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Taxi app FREENOW extends national donation campaign in support of Music Venue Trust


Image credit: FREENOW

Leading taxi app FREENOW has announced its third year of financial support for the Music Venue Trust (MVT). This initiative follows previous efforts, including underwriting 160 shows nationwide in 2022, donating £1 per ride in 2023, and providing transport for Frank Turner during his MVT World Record attempt in May 2024.


Now live, the Round Up and Donate function on the FREENOW app will once again benefit MVT. Users can opt-in to round up their fare, with the additional funds going directly to MVT. These donations support grassroots music venues across the country, bolstering the wider nighttime economy.

This initiative coincides with a report from the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee. The report details the critical state of grassroots music venues (GMVs), which are vital for nurturing professional, creative, and technical music talent. GMVs are currently closing at a rate of two per week, with artists facing significant challenges due to the cost of touring and a lack of available venues.


MVT has described 2023 as the most challenging year since its inception in 2014. Approximately 16% of GMVs either closed or ceased live music programming last year, resulting in the loss of 30,000 shows and 4,000 jobs.


The new donation feature has received widespread industry support. Major players like Ticketmaster and Live Nation have pledged their backing, alongside high-profile endorsements from The Libertines, Andy Burnham, and Steve Lamacq. The Libertines have also joined MVT as Patrons, alongside Sir Paul McCartney, Tom Grennan, Nova Twins, and Elbow.


FREENOW’s previous initiatives with MVT have garnered public support from prominent artists including Ed Sheeran, Tom Grennan, Nova Twins, Public Service Broadcasting, Benjamin Clementine, and Bernard Butler.

Funds raised through the Round Up and Donate feature will be utilised by MVT to operate its Emergency Response Service (ERS). This service has been crucial in preventing venue closures since 2017 by addressing threats from redevelopment, noise complaints, rising energy costs, and landlord disputes. In 2023, the ERS provided specialist advice in 164 cases, the highest annual figure to date.


Venues also benefit from the venue support team, receiving tailored advice on business models, operational viability, legal issues, licensing, planning, acoustics, and health and safety.


Mariusz Zabrocki, General Manager at FREENOW UK, said: "The UK's vibrant and innovative music scene is crucial to the nighttime economy. Over the last few years, the industry has struggled, and many grassroots venues in London and beyond have closed, impacting those directly and indirectly related to them, such as our users and taxi drivers. As such, supporting MVT for a third consecutive year was a no-brainer, and we are delighted to direct our Round Up and Donate funds in the UK to MVT to ensure grassroots venues stay open and that our night-time economy in the capital and beyond can thrive."

 

London Black cab driver, J. Hamilton, said: "As a taxi driver working the London night shift for over a decade, I've witnessed first-hand the decline of our city's vibrant night life. In the past five years, I've seen fewer people out in central London, and an increase in bars, clubs and venues shutting down. This has not only affected us as drivers but also the many businesses that depend on people being out and about in the city. It is positive to see FREENOW putting this feature in place to help these venues remain open and I hope to see London’s streets bustling again soon.”

 

Fresh off the back of their No1 album and in support of the campaign, The Libertines said: "The UK grassroots music circuit is more than just small local venues. It is absolutely crucial to emerging talent. It is the vanguard of independent expression and free speech outside the corporate and commerce based music industry. It is a labour of love for those who run the venues and it is a rite of passage for new acts cutting their teeth. Without this community we would never have gotten our music into the wider world at large. 


“We have played hundreds of these gigs over the last 2 decades, each one unique and intimate in a way that only these smaller venues can provide. We also run a couple of our own. We hope this new partnership with FREENOW and MVT raises loads of cash to keep them going and we’re honoured to be joining MVT as patrons to help recognise and protect the grassroots circuit. Long live the MVT, long live grassroots venues and long live new music."

 

Frank Turner said: “Hats off to FREENOW for their continued support for the Music Venue Trust. They backed my world record of shows in independent venues and have helped in countless other ways. It’s so encouraging to see a company like them getting involved to help the vital grassroots ecosystem. I hope FREENOW raise loads more money for MVT with their new round up to donate feature.”

 

Steve Lamacq, radio presenter and Music Venue Trust Patron, added: “It's terrific to see a company like FREENOW investing so heavily into grassroots music venues for a third time. Their continued support makes a real difference.”

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