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Bristol Ticket Shop closing after 30 years

Independent UK-based ticketing company Bristol Ticket Shop has announced it is closing down, citing overdue payments from a debtor.

Launched in 1987 as a concession in Virgin shops and then in record retailer Our Price, Bristol Ticket Shop later found its own home in the centre of the UK city of Bristol. With a focus on supporting the local music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop also sold tickets to events such as Glastonbury Festival and Download Festival.

“After more than 30 years being part of Bristol’s incredible music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop is sadly closing,” reads a post on the ticketer’s Facebook page.

“All the staff here are devastated. The list of incredible events we have supplied tickets for is overwhelming. There are so many regular customers, old and new, that we have really enjoyed talking to over the years and we will miss you all dearly.”

“After more than 30 years being part of Bristol’s incredible music scene, Bristol Ticket Shop is sadly closing”

The management team owes the closure to “news that a debtor owing a large amount of money was unlikely to be able pay in a timely manner”, as well as to the illness of the company’s owner, which has “had a large impact on the resilience of the business”.

The company states it is instructing a third party to negotiate with promoters in order to ensure that “there is as little impact to the customer as possible”. Although the ticketer aims “to honour tickets for future events”, it notes this may not always be possible, in which case refunds will be issued.

Bristol music fans have responded to the “sad news”, showing support for the ticketer, which formed a “huge part” of the local live scene.

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2019, the primary ticketing business in the UK is “incredibly competitive”, with major international companies including Ticketmaster, See Tickets, AXS, Eventim and Eventim taking a large share of the market.

Many local independent outfits, such as Manchester’s Ticketline, Birmingham’s the Ticket Factory, Leeds’ Ticket Arena and Nottingham’s Gigantic – now majority owned by DEAG – also perform well.


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Rainbow club closes after drug deaths

Owners of Birmingham’s Rainbow Club complex say they will appeal after being stripped of their licence “to protect public safety”, following the recent drugs-related death of a 19-year-old.

Student Michael Trueman died after a Halloween event at the venue. He is believed to have taken MDMA. In 2015 Dylan Booth died after taking ecstasy at a New Year Eve event.

At a hearing of the city council’s licensing committee, West Midlands Police spokesperson Abdul Rohomon told the city council: “There are around 3,000 licensed premises in Birmingham and this is the only venue which has suffered drug-related deaths. The most stringent measures are in place, yet drugs are still being consumed inside the venue.”

There is a global society issue, this won’t be the last drug-related death on licensed premises

Revoking the licence, Cllr Alex Buchanan, chairman of the city’s licensing committee, said: “We have a duty to protect public safety. There has been two deaths in less than two years. The most stringent measures in the city have been introduced at the club but only last month there was another death through drugs. The committee has no option but to revoke Rainbow club’s license.”

In a statement issued after the shutdown was rubber-stamped, The Rainbow Venues said: “We firmly believe our team took great care, time and passion to create a safe environment for people to enjoy our events.

“We had very robust policies that West Midlands Police have accepted are more stringent than any other licensed premises in the country.

“As operators, we can’t be false. The decision is wrong.

“We can’t pretend we agree, we can’t promise that drugs will not enter licensed premises; people go to extreme lengths to get drugs into venues, if they succeed over the border, prisons and even parliament, then they will find a way into a club.

“They are breaking the law. Are we?

“There is a global society issue, this won’t be the last drug-related death on licensed premises. We can’t lie. We didn’t lie. This will happen again and again.”

Forthcoming shows at the Rainbow include Bicep and Applebum. There’s been no news on what will happen to these dates.


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London’s Brooklyn Bowl closes

The O2’s 800 capacity Brooklyn Bowl music venue has closed after three years in operation.

IQ understands that the venue won’t be reopening, and has closed to facilitate building work at The O2 Entertainment District for the arena’s future designer outlet village.

A statement from The O2 explains:

“Event organisers have been contacted to relocate or cancel scheduled shows and events while the company consults with its employees and other stakeholders.”

Brooklyn Bowl London opened on January 16th 2014 and sits inside The O2 Arena’s complex.

Upcoming shows included Breakwater and The Pockets, The Doors 50th Anniversary Tribute, The Felice Brothers, which will now take place at The Garage on January 28th, and Bob Marley’s 72nd Birthday Bash.

It mirrored the venue of the same name in New York, offering live music alongside bowling and a restaurant and bar.

Acts to have performed include Lady Antebellum, Conor Maynard, Fun Lovin’ Criminals, We Are Scientists, The Wailers and Dinosaur Jr.

The Brooklyn Bowl brand was founded by Peter Shapiro and its launch in London was initiated by Jay Marciano, Chairman of AEG Live.

Brooklyn Bowl London spanned 30,000 square feet and sat in the space previously occupied by the Exhibit Hall.


