Support Your Local

The Problem


Our Great British pubs are closing at an alarming rate. This is partly because people arenít going out to drink in them and partly due to them being unprofitable for the pub managers due to wholesale beer, licencing, premises set up and tax costs being so high! The reduction in the number of people frequenting pubs began to take hold in the 1980s with the availability of good quality, cheaper (compared to the higher pub prices) alcohol from supermarkets and the sheer comfort of staying in with the (increasingly higher quality and greater programme choice) TV!

The fact is that as the availability and quality of cheap supermarket booze has risen, so has wholesale cost of beer to pub managers, who are tied tenants of pubs controlled by either large pub company chains or breweries (see a CAMRA You Tube about this). Over half of the pubs in the UK fall into this category (according to the pubexpertsguide). On average wholesale beer costs 50-60% more to "tied" pub managers than those who are not "tied" (according to the CAMRA You Tube). Pub managers have been faced with the dilemma of charging higher prices for their beer and risking losing their customers or keeping their prices low and not making enough profit to survive as a business.

Other factors making the problem worse have been the steadily increasing tax on alcohol, detrimental licensing law changes (requiring increased fees, legal process delays and possibly expensive structural alterations), the smoking ban (which has changed the pub customer profile and again required structural alterations to premises to create outside smoking areas) and improvements in TV and other home entertainment quality (further tempting potential pub goers to stay in)!

If we donít do something, we are going to lose our treasured British pubs. They have been with us for centuries, while other buildings and surrounding landscapes have changed, and they have provided a refuge for their local communities; somewhere for everyone to meet and be sociable. They are, in my humble opinion, a vital part of our society and we are seeing them disappear all around us! We canít sit back and let it happen and I believe that musicians can play a vital role in saving them.

After much lobbying from music related organisations, the government have now relaxed the licensing laws such that live music can freely take place in venues with 200 or less capacity. This will cover many of our pubs. PRS (Performing Rights Society) for Music carried out a survey recently, which revealed that live music is the best way to increase sales in pubs and pubs without live music are three times more likely to go under than pubs featuring live music! The Musicianís
Union has just brought out a ďLive Music KitĒ too, with advice on how to go about having live music in a venue.

Musicians may not be able to reduce the wholesale and set up costs for pub managers but we can encourage people back into their local pubs!
Read on for useful links and more...

Yet another local pub falls victim to a Tesco Express!

Calling all gigging musicians
               - become a  
     "Live Music Champion"

What I'm planning
I want to start an effective grass roots campaign calling on the help of musicians, who gig in pubs, and who will have "locals" they will be keen to help to save.

The thing is that, although live music has been shown (by PRS) to be capable of increasing a pub's profits, it doesn't always work if it isn't, for example, the right style for the clientele in that area, put on, on a regular night, featured or promoted properly etc. and I'm keen for gigging musicians to work with their pub managers to help them understand how to make their live music more successful for both parties.

Musicians want pubs to be successful with their music because ultimately, if a pub goes to the wall, the musician is losing a place to play too!

I want to encourage pubs and musicians to work together to improve the quality and effectiveness of their events and promotion by encouraging gigging musicians to become "Live Music Champions".


I am not receiving any money for doing this campaign - I just feel strongly that we could lose our pubs if we don't act!


"I have been gigging in pubs since the early 90s and I have seen plenty of things, which could be done to make live music more effective."

Email me:



Don't feel you have to take on too much - at the very least you can help by encouraging the managers of your chosen local to read this web page.
Choose your local pub(s), which you want to help. You can see some Suggestions - highlighted in purple on the Pubs and Live Music Champions table

See how you can help them below (you can get ideas from my "Events and Promotion" guide
The ďMU Live Music KitĒ
and my Example Events and Ideas. You might just want to encourage them to read it and let them get on with organising things themselves. If you are asked to work on organising or promoting on the pub's behalf, you should expect to get paid for your time.

Contact your chosen pub and discuss this with them. (You are not just trying to muscle in and get yourself extra gigs, or turn the music into the style you like, but helping them get a balanced programme of live music appropriate to their area). Helping your pub may well spin off some gigs your way though and help you keep existing gigs - so its worth doing!.

