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This is what the Glastonbury 2024 line-up would look like without grassroots music venues

The Glastonbury line-up poster has been edited to remove every artist that started their career in grassroots venues – and hardly any names are left standing.

The first taste of the festival’s 2024 line-up was shared on Thursday (March 14), with Dua Lipa, Coldplay and SZA topping the bill.

But as revealed by the Music Venue Trust’s edit of the poster on social media, the vast majority of the dozens of names announced so far started their careers coming through the small music venues that now find themselves straining under unbearable pressure in the UK in 2024.

Only names such as Nigerian afrobeats superstar Burna Boy, the K-pop group SEVENTEEN and Camila Cabello, who rose to fame on the US version of The X Factor, remain when the direct beneficiaries of grassroots venues are taken away.

Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd commented on the edited poster, writing on X/Twitter: “Yesterday I was read a quote from a senior figure in the live music industry which ran as follows: ‘We don’t see any problems in the pipeline for developing the next Ed Sheerans etc. due to grassroots music venues closing, the headliners are still coming.’ I call bullshit.”

The revelation comes at a time when the national infrastructure around live music is at a crisis point. In January, a report was published by the Music Venues Trust (MVT) outlining the “disaster” that struck the UK’s grassroots music venues in 2023, with calls increasing for a ticket levy on larger arenas and investment from the wider industry.

Last year saw the MVT deliver their first annual report at the Houses Of Parliament – warning grassroots gig spaces in the UK were “going over a cliff” without urgent government action and investment from new large arenas. After the stark warning that the UK was set to lose 10 per cent of its grassroots music venues in 2023, the MVT and others from the sector ended the year by telling NME how 2023 was the “worst year for venue closures” while “no one in music industry seems to care”.

Among the MVT’s key findings into their “most challenging year”, it has been reported that last year saw 125 UK venues abandon live music and that over half of them had shut entirely – including the legendary Moles in Bath. Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing shockwaves of COVID-19.

Introducing the report at the House of Commons, MVT COO Beverley Whitrick said: “These venues are so important – partly because they are in these communities across the nations in large cities, small cities, towns and sometimes rural locations as well.

“23.6million people visited a grassroots music venue in the UK in 2023, which is an increase on the previous year. Sometimes people say to us when they ask about closures, ‘Is it that people are not interested in going anymore?’ Of course, that’s not the case at all.

“The wish to see artists, to connect with them in small spaces in local venues is as high as it’s ever been.”

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