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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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Keeping the lights on

But, as Eamonn Forde learns,  like-minded venue owners around the world are staging a battle to preserve music’s grassroots proving grounds

The Beatles at The Cavern and The Star Club; The Rolling Stones at The Crawdaddy Club; pretty much every British punk band at the 100 Club, The Nashville Rooms, the Vortex and The Hope & Anchor; every UK indie or alternative rock band of the past 25 years at The Water Rats, The Dublin Castle, King Tut’s and The Leadmill.

Tuning up
Without these small venues (and thousands like them all around the world), music today might be very different, and might also be nowhere near as diverse and exciting as it is. These are the tiny spaces where acts cut their teeth, learn their craft and build their following. They are, to paraphrase Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, where bands and artists put their 10,000 hours in. But these venues are seriously under threat, for a multitude of reasons – relating to rising overheads; unsympathetic local councils; gentrification; opportunistic and avaricious landlords; noise complaints; and demographic changes.

There is, however, a vociferous backlash against these oft-iconic spaces closing and becoming little more than a fading memory.


Read the rest of this feature in issue 67 of IQ Magazine.

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MVT announces Fightback fundraiser

Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced a one-off concert to raise money for a new emergency fund for small venues facing closure.

Taking place at the Roundhouse in London on Tuesday 18 October, Fightback has, says MVT’s Mark Davyd, “no artists booked and no infrastructure confirmed, because this is urgent. What’s happening to our music venues is an emergency which should concern every music fan, every musician and everybody working in the music industry in the UK.

“As of 9am this morning we genuinely don’t know who is playing. It might be me with a ukulele and a bass drum tied to my back, or it might be the biggest artist in the world. We’re asking music fans from across London to please join us for just one night to say loudly and clearly that we’ve all had enough of music venue closures and we aren’t going to put up with it any more.”

Davyd tells IQ the decision to launch the initiative so soon after the closure of Fabric is “timely, as there’s a lot of attention” on the club, but that a “lack of the best legal advice and expert opinion” is an ongoing issue that’s the “key factor closing music venues across the UK”.

“A lack of the best legal advice and expert opinion accounts for more than 50% of all the issues that come across our desk”

“To be exact, it accounts for more than 50% of all the issues that come across our desk,” he explains. “The venues don’t have the money or the information to get good advice, so they either do nothing – which is terrible – or they do the wrong thing – which is even worse – and then we find out about it and, by then, it’s already a massive problem.

“We changed the National Planning Framework to protect music venues in January 2015. The number of times this has been referenced by local lawyers or anybody else objecting to a planning application is almost exactly zero. So we need to put in place a national team who know this issue inside out and make it available to everyone.”

Tickets for Fightback will be available from Monday from the Roundhouse website, with early-bird tickets priced at £10. The price will increase as artists are confirmed.


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Techno hedonism is high culture, says Berlin court

As London mourns the death of Fabric and Chicago’s small venues fail to convince local authorities live music is fine art, some good news from Germany: A Brandenburg court has ruled that Berghain, the 1,600-capacity Berlin nightclub widely regarded as the world capital of techno, is a place of cultural significance and thus entitled to a tax break.

In the past Berghain (pictured) would pay tax of 7% on its earnings – the same rate as museums, theatre and concert venues. However, in 2009 German tax authorities decreed clubs should be taxed at 19% as regular ‘entertainment events’, reports Der Spiegel, arguing Berghain is a place where people dance, drink and take drugs – “ruled by entertainment, not by culture” – and could not be classed as a concert venue as it has no stage.

Taking their case to the financial court of Berlin-Brandenburg, club management hit back that the same logic could be applied to a classical concerto. Berghain’s line of argument evidently held water in the eyes of the court, which agreed the club hosts cultural events and should be taxed as such.


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Fabric and the battle for London’s future

Another venue in London has closed, falling foul of an ever growing list of challenges.

Archaic licensing laws and unattainable licensing conditions, a rising population and a growth in demand for property, meaning higher rents and huge development potential on land holdings, rising business rates, lack of subsidies and little protection from planning laws, are all challenges for venues from pubs to clubs.

The decision on 6 September on the future of Fabric isn’t just about one venue – this is about the future of London. This is about protecting an institution. This is about London remaining one of the greatest cities in the world. This is about nurturing London as a hive of art, music and culture. When one venue closes, it isn’t a simple case of swapping a new one in. In five years’ time, the night tube will transport nothing but the ghosts of London’s clubbing past if we don’t act now to protect our livelihoods.

Venues tread a very careful line. Of course a venue must be profitable to stay open, but do we do this because we love long hours, finger-pointing and accusation? No – we do it because we are in love with it. We facilitate people having fun.

We strive to be the best we can be, but we can only ever be as good as our last bad night. When we run an event without incident, those nights aren’t remembered because they don’t get recorded as statistics or crime figures. There is sometimes a too much of a focus on the negatives, but really we should be looking at all the positives – the provision of safe places with security, medics on standby, regulated drink sales and curfews.