Let me know who you are and which pub(s) you are helping and I'll add your name and a link to your own web info on the Pubs and Live Music Champions table, which will help your own music to get some publicity as well as help inspire others to come forward.

"Like" the  facebook  page and keep in touch with everyone and let us know how you get on (I will help you if I can with advice).

Encourage others to become "Live Music Champions"!

Take a look at ideas from my "Events and Promotion" guide The ďMU Live Music KitĒ and my Example Events and see if this helps you sort out an effective live music strategy to improve your pub business.

Let me know if you'd be interested in getting help from a local musician and I'll add your pub to the
Pubs and Live Music Champions

Concerned Members of the Public:
Let me know if you know of a local pub, which needs help to allow it to survive and for which live music could be appropriate and I'll add it to the Pubs and Live Music Champions table.

Let your local pub know about this web page - to see if the ideas could be helpful.

If you know of any good, helpful, local, gigging musicians let them know about this campaign and see if they might like to help.

Links to Other Groups with campaigns to help Pubs (take a look)


Some more thoughts - please email me with yours:
Lets build up a nationwide network of grass roots "Live Music Champions" (LMCs). We can discuss how champions can be most effective (do email me) but it would include things like helping advise your chosen locals on web publicising, local poster, newspaper and magazine publicity, encouraging them to hold interesting (newsworthy and community) events involving music - like festivals and open mics and jams - and possibly building up a team of local helpers to help with doing leaflet shots, putting up posters locally etc. I have created a sheet of helpful advice below; "Events and Promotion" to help LMCs get started. I am not suggesting that you work for free. In the first instance, you can give free advice but if a pub manager needs help with actually putting web publicity in place or organising a festival, for example, he/she should be prepared to pay you something for your time and effort. See the discussion on Lemonrock...

How this initiative will help us too:
Being a Live Music Champion would, in return, help us as musicians, since we would be helping to ensure the survival of our local, live music pubs, which would ensure that we continued to have some local places to play live music in! Other pubs might also be inspired by the success of the live music pubs and be encouraged to start having more live music (especially now that for small audiences a live music license is no longer required!) . Also, musicians might gain a little more respect from their pub clients (we are often given less consideration than we should be). I also hope that this will help to bring local communities together by encouraging people to meet and have fun together outside their homes, where the growing trend is for us to sit, isolated and watch TV.

Steps I Have Taken So Far
To start with, I have:-

Contacted Mac MacLaren, the Lemonrock editor
Contacted Jim Margetts, the Gigall editor
Contacted Al Murray (the pub landlord, who is passionate about this and was interviewed in the Mirror)
Contacted CAMRA
Contacted journalist Stephen Hayward, who wrote a piece about this in the Sunday Mirror newspaper
Contacted Brian Logan, a journalist who wrote about pub bands in the Guardian
Contacted the Musician's Union.
Created a press release. Download Press Release
Created a SYL banner
Sent press releases and images to newspapers and magazines.

I have asked all of these people and groups for comments and whether they would help to support this idea in any way.

I have had some very positive responses (see "Progress" table below)

Sunday Mirror Article - just come out - thanks Stephen!

Download a PDF version of "Events and Promotion"

                    Events and Promotion
This section will help you and/or your pub manager choose and promote events. There are web sites, magazines, newspapers and radio stations you can get promotional help from. Build up a support team of local helpers for things like delivering leaflets.

Create a Buzz: You will also get more help if you create a buzz and involve your local community - for instance, I recently got a duo gig opposite the Royal Military School of Music (Kneller Hall) with my flute and sax player (who is classically trained and learning to improvise). I contacted Kneller Hall and invited their musicians to come to our gig and have a go at improvising with us. I then contacted the local paper and told them about it.

Engage your Local Community: You have to think of ways to encourage your local community to come along. I also offer support spots at my local gigs to good, local musicians from my Open Mic nights and they also bring more people along to gigs. To survive, a pub needs to get local people used to visiting it and having a good time - so that they will come back. By the same token, the pub has to make sure that it is up to scratch with its facilities and food / drink, otherwise the first visit by a potential new regular customer might be their last!

