Cost of living: Bristol bands struggle as small venues close

  • By Clara Bullock
  • BBC News, Bristol

image source, pack animals

image caption, Touring has become increasingly difficult, a music charity has said

The band members said they are struggling to keep making music as the cost of living crisis continues.

Getdown Services band member Josh Law, who lives in Bristol, said he was dealing with the situation “by being poor and accepting it”.

Others said they were going into overdrafts and living off canned tuna.

Sarah Woods, CEO of a music charity, said bands face “a myriad of factors” which negatively impact their ability to develop a career in music.

She added that the cost of living crisis is affecting venues and touring, which then has an effect on bands trying to get booked for gigs.

Mr Law, who has been one half of Getdown Services for two and a half years, often finds himself penniless after paying his rent.

“The only way we can afford the band is if we record ourselves and don’t have to rent big vans for the instruments,” he said.

“I never have any money and if it’s a struggle for us, I can’t imagine what it’s like for other bands with higher costs.”

image source, Getdown Services

image caption, Josh Law and Ben Sadler form Bristol duo Getdown Services

The other half of the duo, Ben Sadler, added: “Bands can be quite secretive about money, but I think it’s important to talk about it because it’s not fair that only people in these lucky positions make music”.

He said things got worse after the Covid pandemic.

“After the lockdown, everyone was excited to go out and spend money – that changed,” Mr Sadler said.

“It’s noticeable in Bristol. The bands we play with can’t afford it anymore.”

The UK Musicians Census Report from Help Musicians and The Musicians’ Union surveyed almost 6,000 musicians last September and found that a third reported low mental wellbeing.

According to the survey, the average annual income of UK musicians from music work is £20,700, but almost half earn less than £14,000.

image source, Getdown Services

image caption, The band said that while the music industry has always been tough, things got worse after the pandemic and the cost of living crisis

Ms Woods, chief executive of Help Musicians and its sister charity Music Minds Matter, said: “The cost of living crisis has affected everyone, including the places where musicians traditionally make money and grow their fan bases, such as would be music venues and pubs. , who have to make difficult decisions about the number of events they can afford to put on.”

While touring was once a “vital stream of income” for musicians, it has become increasingly difficult and expensive to navigate, Ms Woods added.

“The price of fuel, accommodation, necessary paperwork and even food have all gone up, putting even more pressure on musicians who can make ends meet even when they’re on the road, never mind making a profit,” she said.

“Do It For The Music”

The band members have now said they are stuck between tours and can no longer work or have to stop making music altogether.

Marcel Wloch, from Bristol band Pack of Animals, said: “It’s hard to think about a stable income. We do it for her sake, not for money.”

Another band member, Henry Walker, added: “We budget, go into our overdrafts and eat tinned tuna.

“There is this struggling artist aesthetic, but the rising cost of living makes it worse.

“People know you want to play and you should feel honored to be able to play.”

There’s still some hope, however, Getdown Services said.

When their equipment was stolen during a tour in Manchester, they thought they should give up because they couldn’t afford to replace it.

But the community came together to raise funds and maintain them.

Mr Sadler said: “It really humbled us and changed our perspective on the band.

“I saw how much it meant to people, some of whom we don’t even know. I’ve never experienced anything like this, it was amazing. Especially since everyone is so weak.”

Related Articles

Back to top button