Music Venues Are Closing at an Alarming Speed. Can a New Law Save Them?

Via Ken Ishii/Getty Images

For music communities to flourish, cities require clubs, bars and mid-size venues—you know, places where performances can actually happen. Paul McCartney knows this to be true, so the Beatle is throwing his support behind a new planning bill that will, ideally, curb club closures in the U.K. (caused by new real estate coming in and taking over.) It begs the question: Is changing the law the way to save music spaces?

Introduced by the John Speller, a Labour party member, the Agent of Change bill would require developers to consider existing properties (aka established music venues) when building new businesses—like, developers would be responsible for soundproofing their buildings if they’re situated close to these established gig halls.


“If we don’t support music at this level, then the future of music in general is in danger,” said Paul McCartney in a statement about the proposed bill.

That might sound a little extreme, but there is reasonable concern in London about the sustainability of small-ish, legacy music venues: Some established spots like Free Trade Hall, the Boardwalk, and the Square shuttered in recent years and were early spots for iconic bands like the Clash, Coldplay, and the Sex Pistols.

McCartney isn’t the only musician on board: Chrissie Hynde, founding member of the Pretenders told Sky News, “If small venues shut down, so will England’s unique creative output. It will be like locking up playgrounds at schools. The whole world will suffer, not just England.” Other English acts have joined in: punk hero Billy Bragg, crooner Craig David, the Kinks’ Ray Davies, and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason have all pledged their support of the bill.

It’s encouraging to see artists get the government involved in ways that can help music communities. If it passes, will it inspire other countries to follow suit and save their venues? Here’s hoping!

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