Last year Digital Central undertook a survey of live music venues in the West Midlands to try and pinpoint where investment is needed. They questioned 184 people, 141 of whom were audience members with the rest being promoters or performers.
You can download a PDF of the report but here are the conclusions:
The most significant factor was that a high proportion of the respondents (82.3%) felt that the live music venue needed to have a good sound system. Acoustics were also mentioned in relation to
sound in the open question.
The other factors that people felt were most important to a great music venue were that the venue wasnâ€™t too large and that they can see the stage clearly.
Audiences value hearing a wide range of genres from both local and established bands. Venue owners and promoters should play their part in getting the mix right.
Audience members had different views on where their favourite music venues were with over half of responses being unique.
These findings have informed their Music Venue Development Fund where small to medium sized venues can apply for up to Â£7,500 to make a capital investment in the premises to improve the user experience. There are two round of applications, the first one ending on Wednesday with another on June 29th.
For me the big elephant in the room is what’s going to happen to the Carling Academy when that area is demolished in a couple of years. While it’s not a pretty venue by any stretch (“… basically an empty shell; empty, that is, apart from sticky carpets, sticky handrails, and sticky ceilings.“) it does have an important role. If it’s not replaced or relocated effectively the halo effect on Birmingham’s music scene will be negative.
Serendipitously, Russ of The Communion, a community site with an emphasis on the rock/metal side of things, also did a gig venue survey last year with an emphasis on asking the bands that play in them. The results, in two parts, are here and here and the league table looks like this:
The Actress & Bishop, Birmingham â€“ 80.2%
The Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham â€“ 79.8%
The Market Tavern, Digbeth, Birmingham â€“ 74%
The Hare & Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham â€“ 69.8%
The Flapper & Firkin, Birmingham â€“ 68.8%
Scruffy Murphyâ€™s, Birmingham â€“ 68.4%
The Jug Of Ale, Moseley, Birmingham â€“ 66%
The Medicine Bar, Digbeth, Birmingham â€“ 59.4%
Edwards No. 8, Birmingham â€“ 56.8%
The Little Civic, Wolverhampton â€“ 52.8%
The Barfly, Birmingham â€“ 50%
Wulfrun Hall, Wolverhampton â€“ 49%
The Bar Academy, Birmingham, â€“ 47.8%
The Academy 2, Birmingham, â€“ 43.4%
The Academy, Birmingham â€“ 42%
Civic Hall, Wolverhampton â€“ 41.6%
Digital Central have a weblog which is good to see.
Russ is no longer involved with The Communion but has an active blog of his own which, amongst other things, covers the many gigs and events he goes to.
Photo of The New York Howl at the Jug of Ale in Moseley taken by myself.