Taxi app FREENOW has pledged to help save grassroots music venues by donating £1 from every ride to the cause.
- READ MORE: UK to lose 10 per cent of grassroots venues in 2023, as calls grow for rest of industry to invest
The incentive comes after a report was shared by Music Venue Trust (MVT) – a leading charity devoted to protecting, securing and improving UK Grassroots Music Venues across the country – detailing that the UK is set to lose 10 per cent of its grassroots music venues in 2023 due to issues such as the cost of living crisis.
Now, to help save grassroots music venues across the country from closure, taxi app FREENOW has launched a new ‘Ride for Music’ initiative – pledging £1 for each taxi ride to Music Venue Trust.
Already, the music industry has rallied behind the initiative, and the likes of Ed Sheeran, Steve Lamacq, Ticketmaster and Academy Music Group (AMG) have all come forward to pledge their support.
With the ‘Ride For Music’ incentive, FREENOW has guaranteed a minimum commitment of £200,000 to be donated to the cause, and all users need to do to ensure the donation is made is top ‘opt in’, at no extra cost to them.
“Like so many musicians, I started out playing in grassroots music venues. They are such a vital part of the music ecosystem. Without them, I definitely would not have had the chance to hone my craft and become the artist I am today,” said Ed Sheeran. “I applaud the Ride for Music campaign and hope it raises loads of money for Music Venue Trust, who work tirelessly to both protect and promote these wonderful spaces.”
Additionally, FREENOW’s UK Head of Marketing Michelle de Maat added: “By contributing to the resilience of these vital spaces during such challenging times, we aim to ensure that the stages remain lit, and artists have a place to showcase their talent. Ultimately, this supports our users, drivers and all those who rely on these exceptional venues and a thriving nightlife throughout the country.”
All funds raised through ‘Ride For Music’ will go to the Pipeline Investment Fund (PIF) – a grant-giving fund established by Music Venue Trust with the support of the Music Venues Alliance. PIF allows small-scale grant applications (up to £5,000) from UK-based Grassroots Music Venues to support three areas of work: improving venue viability, improvements to infrastructure and ownership investment.
“People can make a genuine difference to Music Venue Trust’s ability to prevent venue closures, support artists, crew and staff,” explained Mark Davyd, founder and CEO of Music Venue Trust. “FREENOW have made it simple for you to be part of the solution, and help the whole music and night time economy.”
This is the second year that FREENOW has joined efforts with Music Venue Trust; in 2022, the Company underwrote the costs of 120 shows by independent artists in 60 venues across the UK, supporting venues and artists. Additionally, this year it has launched partnerships with The Mercury Prize and Brockwell Live. Find out more about ‘Ride For Music’ on FREENOW’s website.
A similar initiative for grassroots venues was shown by Enter Shikari earlier this year, when the band announced that they would be donating £1 from every ticket sold to their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour to benefit the Music Venue Trust.
Additionally, just last week (October 10) Ticketmaster announced details of a new Music Venue Trust charity upsell option – enabling fans to make direct contributions to MVT when purchasing tickets for upcoming concerts.
The upsell launched today (October 17) in light of Venues Day 2023, and will run for one month. Additionally, Ticketmaster has committed to match all donations received and run this upsell yearly.
Less than a week before Ticketmaster launched this initiative to help MVT, Halifax Piece Hall had also announced a scheme that will support grassroots music venues in Calderdale borough through the PIF.
This came as a groundbreaking agreement was signed between The Piece Hall as well as promoters Cuffe and Taylor, giving concertgoers an option to add a donation to MVT when purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster. This made The Piece Hall the first major UK venue to provide fans with the option to support independent venues directly at the point of purchase.
Speaking to NME about the MVT’s warning from earlier this year, Davyd warned that the entire live music industry was headed “over a cliff edge” without government action or without eight of the UK’s new large arenas to “contribute to the security of the wider music ecosystem by investing a percentage of every ticket they sell into the grassroots music ecosystem”.
“There are more big concerts going on and people are paying more money for tickets than they ever have,” he said.
“This is the best year for live music in the UK in terms of gross receipts that there’s ever going to be. It’s not possible to make an argument that this can be accompanied by 100 venues closing down, cutting down access to live music for communities and cutting off the talent pipeline for artists that’ll never get to play.”
Following the comments, a number of the eight new arenas set to open in the UK – including Manchester’s Co-Op Live and London’s Sphere – later spoke to NME, responding to the call to invest in the grassroots music sector.
In addition to voicing its concerns to NME, MVT recently announced the first acquisition under its public ownership scheme.
The #OwnOurVenues initiative was first announced in May, following the news that legendary gig spaces like North London’s Nambucca and Sheffield’s Leadmill were closing their doors or under threat, respectively.
Having been backed by Ed Sheeran, the scheme aims to secure the long-term futures of such venues by directly tackling the issue of ownership. The campaign has been likened to “The National Trust, but for venues”.
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