Live Music Events
Make it Regular: Occasional gigs, unless BIG SPECIAL events, can get overlooked / forgotten by the locals. If they get used to the live music being on a particular day of the week / month and they enjoy it, they will know when to come back and you stand more chance of getting people in.

Make it Special: Create a feature of the music with lighting (eg spotlamps, candles on the tables) and donít detract from it by having the TV beside the performance space on as well.

Open Mic Nights and Jam Nights: These are great community events, which encourage audience participation and can potentially bring in big crowds as well as be lots of fun. You can take a look at the Open Mic which I run at

Solo/Duo/Trio/Band Gigs: If you are putting on gigs, you need to think about the music style which will work at your pub, make sure posters get put up in and around the pub and publicity (see below) is utilised to maximise the buzz about the music as well as the pubís special facilities.

Music Style: Music genres (eg rock, punk, blues, jazz, folk) will have their own specialised publicity and following on top of the general live music label - so you should search around for these windows of opportunity to let those genre fans know about the act (of their style) you have chosen to put on at your pub. For instance folk music has many fans - see some useful folk music links

Festivals: These give you a greater opportunity to draw in the local community as well as create a buzz because they are bigger events.

Web Help
Pub Web Site:
Encourage your pub to create a proper web-site or at least a Facebook page, which is kept up to date.

Pub Guides
Help to get your pub more visible (explaining the pubs unique selling points to attract more customers) on (and seek advice from) some of the many
Pub Guides.
At the moment,
Beer In The Evening looks like being a very good pub guide to be featured on - as it comes up high on pub searches. Also encourage locals to put their positive experiencs of the pub in the reviews sections.

I also created
my own Pub Guide - (a cunning plan to help publicise the pubs as well as draw people to my own web site and music! I also find it useful for putting the pub info onto live music listing sites and can act as a mini web site for any pub which doesn't have any other web presence).

Gig Guides:
Search for gigs - this will reveal the latest, best sites (I recommend Lemonrock - certainly in my region - and Gigall - more the west of Britain at the moment) to put your gigs on.
Here are some examples:-

  Lemonrock -
  Reverbnation -
  Gigall -
  Skiddle -
  Britevents -
  Ents 24 -
  Eventful -   
  Wozzon -
  Whatís Happening -


See more examples

Data Base: Collect audience email addresses at your events and do regular future event email-shots to them.
Facebook: Build up your friends. Use Facebook to create events pages and invite friends along.
You Tube: Create a You Tube account to put videos (with permission) of your music or from your events.
Twitter: Make an account and build up your followers. Use tweets to tell followers about events.
Linked In: Build up your professional network and post event news

Musicianís Union:
Provides advice and resource support including contracts, health and safety issues, promotion and useful contacts. See:-

The ďMU Live Music KitĒ

Other important organisation examples

Search for magazines. You will find regional magazines as well as music magazines to put news of your events. 
Here are some examples:-

Songlines -
RockíNíReel -
Time Out -

See more examples

Here are some regional examples (national ones are harder to get your event news into):-

Surrey Mirror -
Surrey Advertiser -
Richmond and Twickenham Times -

See more examples

Here are some regional examples (national ones are harder to get your event news into):-
BBC local radio -

See more examples


My Example Events and Ideas - Some Inspiration?

Pub Guide

I created my own "Live Music Pub Guide", which not only helps music loving people find what live music is going on in a large number of pubs where I have gigged in the past (as I also give all the pubs which book myself solo, or my "Kindred Spirit" duo/trio/band a venue page [plus a link to it from my pub guide], if they don't already have one, on "Lemonrock", which allows other musicians or pubs having live music to register their own gigs and music loving public to find them! I also benefit from having my pub guide because I put green flags on all the pubs which have myself or my "Kindred Spirit" duo/trio/band booked, which link back to the gigs page for date and time information. Have a look at my pub guide to see more (click on the link or image button - to the left)...

Example Events
Here are some examples of events I have instigated myself, which I hope might inspire (below). I am aiming to help my chosen pubs to keep going (as well as give me some paid work - since being a musician is my living) by thinking creatively about live music events which might work well for them and running them past the pub managers. Once these events are given the go ahead, I do my best to spread the word with information on web sites, posters/flyers, email shots to my fans / friends and press releases to the local press / radio. Another thing you can do is to encourage your pubs to have their own web sites. All of my chosen ones have main web sites, I have made sure they are on Lemonrock but not all of them are on Facebook (which is a useful one), so a situation I can help to improve!

