Why is recorded music collection society PPL supporting Independent Venue Week?

Why is recorded music collection society PPL supporting Independent Venue Week?

PPL is supporting the 2022 edition of Independent Venue Week, the annual seven-day celebration of independent music venues around the UK. 

Taking place from January 31 to February 6, it is the ninth year of the initiative and the sixth year in a row PPL has supported it as an industry partner.

“The continued support from PPL is a real boost to the work we do and we’re grateful to them for recognising the importance of this community to the wider music industry,” said Independent Venue Week founder Sybil Bell.

PPL collections come from recorded music being broadcast or played public, not from live performances, which are licensed by PRS For Music. So why is the collective management organisation supporting an initiative for grassroots venues?

Here, PPL CEO Peter Leathem explains that it’s all about the overall music ecosystem…

In 10 days the first in-person edition of Independent Venue Week since 2019 begins. In 201 venues across 80 different villages, towns and cities, the UK’s music community will come together to celebrate the spaces that make up much of its music culture and industry. I am proud to say that PPL is supporting this year’s celebration, as we have done since 2017.

PPL licenses the use of recorded music on behalf of over 130,000 performers and recording rights-holders. So why are we supporting live music venues? The answer is simple. The recording artists and rights-holders we represent would have struggled to build their careers and businesses without them. We see it as our responsibility to support the venues that are crucial to the creation of the repertoire we represent - UK repertoire that is listened to all around the world. 

Many of our members will have learnt their trade in these venues - developing their music, growing their audiences and building successful careers step-by-step through live performance. Such artists go on to be signed by labels who release their music for consumption at home and around the world, developing artist careers yet further. Wet Leg, this year’s Independent Venue Week Ambassadors, put it succinctly: “No Independent venues = No music scene.” 

Many of our members will have learnt their trade in these venues

Peter Leathem

At PPL we regularly see the role independent venues play in their community. For example, at last year’s Independent Venue Week we hosted a conversation between Leeds venue the Brudenell Social Club, PRS Foundation and artist Harkin, who discussed the newly launched PPL Momentum Yorkshire Accelerator Fund. The fund has a Yorkshire focus because it aims to maintain the region’s reputation as an incubator of emerging artists, which is made possible thanks to venues like the Brudenell Social Club creating the spaces for them to perform and develop.   

The pandemic has made Independent Venue Week’s celebration of these spaces increasingly important. When venues had to shut their doors because of the pandemic, the livelihoods and careers of many were put on hold or jeopardised as income from live performances fell away. 

Importantly, this was not just the artists playing live or the venues that hosted them but the whole ecosystem. Artist managers, live crew, photographers, kit, merch, ticketing and tour transport companies saw their businesses impacted. This was reflected in the hardship funds that were set up to support them. PPL, along with other companies and organisations, contributed to funds set up by AIM, the BPI, Help Musicians, the MMF, the Musicians’ Union and Stagehand to support this ecosystem. In total PPL has contributed £1.4 million to musicians, managers, live crew and others that needed it.

Two years into the pandemic and venues are still facing difficult circumstances as Covid-19 continues to impact artists and tours. There is still a way to go before we can say that the UK’s £4.5 billion live music industry has recovered. But independent venues continue to show resilience, supporting their communities by adapting traditional gig spaces into Covid-safe environments so that artists and audiences can still come together, in real life or virtually. Some venues have even become temporary vaccine centres, showing their importance to local communities.

This year’s Independent Venue Week will shine a spotlight on these spaces and the local communities they serve. They are a crucial part of what makes UK music culture respected around the world and so it is a pleasure for PPL to continue supporting them and the grassroots music ecosystems they represent.

Independent Venue Week will take place across the UK from Monday, January 31 to Sunday, February 6, 2022.

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