'Seed' music scene could boost sector by £2.4bn

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

(Credit: Getty/ staticnak1983)
(Credit: Getty/ staticnak1983)

Related tags Events Night Time Industries Association

A report published today (29 November) reveals the ‘seed’ music scene, gigging in the hospitality sector, could be the catalyst for a multi-billion-pound boost to venues and artists.

The UK’s first Live Music Index is based on a nationwide survey of more than 1,000 artists and more than 500 venues.

It found that if all venues with the potential to show live music did so, it could be worth up to £2.4bn in revenue in the hospitality sector.

By creating a stage for musicians to perform, an individual managed pub or bar could see their sales soar by an average of £107k a year.

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser,​ GigPig UK chief executive officer Michael Forster said: “The UK is known for its music and its hospitality. If you’ve got live music then historically it provides more footfall, it provides more spend per head, people stay in your venue for longer.

“If you can provide really high-quality live music and not just have the same artists playing week after week, then you become known for that as well as your existing offering.”

To attract talented musicians, Forster advised pubs to invest in their music offering.​ The more you pay artists, the higher quality the musicians you attract will be, he said.  

The Live Music Index conducted by CGA by Nielsen IQ and commissioned by live music marketplace GigPig, in conjunction with the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment (LIVE), Pirate.com and Play Music Today (PMT), has been published to reveal the size and impact of this previously-unreported section of the UK’s music industry. 

GigPig is a platform where venues can find musicians to play at their sites. It operates in 22 UK cities and pubs can pick from a pool of around 6,000 artists.

The data revealed live music is becoming a lifeline for pubs and bars to stay afloat. Nearly three quarters (73%) of the venues surveyed host live music at least once a week, helping boost sales by 33%, footfall by 36% and average spend per visit by 64%. The report outlines how bars would likely benefit from the biggest revenue uplift, with an annual expected rise of £240k.  

NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said: “This report shows live or recorded music or entertainment is a really important addition to [pubs and bars’] product base, and what we find is this creates an ambiance and an atmosphere as well as supports up and coming creatives. The important thing is this opportunity for musicians to come in and refine their craft."

Layered entertainment offering

He added: “We’re losing businesses up and down the country, but what we can do is, for the businesses we have, expand their portfolio, and show they can do more. Part of that is for them to consider entertainment or that other layer of experience.”

Kill also advised venues to do their research before launching a music offering. He said: “Do your cost benefit analysis, start small and grow.

“Entertainment is a really important part of shaping communities and physical, social and mental wellbeing.

“Don’t walk in blind and just put something on, make sure you do your research, find the best opportunities out there, and you give yourself some time to promote it to get the best out of it.”

According to the report, the ‘seed’ music scene is braced for dramatic growth, with nearly nine out of ten venues (87%) planning to increase their live music offering over the next 12 months.

This is primarily to improve the atmosphere and customer satisfaction (87%), increase revenue and footfall (79%) and support local artists (48%).

Speaking to The Morning Advertiser,​ Elliot Williams, who is a DJ and member of rock band Editors, said hospitality’s live music scene had grown a lot since he first started out in the sector. It’s not uncommon to find DJs putting on sets at bars now days, for instance.

Williams, who runs a Japanese ramen restaurant himself, thinks this is because guests want an overall experience on a night out, rather than popping somewhere for dinner, followed by drinks then music. “You want to go on a night out and have good drinks, good food, good music,” he said.

The Manchester local’s early days of gigging in his teens were a “minefield,” as you often wouldn’t get paid. “For a lot of my peers you did it because you loved it and a lot of people took advantage of that,” he said. But he thinks the industry has changed for the better.

In the hospitality sector he said there’s now lots of transparency, and if you’re booked for a gig you are often given a fee up front, and you can invoice for it. “I don’t think I was invoicing until my 30s,” he added.

Of the 43,000 plus musicians in the UK, more than half (56%) regularly gig at pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs.

Bringing in cash

On average those gigging in the ‘seed’ music sector earn £25,000 per year, rising to over £30,000 for artists using the GigPig platform. Surprisingly, the highest 9% of artists using GigPig earn as much as £60,000 annually. 

The ‘seed’ music scene is also playing an important role in helping UK musicians access supplementary work, with nearly two thirds (59%) gigging to top up their income.

In fact, only 6% of artists surveyed gigged full time, 20% part time and the vast majority (75%) on a casual basis. More than two thirds (65%) of artists said they want to gig full-time.

Co-founder of Manchester venue One Eight Six, Dean Cammack, is also a gigging artist and purposefully put live music at the centre of his venue. He said: ”Live music is a massive driver for the success of hospitality venues. It is core to delivering an atmospheric moment and we know it makes us stand out in an increasingly competitive market.”

Forster advised venues to invest in their PA system, cabling, decks and mics. He said: “Treat them as if they’re your car. If you don’t look after your car it isn’t going to work.”

Cammack added: “We have invested heavily in the sound system, staging, lighting and equipment to offer a high quality product for our customers; and then our weekly artist bill is around £15k because without live music we wouldn’t be able to operate. Our product is based around live music and we will always look to offer more quality music experiences which will attract and entertain our customers.”  

The ‘seed’ music scene is also helping over 20,000 artists who regularly gig in the nation’s pubs and bars earn up to 50%* more than the typical musician, with annual average earnings of £25,000. If all UK artists were to gig in the ‘seed’ music sector, the earning potential could be as much as £1.3bn - an estimated £400m in extra earnings for UK musicians.  

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