At the Ailsa Tavern, Twickenham

1. Ailsa Open Mic - see

I set this up to be regular (so locals would get to know when it was on easily), well publicised (with posters, web page, Facebook page, on other Open Mic and live music web sites. I encouraged fellow musician Alan Dublon to run a further Open Mic per month at the Ailsa.



2. Ailsa Festival - see

At the festival (July 5th, 6th, 7th) there are going to be 2 super concerts, jams, workshops, an open mic AND a music talent contest we are calling "Rising Stars" for musicians keen to go further in the music business. We hope to have 3 judges with links in the music industry and prizes include a cash sum and a spot at the St Margarets Fair and Twickenham Green Fair. We hope to get further prizes for the winner like support spots to bigger names, radio interview / live performance. As well as all the music there will be great hand made, mediterranean inspired food (from new chef), a hog roast and plenty of real ales!








At the Fox Inn, Hanwell
1. New Open Mic - see
I encouraged the pub managers and fellow musician Piers Hogg to give an Open Mic night a try because I thought it would help them bring in trade - and it has!

At the Duke of Cambridge, Whitton
I encouraged the pub managers to book a duo Kindred Spirit gig, in 2012, with my classically trained flute and saxophone player, Catherine Dimmock, and tried to interest the musicians at Kneller Hall (the Military School of music opposite the Duke of Cambridge) to come along and even bring instruments and come and "have a go" at improvising with me. I contacted Kneller Hall, sent them posters and sent press releases to the local papers. This was not very successful - but I tried! Unfortunately this pub is a bit small inside for Open Mics and jams plus regular live music gigs - so I'm not sure that live music will really be able to help this particular pub! Shame - cos its a nice one!

Pubs and Live Music Champions Table
NOTE: Some great pubs (suggestions from various people), which don't currently have live music champions,
             and could probably do with your help to survive, are
highlighted in purple.

