Small venues “critical” for Cardiff indie bands

As Independent Venue Week comes to an end, there have been calls on the Welsh government to support smaller , independent venues.

Sam Budd, owner of Le Pub, Newport and previously Welsh coordinator of Music Venue Trust says small stages are the “research and development arm of the music industry”. Protecting grassroots venues protects the “whole ecosystem of music” .

She’s concerned that without independent venues, there won’t be any new artists coming through.

Figures from the Music Venue Trust’s 2022 annual report, show that live music still has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. The number of live shows in independent music venues has declined by 17% .

The report suggests that the cost of living is the reason for this decline with average ticket prices increasing. According to the report, this has led audience numbers to fall by 11%.

Inflation is the reason for fewer live shows and falling audience numbers said Sam Budd. “Bands can’t really afford to tour without putting ticket prices up but then audiences don’t have the money to support them.”

“It’s who swallows the cost” she says.

The report revealed the grassroots scene contributed £500m to the UK economy, but venues had an average profit margin of just 0.2%.

Grassroots venues are the stepping stone for bands like Inland Murmurs. Quillan Thomas, the drummer, said bands have to start “at the ground level.”

Inland Murmurs, Cardiff based Indie band (from left to right): Quillan Thomas, Harry Frost, Hannah Collis, Toby Pitts

But despite plans to build new mega arenas like the Atlantic Wharf in Cardiff Bay, the worry is that this will not support the local music scene.

Hannah Collis, lead singer of Inland Murmurs says “bigger venues are too much for us so small independent ones are absolutely critical.”

“There wouldn’t be a way of us doing what we do without them” she explained.

The Welsh Government has been approached for comment.