Show your support for Independent Venue Week in Bedford and Milton Keynes

The music industry has changed immeasurably over the past two decades - the way new music is found, how it is marketed, and how it is consumed has all been overhauled.

But no matter whether you download your preferred choice or still subscribe to vinyl, it's live music that is the beating heart of the industry.

These days, more bands make money from merchandise sales at shows than they do from having their songs in the chart, or retailers' racks.

It's small, independent venues that give bands the chance to find their confidence and nurture their abilities.
And yet it's the same venues that are struggling to survive.

Nowadays, A&R types are likely to keep their eyes trained to YouTube, using download statistics for inspiration as they hunt for the stars of tomorrow.

But that way of sourcing new material isn't exciting, or inspiring.

Gigs are the lifeblood of the industry, and yet venues are shutting up shop at an alarming rate.

In Milton Keynes, the amount of bonafide live venues can be counted on one hand. 

Independent Venue Week is a seven-day celebration shining a light on small venues across the UK, and those that work in, and frequent them.

It brings together music hubs with new and established artists, promoters, labels and media for a nationwide series of gigs, starting today (Monday, Jan 29) through to February 4.

Kev Bailey (pictured right, with fellow promoter Gareth Barber) has been promoting in Bedford and Milton Keynes since 1990. He started well too - the first band he booked was Ocean Colour Scene.

The Pad promoter has seen plenty of change over the years: "There is less budget these days, and less bands about as record companies don't want to take gambles.

"Artists are expected to get from A to B a lot quicker nowadays."

Bands used to hit the road for extensive road trawls, but today that's the exception, not the norm.

Kev said: "Some will only play eight shows at major cities, and it can be quite hard to convince agents to get bands to play at your venue, even though they would get a better reception in Milton Keynes or Bedford than they would in Birmingham, when there is a choice of eight shows a night."

And with a lack of shows, bands can't hone their style well enough: "A classic example was when Florence and the Machine headlined at Glastonbury. They hadn't done enough shows, didn't have enough experience, and it showed...

"For us, Independent Venue Week is a bit of a reminder for people that we're here, and it gives us a bit of national coverage.

"The excitement of a live show is still there. If someone buys a ticket and commits to a show, the value for money you get is incredible."


IVW gigs at Bedford Esquires:

Tuesday 30th Jan - John Bramwell (I AM KLOOT)

Friday 2nd Feb - INHEAVEN + Thyla + Sarpa Salpa

Sunday 4th Feb - DEAD! + Kenneths + Basement Strippers

Sunday 4th Feb (upstairs) The Sound of Black Uhuru (1977 - 1985) FT Mykal Rose


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