Bridge House

Paley Street, Maidenhead, SL6 3JS


The Long Barn

Cippenham Lane, Slough, SL1 5AH

The Bull

7 High St., Iver,  SL0 9ND


The Falcon

Watery Lane, Wooburn Green, HP10 0NE


The Badgers Wood

Wolverton Rd, Tadley, Baughurst, RG26 5JH

The Lamb Inn

21 Winchester Street, Andover, SP10 2EA

Prince of Wales

184 Rectory Rd., Farnborough GU14 8AL

Ailsa Tavern

St Margarets Rd, Twickenham, TW1 1NJ

Elaine Samuels
Barley Mow

Watersplash Lane, Shepperton TW17 0EE

Gavin Jones

Duke of Cambridge

Kneller Rd., Twickenham, TW2 7DT

Elaine Samuels

The Fox Inn

Green Lane, Olde Hanwell, London, W7 2PJ

Elaine Samuels

The Plough Inn

10 Tenelow Lane, Norwood Green, UB2 4ZG


Rose and Crown

Church Place,  St. Mary's Rd, Ealing, W5 4HN


The Windmill

45 Bell Rd., Hounslow, TW3 3NX

Bricklayers Arms

The Green, Shamley Green, GU5 0UA 



Aldershot Road, Guildford, GU3 3AA


The Horns

Crondall, Farnham, Surrey GU10 5RJ

Vic Cracknell

The Jolly Sailor

64, West St, Farnham, GU9 7EH



September 24th Lemonrock comments and support

Positive and constructive comments from Lemonrock editor Mac MacLaren:-

I sympathise. Personally, I love a good pub, and have supported them whenever I can in the past. I appreciate that UK pubs are dying on their feet; I've seen it everywhere. Beer is expensive, venues are uncomfortable,and the lure of the sofa, cheap booze from Tesco etc, 200 TV channels, and being able to smoke in your own house, all make for a compelling alternative.
          There are other problems: anti-social elements who don't get barred; lack of suitable drinks, especially Real Ale from cask, and decent wines; lack of food; too much TV; poor management; owners who skim off all the landlord's profits, etc.
           Over the years, Lemonrock has tried very hard to engage pubs into getting involved on the web, where live music is concerned. There are two main problems still: a lack of IT skills in the sector, and a constant changeover in many pubs, which makes running them a nightmare (I've seen this countless times when venues attempt to put on live music, either from scratch or as someone takes over a shambles of a gig diary, if they can actually find one!). Many other web sites are currently trying to engage with pubs, but none of them has a big following in terms of pubs signing up.
            I think any "save your local" campaign needs to address a lack of IT skills and help venues to market themselves. There are still pubs who advertise events only within their own walls! The idea of "events" is crucial, I think: if landlords expect people to turn up, they need to have a constant offering of interesting events (or beers!) which will win people through the door. My local, the Mermaid in St Albans, held a hugely successful "Belgian Evening" a few months ago on a Tuesday, and it was packed. We had a great time, and enjoyed the unique food and drinks on offer. The following Tuesday, the pub was completely empty (I know, I popped in to say hello!).

September 25th Sunday Mirror piece Indication from Stephen Hayward that he'd be interested in writing a follow up piece in the Sunday Mirror about all this
October 3rd MU Support
Alex Mann, from the Musician's Union, has pointed out the MUs campaign and Live Music Kit plus offered support.
October 8th

Gigall Support

Jim, editor of 
Gigall contacted and he has offered his support to "make it happen". 

October 8th I contact Guardian Brian Logan, a journalist who writes for the Guardian contacted to see if he could write a piece about the campaign
October 9th PRS tallies discussion

There have been a few emails regarding the expense and complexity of the PRS tallys which pubs need to pay for hosting live music. If you have an opinion or constructive suggestion about this perhaps we could use the Lemonrock Forum (you need to join Lemonrock as  music lover, which is free and then go to the
Lemonrock forum
? Someone do get the ball rolling on this discussion? Here' s the email that started the discussion:-

Hi Elaine, Just read about you on Gigall. Not sure how we can link up but take a look at my Pub on . We are passionate about music and support our local bands by giving them a stage on a Fri or a Sat night. We host Punk Festivals over a 3 day period in May (3rd - 5th 2013) and Metal Festivals as well (June 22nd)> We rely on music to bring customers in. What I have found that is screwwing the pubs is PRS. We £475 a month to host bands twice a week. However there are loads of other venues by me that have started up since I have been in and pay no PRS.
The bill from them just keeps going up and up and you get nothing for it really. It drives me insane. PPL has gone up 200% and that is also screwing hosts over. Lets see what we can do together.
Regards, Sam Hill

I thought I should get back to you and explain the MU's view on this. PRS license fees are a legitimate and lawful cost which pays for the right for musical works to be performed in public. Without these license fees, not only would there be a massive financial impact on songwriters income who create the music in the first place, but it could also undermine the value of the music and the infrastructure which supports live performance, as well as giving the impression that live music is something that can be obtained for free. Given the problems that the concept of music being given away for free without the permission of the artist  is creating in the record industry, I can't imagine that anyone would want to see this repeated in the live arena.

The new
MU Live Music Kit offers advice to small and grassroots venues in terms of getting the most out of live music; developing audiences, effective promotion etc - there could well be useful advice here in terms of making the most out of hosting live music (see link).
It could be worth the venue checking with PRS for Music what their tariff actually covers - it may be that the license fee also incorporates the jukebox, radio etc too.
While this may seem like an unwelcome cost to the venue, PRS supports music writers and musicians where their songs are performed live in venues such as described below. What venues get for their PRS license is the right to have live music in the first place. 

Follow the discussion - and add to it - on Lemonrock at

October 19th Blues Web site / Magazine to cover story

The Blues web site and soon to launch, online magazines; Rootsand are going to cover the "Support Your Local story.

October 19th SYL Banner created I created the SYL banner - for use as a link button on other related web sites
October 21st Mirror Article
The article written by Stephen Hayward comes out in the Sunday Mirror.
October 29th CAMRA

Jon Howard, Press Manager CAMRA, Campaign for Real Ale says:-

...I have passed this on to our editorial team now for consideration - it sounds a fantastic initiative ...