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‘Festivals are better value’: Bassline to close

The Bassline in Johannesburg, arguably South Africa’s most famous medium-sized venue, is to close its doors this month to focus on its festival business.

The 1,000-cap. venue, located in the Newtown neighbourhood, was founded in 1994 by Brad Holmes and has since hosted more than 3,000 shows by some of the biggest names in African and world music.

Holmes tells South Africa’s Eyewitness News: “The venue business itself has become increasingly more difficult, and, generally speaking […] the customer is getting a lot more value out of a festival where he is paying R300 or R400 [US$20–30] and seeing ten acts in a day, whereas when you come into a venue you are seeing one or two acts.

“The venue business has become increasingly difficult, and the customer is getting a lot more value out of a festival”

“It’s also got a lot to do with the economy itself. Everybody is streamlining their business because it makes sense and the world is changing. If you want to survive in the music industry you have got try and be ahead of the curve.”

In addition to focusing on its festival portfolio (which includes Fête de la Musique, Maftown Heights and various Africa Day events), Holmes says Bassline will also expand into artist management and technical production.

PwC estimates the South African live music industry will grow at 7.9% over the next five years.


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