Take away London’s soul, its beating heart, and we’ll be left with nothing but a sad NIMBY dystopia that I want no part of”

We deal with the public, with the chaos that is the human condition, with all its idiocy and foolish decision making. We can put into place as many operational processes as we like, at whatever cost, but no venue that exists in the past, present or future is ever going to be able to prevent people doing silly things. If people want to get illegal substances into a venue, they will. Closing down every late venue in the country won’t stop people taking drugs – it’s an ingrained part of modern culture. Perhaps the focus should be on balanced education rather than trying to make it disappear?

We have a good relationship with our local authority and the police, working closely with them and benefitting from their experience, knowledge and advice. The only way we move past this impasse is by working together. Ongoing discussion, debate, instruction and the sharing of ideas should be the focus, rather than the overhanging threat of licence reviews.

Don’t we all want a diverse, interesting and fulfilling life, full of music, dancing and laughter? I love this city, and I never want to fall out of love with it. Take away its soul, its beating heart, and we’ll be left with nothing but a sad NIMBY dystopia that I want no part of.

London has lost yet another cog in its night-time economy – one less place for locals, students and tourists to let off steam, meet friends, have new experiences, make mistakes, learn, find a partner, discover new music, put the world to rights, create new memories and simply live life.


Tom Sutton-Roberts is general manager of the Troxy, a 3,100-capacity music and events venue and art-deco former cinema in Stepney, east London.

Fabric closed: “A dangerous, disastrous decision”

Fabric, arguably Britain’s best-known nightclub, is to close after having its licence revoked by Islington Borough Council.

The north London council’s decision, passed after a six-hour debate by ‘Licensing Sub-Committee A’ last night, found a “culture of drug use” exists at the 2,500-capacity superclub which “security appears incapable of controlling”.

The latest licensing review was triggered by the deaths of two 18-year-old clubgoers, on 25 June and 6 August, who had taken MDMA they purchased inside the club. The council says people entering Fabric were “inadequately searched” and that security was “grossly inadequate in light of the overwhelming evidence […] that patrons in the club were on drugs and manifesting symptoms showing that they were”, including “sweating, glazed red eyes and staring into space and people asking for help”.

It adds that undercover police officers witnessed, during an undercover visit to the club on 2 July, “open drug use at the premises, with drugs being offered for sale”.

Fabric’s last licence review, in December 2014, saw the club keep its licence but compelled it to pay for drug-detecting sniffer dogs and implement more stringent searches and ID checks.

“Closing Fabric … sets a troubling precedent for the future of London’s night-time economy”

In a statement, the club says it is “extremely disappointed with Islington Council’s decision to revoke our license”.

“This is an especially sad day for those who have supported us, particularly the 250 staff who will now lose their jobs,” it adds. “Closing Fabric is not the answer to the drug-related problems clubs like ours are working to prevent, and sets a troubling precedent for the future of London’s night-time economy.”

Speaking to IQ, Columbo Group director Steve Ball – who earlier this week warned London’s nightlife is under threat from “NIMBYish” local authorities who “don’t want [music] venues” – calls the ruling “incredibly sad for all involved”, while the Evening Standard reports Alan Miller of the Night Time Industries Association, addressing a crowd of around 60 supporters at Islington Town Hall, said: “This is not the end of the story. This is just the beginning. We are going to call on people to contribute funds in a grassroots national movement to lobby their MP and councillors to say enough is enough.

“If it wasn’t for places like Fabric we would have none of our cultural assets – where we get inspired, where we fall in love. We are going to challenge this. It is unacceptable. We are going to put a crowdfunder statement out and we are going self-finance and support a fund to fight for Fabric and everyone in the industry because when they come for you they come for all of us.”

“It hangs a great big closed sign to the world and makes London look horribly insular today. A dangerous, disastrous decision for London nightlife”

Alex Proud, owner of rival club Proud Camden (1,000-cap.), tells the Standard: “This is a disaster for London’s clubbing scene and our nightlife. It hangs a great big closed sign to the world and makes London look horribly insular today. Fabric was a gold standard in how well-run it was.

“It’s a dangerous, disastrous decision for London nightlife.”

DJ Mag, meanwhile, comments that Islington “grossly misrepresented” Fabric in the licensing review. “Highest security bill in the UK,” it tweeted. Two Glastonbury Festival’s [sic] worth attend Fabric each year.”

In a statement issued this morning, mayor Sadiq Khan, who has been vocal in his support for the club, said: “I’m disappointed that Fabric, Islington Council and the Metropolitan Police were unable to reach agreement on how to address concerns about public safety. […] Over the past eight years, London has lost 50% of its nightclubs and 40% of its live music venues. This decline must stop if London is to retain its status as a 24-hour city with a world-class nightlife.”

Reactions are also pouring in from musicians, DJs, industry figures and companies close to Fabric, among them Four Tet, Chase & Status, Heidi Van Den Amstel and Ticketmaster’s TicketWeb, of which Fabric was a client.


This article will be updated with more reactions from industry figures as we receive them.


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