Night And Day, Manchester

As part of Independent Venue Week, Gareth Butterworth from the Night and Day Café in Manchester gives us his views on the health of UK live music…

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 23 Jan 2015
  • min read
Independent Venue Week kicks off on Monday 26 January. To celebrate we’re speaking to a host of participating venues and artists to find out why the UK’s network of smaller venues is so crucial to our music scene.

It’s down to them and their tireless work hosting gigs and live performances that the UK's pool of musical talent is bubbling over with great new acts and artists. However, with cuts in funding and legislation around live music tightening, running such a venue can be a thankless task.

From 26 January, the PRS for Music supported Independent Venue Week is doing its best to shine a spotlight on this live music infrastructure. The Night and Day Café in Manchester is one of the best known smaller venues in the UK and essential part of this network. The venue’s stage is a right of passage for every local act including those who've gone on to big things including Elbow and Everything Everything. M quizzed Night and Day’s Gareth Butterworth on the health of the city’s live music scene…

When did you start working in live music?

May/June 2010.

How has the business changed since then?

It’s difficult to say as I was working mainly with local acts then rather than touring artists too. Most ethics behind my promoting are very similar though.

How have the relationships between artists, promoters and venues changed?

Again, as above. Relationships are still and always have been extremely important. I think more DIY, independent promoters are popping up which is good as it gives healthy competition.

How have audiences changed?

I think crowds will change with music trends. People who are into music will still find stuff to go to.

Why are independent music venues so important to communities and local economies?

It provides a great platform for the art, particular musicians as it gives them an opportunity to express themselves. It’s a place not only to perform but to provide entertainment too.

What are the biggest challenges you face as an indie venue?

I suppose costs. Manchester hosts the most venues per person in the UK (I think) which makes competition fierce. It’s great for music fans like myself but you really have to work hard to get the place busy.

Why did you get involved in IVW and how does the initiative help your business?

It’s a perfect way to let the nation know about these venues and host special shows that may not ever happen if it wasn't for such an organisation. It raises issues that some venues may be facing and shows great support to businesses like ourselves.

What can be done to better support and protect the UK's small venues?

People attending shows, bands, promoters and venues working harder to promote shows. You can't force people to come out their house but you need to make sure you've done all you can to try and persuade them.

What advice can you give to artists trying to establish themselves as a decent live act?

Believe in what you do. Practice! Get a firm set and hammer rehearsals. It doesn't matter how good your songs are, if you're not tight then people will criticise. Be clever and enthusiastic with branding/marketing. Be as professional and polite as possible with promoters, fans, engineers etc. Build relationships. Take a bit of pride in appearance - you don't have to be a gimmick but it’s good to look the part too. Enjoy it.

Visit the IVW website to pick up tickets for the gig and the other shows taking place.

M magazine will be hosting a live showcase on 28 January at the Sebright Arms as part of IVW. Find out more about the event.