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Main Stage will be led by Music Editor Roisin O’Connor alongside the Music Venue Trust 
12 venues around the UK to be recognised over the next year
Each venue to receive editorial coverage and a free ad campaign on The Independent



The Independent is launching a brand new initiative, Main Stage, which aims to raise the profile and appreciation of grassroots music venues around the UK. It is the latest in a series of activities designed to utilise The Independent’s huge platform to support and celebrate talent, spaces and events throughout the arts ecosystem.

Running in association with the Music Venue Trust (MVT), the charity organisation founded in 2014 to help protect independent music venues, the scheme comes after warnings that the sector is in the middle of a “full-blown crisis”.

During the year-long programme, The Independent will highlight one grassroots venue from each of the 12 UK regions per month. The UK’s 12 regions are:

Northern Ireland
Scotland
North East
North West
Yorkshire and the Humber
East Midlands
West Midlands
Wales
East of England
South West
South East
London

And the first of the Main Stage venues has been unveiled today: the programme is kicking off with The Music Workshop, a recently opened independent venue in Folkestone, Kent.

Each month, The Independent’s Music Editor Roisin O’Connor will be speaking to the people behind the chosen establishment, telling its story, highlighting its struggles and successes, and showing why music spaces are so crucial not just culturally and economically, but to communities up and down the UK.

Every Main Stage venue will also be featured in The Independent’s weekly Now Hear This newsletter and social media, and be given £5,000 worth of ad inventory within The Independent.

Grassroots music venues (GMVs) frequently serve as a launch pad for up-and-coming talent, with virtually all of the UK’s biggest acts starting out on some of its smallest stages. Artists including Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Wolf Alice, Lewis Capaldi, Arlo Parks and Coldplay all started out performing in grassroots venues.

Despite this, a damning report by the MVT published in January showed that an average of two grassroots music venues closed permanently every week in 2023, marking what industry figures branded the “most challenging” year in a decade. The report also found that, despite contributing over £500m to the economy and employing close to 30,000 people, the grassroots scene remained “significantly underfunded compared to other areas of culture”.

Roisin O’Connor, Music Editor at The Independent, says: “I'm so excited to announce the launch of Main Stage, The Independent's new initiative that aims to create additional, vital support for the UK's grassroots music venues. Having reported extensively on the dire situation faced by so many brilliant local venues around Britain, I'm thrilled that we're now able to offer our own platform especially for those venues to promote the amazing work they're doing.

“Grassroots music venues provide an essential breeding ground for virtually every single one of our up-and-coming bands and solo artists, allowing them to hone their talents and grow their fanbases in order to move up towards those bigger stages and headline festival slots. As well as simply highlighting the brilliant work of the people behind these venues, which are so important to their local communities, I hope this initiative might also inspire others to take action – in order to safeguard the future of live music in the UK.”

Adds Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust: “It's really exciting to see a project which focuses on the impact GMVs have in their local communities and which can throw a spotlight on the incredible work being done in the grassroots sector. There's obviously a lot of negativity around the challenges these venues face, but we need to remember that every day in the UK incredible music is being created and enjoyed in hundreds of spaces across the country.”

Beth Gordon, Business Marketing and Communications Director at The Independent comments: “Grassroots music sites are the foundation for so many headliners’ careers and play an invaluable role in breathing life and soul into communities. And now it's the venues’ turn to take the main stage. The Independent has established itself as the news brand for music lovers and the threat of closure of so many venues is an issue that we are absolutely committed to addressing. In the UK alone, The Independent has more than 10 million readers who describe themselves as passionate about music or the arts, so we’re proud to be working with the brilliant MVT team to tell the fascinating stories of these essential venues to an audience which cares deeply about their survival.”

To read about The Music Workshop, visit www.independent.co.uk.

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28 May 2024

  • What Suno's $125m round means for AI & music (see Comment)

  • What the General Election could mean for the music business, ticketing, AI and big tech (see Analysis)

24 May 2024

  • The Ivors: Winners announced (see News)

  • Is the music business too afraid of big, bad AI? (see Opinion)

  • A changing music industry expands to $100 billion in revenues. For whom? (see Analysis)

23 May 2024

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  • Apple’s 100 Best Albums list is ridiculous and exists almost expressly to make you mad (see News)

22 May 2024

  • Apple is not the only one crushing the old music-making paradigm (see Comment)

21 May 2024

  • Government says it will bring forward AI training rules (see News)

20 May 2024

  • Music rightsholders reach their ‘or what?’ moment with AI (see Comment)

17 May 2024

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  • How the music industry is in a new age of arrogance (see Opinion)

16 May 2024

  • Rajars Q1 - commercial radio on the rise (see Media)

15 May 2024

  • Musicians share stories about struggling to make ends (see Features)

14 May 2024

  • Proper enters new era (see Business)

  • A perspective on the health of the UK's live industry (see Features)