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The Libertines, Frank Turner, Andy Burnham Mayor of Greater Manchester, and Steve Lamacq add support to the initiative.

16% (125) of UK Grassroots Music Venues were lost in the last 12 months with 38% of all UK grassroots music venues (GMVs) posting a financial loss

The Libertines announced as Music Venue Trust Patrons


Leading Taxi app, FREENOW, has today announced a third year of financial support for Music Venue Trust (MVT). The partnership follows on from previous initiatives, including underwriting 160 shows around the country (2022), donating £1 a ride (2023) and providing transport for Frank Turner during his successful MVT World Record attempt (May 2024).

From today, the Round Up and Donate function on the FREENOW app will revert to Music Venue Trust, and donations will be collected for every trip completed if the rider is opted in. Funds collected go directly to MVT, which supports grassroots music venues nationally and, in doing so, the wider night time economy.

This latest initiative comes as the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee, issued its report which highlights how grassroots music venues (GMVs) which are integral to the pipeline of professional, creative and technical music talent. are stopping performances of live music or closing entirely at a rate more than one per week.

The report also highlights how artists are facing a cost of touring crisis and are struggling to get venues for their shows.

MVT has described 2023 as the most challenging year for the sector since the Trust was founded in 2014. In total 16% of GMVs closed or ceased programming live music in 2023, representing a loss of as many as 30,000 shows and 4,000 jobs.

The new donation mechanic has been welcomed across the industry with the likes of Ticketmaster and Live Nation pledging support across their properties and The Libertines, Andy Burnham and Steve Lamacq all rallying behind the cause.

Today The Libertines also join MVT officially as Patrons alongside the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Grennan, Nova Twins and Elbow.

Fresh off the back of their No1 album and in support of the campaign The Libertines said: "The UK grassroots music circuit is more than just small local venues. It is absolutely crucial to emerging talent. It is the vanguard of independent expression and free speech outside the corporate and commerce-based music industry. It is a labour of love for those who run the venues and it is a rite of passage for new acts cutting their teeth. Without this community we would never have gotten our music into the wider world at large. We have played hundreds of these gigs over the last 2 decades, each one unique and intimate in a way that only these smaller venues can provide. We also run a couple of our own. We hope this new partnership with FREENOW and MVT raises loads of cash to keep them going and we’re honoured to be joining MVT as patrons to help recognise and protect the grassroots circuit. Long live the MVT, long live grassroots venues and long live new music."

Frank Turner said: “Hats off to FREENOW for their continued support for the Music Venue Trust. They backed my world record of shows in independent venues, and have helped in countless other ways. It’s so encouraging to see a company like them getting involved to help the vital grassroots ecosystem. I hope FREENOW raise loads more money for MVT with their new round up to donate feature.”

Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester said of the campaign “Music Venue Trust has been instrumental in supporting UK grassroots venues. I've seen many of my favourite bands in some of these spaces, and they play a key role in the nighttime economy and music scene of Greater Manchester and the wider UK. I fully support the recommendations published by the Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee including the introduction of a levy and a targeted VAT cut to halt the rising tide of closures. However, it’s clear that urgent action is needed to support venues and the talented artists playing them. I'm delighted to see MVT joining efforts with FREENOW to continue raising awareness for this matter and collect vital funds to keep grassroots venues open and support all those who depend on them.”

Steve Lamacq, radio presenter and Music Venue Trust Patron added “It's terrific to see a company like FREENOW investing so heavily into grassroots music venues for a third time. Their continued support makes a real difference.”

Mark Davyd, Founder and CEO of Music Venue Trust, who is calling on music lovers to support the initiative, added: "FREENOW have already proved themselves to be great supporters of grassroots music venues and the broader live music ecosystem with their groundbreaking Ride for Music project. This new initiative takes our partnership to the next level, offering a chance for everyone to contribute to the music ecosystem "

Mariusz Zabrocki, General Manager at FREENOW UK, said: "The UK's vibrant and innovative music scene is crucial to the nighttime economy. Over the last few years, the industry has struggled, and many grassroots venues in London and beyond have closed, impacting those directly and indirectly related to them, such as our users and taxi drivers. As such, supporting MVT for a third consecutive year was a no-brainer, and we are delighted to direct our Round Up and Donate funds in the UK to MVT to ensure grassroots venues stay open and that our night-time economy in the capital and beyond can thrive."
London Black cab driver, J. Hamilton said: "As a taxi driver working the London night shift for over a decade, I've witnessed firsthand the decline of our city's vibrant night life. In the past five years, I've seen fewer people out in central London, and an increase in bars, clubs and venues shutting down. This has not only affected us as drivers but also the many businesses that depend on people being out and about in the city. It is positive to see FREENOW putting this feature in place to help these venues remain open and I hope to see London’s streets bustling again soon.”
This music industry-wide backing comes off the back of FREENOW’s previous initiatives with Music Venue Trust that garnered public support from artists including Ed Sheeran, Tom Grennan, Nova Twins, Public Service Broadcasting, Benjamin Clementine and Bernard Butler.

Music Venue Trust will use funds raised through the FREENOW Round Up and Donate feature to operate the Emergency Response Service (ERS), which has saved hundreds of venues from closure since it was established in 2017. The primary threats that ERS addresses are:

1. Threats to venues from redevelopment

2. Threats to venues from noise complaints/licence issues

3. Threats to venues from rising energy costs

4. Threats to venues from disputes with Landlords

In 2023 the ERS offered specialist advice in 164 cases, the largest number it has ever dealt with in one year.

Venues are also supported by the venue support team and receive specialist one-on-one advice tailored to their specific needs. This support is broad and includes advice on business models, operational viability, legal support, licensing, planning, acoustics, and health and safety.

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