LMF Meeting – 10th March 2014
Leicester Music Forum meeting
by Trevor Locke
Last night the third meeting of the Leicester Music Forum took place; that gave me an opportunity to bow out of the bridge and hand over the captaincy to others. Speaking at the meeting, I made the point that, in my view, the value of the Forum rested squarely in its ability to make things happen.
The LMF group on Facebook has provided a platform in which members of the local musical community can air their views, express their concerns and flag up ideas – all of which has been both interesting and useful. The value of these face-to-face meetings is, however, about deciding what to do and then people going away and getting on with practical tasks.
So what has been achieved? The first meeting followed the line of thinking on the Facebook group, giving a fairly widespread priority to the publicising and marketing of live music events. Most people wanted to see better use being made of the Leicester Events data that has been in existence for some time – on the one provided by Cuttlefish through the work of Sean Clark.
Sean presented his system at last night’s meeting and I for one was impressed by the way these things can work and the opportunities that exist for enriching access to information about live music in the city. In addition to the list of gig dates, there are facilities to give a more content-rich experience to people when they are in he vicinity of a live music venue. Using the geographical capabilities of mobile phones, a visit could access information about what’s happening at that venue and even some of the bands that are playing there.
What inspired me about the ideas presented by Sean was the vision of a city wired up for music and the arts. If people are interested in music and have a mobile phone, it will be easy to find out what is going on. Interestingly, it was reported that the number of searches made on mobile phones has now out-stripped those made on computers. The world it seems has migrated away from PCs to phones as the main method of connecting to and using the Internet.
The data in the Leicester Events Guide is good but there are obvious holes. One venue notable by its absence from the listing of music events is The Shed. Most other venues have their dates on the list. What tends to be missing is the large number of music gigs taking place at pubs; but one web site is seeking to tackle this.
Keeping it up
What the organisers of music now need to do is to make sure that the system is kept up to date. Behind this system there is one point frequently made by venues and promoters: there are too many different places where gigs need to be listed; having one central point where all gig dates can be placed would make the task much easier.
Getting the gigs guide out there
Simon and Grant from Big Local App explained how their phone-based apps can take the data from the Leicester Events Guide and push it out through their UK-wide system of widgets. So, anyone planning to come to Leicester can find out what is happening here in our venues and festivals.
The Guide can be fed into any website that wants it and provides the source for other types of media – including newspapers and radio stations. On that subject, Jon O’Neill explained the talks he has had with the Leicester Mercury and some of the local radio stations. Despite widespread availability of the Internet (through computers and phones) there are some people who just do not use it and depend on print or wireless to find out what is going on.
It is up to us – the aficionados of live music – to pester all these outlets to use the data feed and make sure that the information about gigs is getting put out to the world.
Will more fans go to gigs?
The driving force behind all these developments is the desire to see more people standing on front of stages, enjoying the music that bands have to offer. Making the listings available more widely will not of itself put bums on seats. Live music is a market which, like any other market, is driven by supply and demand. Gigs are where the desire for music come into balance with the supply of tunes.
Are the bands of Leicester giving the music-loving population what they want? That is a question that needs to be tackled by a future Forum meeting. There are dozens of gigs every week throughout the city and county, supplemented by there being festivals every weekend from May to September. Whether your desire is for bands, singers or rappers, for metal, folk or blues, there is an act out there for you. Is that giving music fans what they want?
There is only one way to find out. See which gigs get the audiences. What we can’t see are the gigs that are not being provided. We simply don’t know if there is an un-tapped fan-base for certain kinds of music because no one is providing it. You can’t measure what doesn’t happen.
You can however test it. If promoters would be willing to take risks and try new and experimental line-ups, it might uncover a demand for musical experiences which are out of the ordinary. I have argued this case before.
Leicester’s music: nationally important
Most people agree that our local area is rich in music that deserves greater recognition at national level. Our bands and artists can equal those of any other UK city. Much more needs to be done to establish Leicester as a destination for music fans and for reps from the music industry. Improving the way live is organised and delivered will help but the step beyond that is to shout more loudly about Leicester’s musical offerings.
An article in NME ‘Which is the UK’s most rock’n’roll city?’ put Leicester on its list but only right at the bottom and left it up to Tom Meighan to tell the world that Kasabian was the only band in Leicester; asked how does Leicester compete, Tom commented: ‘We were sort of left alone, because there hadn’t been a lot to come out of the place before us.’ No mention there of By the Rivers but ‘Super Revolver ‘[sic] did get a mention.
How do we get Leicester firmly placed on the map of the UK’s music?
Discuss. At a future Forum meeting.
Editorial comment: that was the year that was, 2013