Live music gigs in shops don’t work – here’s why

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Birdseye view of Probe

Shopping or gigging?

As Selfridges announce live music in their stores, Getintothis’ Sean Parker examines the crossover between gigs and shopping.

‘It’s a really crucial time in the battle to protect, secure and improve Grassroots Music Venues in the UK. We are delighted that Selfridges are recognising this with the Music Matters programme and directly supporting the campaign by donating to Music Venue Trust. Their donation will help us to provide legal, licensing, planning and development support to venues that are facing closure.

WE are starting to emerge from a very dark period for grassroots music venues; 2016 was the first year for a decade that venue closures in London stabilised, but there is still a lot more to do. WE hope the government and the music industry will be joining these efforts with some direct action on infrastructure and the cost of touring.’

Thus spake the excellent and indefatigable Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust (MVT) to Getintothis about ‘Music Matters at Selfridges’.

The department stores’ plan, as they have historically done with theatre, is to try to introduce live music culture to their shops.

With the help of the likes of A$AP Rocky and Skepta opening up arrangements, it would take a churl not to wish them all the best. They’ve surely done the sums, and beyond social goodwill it presumably makes sense to the music/retail moneymen.

However, have you ever seen a gig in a shop that hasn’t been really uncomfortable, if not buttock-clenchingly embarrassing?

This would seem to be because the kind of artists that shop managers and certain artist managers think would work are over-produced studio acts, unfamiliar with the nuances of live performance, mainly there in lip and hip service to lend their name to the shop as little more than a logo on their new release.

Even the Rough Trade ‘instores’ of legend – I even seem to remember The Strokes playing one – could be ropey by all accounts.

Record Store Day 2017: Getintothis’ round up

The fact that they are generally held in the middle of the day due to high street opening hours with scant attention afforded to atmosphere, lighting, visual/spatial dynamics or often even sound and over three or four tracks (hardly a carefully crafted album or twos worth of original graft) are all indicative of the arbitrary nature of the experience.

As Davyd points out, it’s heartening that the venue close rate in the capital has at last stabilised following the multi-pronged cultural assault of Tory council run routs, NIMBY neighbours and the stay at home and watch on Fb live/Youtube nature of t’tinternet.

But with power comes responsibility – if Edina and Patsy want to catch a bit of Wolf Alice while they sup their post stiletto-shopping Prosecco, at least try to make it a memorable experience. Maybe spill the bottle over the Astroturf style carpeting and witness your trainers stick to it as you pretend to demand an encore.

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  1. “it’s heartening that the venue close rate in the capital has at last stabilised following the multi-pronged cultural assault of Tory council run routs”

    What is this guff? What the fuck have the Conservatives got to do with venues in London closing? Venues open and close all the time and always have done, and only a moron could think there weren’t enough venues in London. Ever considered that in places like London, Liverpool and Manchester that there are too many venues? How many venues does anyone need around the Bold Street area? How many gigs have you been to where there were about 30 people present, including those who were there to see the support? And yet, in another city the same band are attracting hundreds?

    All venues are competition, and if there are 5 venues catering to the same audience, they’re all not going to do as well as they could or should. In Manchester – how many venues do you need in the northern quarter?

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