I note the current Consultation: Music Industry in Wales, which was brought to my attention via social media, ultimately from a short piece by a reporter on walesonline.co.uk and my comments relate primarily to the consultation areas of

the availability of suitable venues for live music across the country

and

the opportunities for talent development, from grassroots to larger venues

I reply in my individual capacity as an informed, active consumer of live music in south Wales and elsewhere. My correspondence is intended to provide some idea of who the broad group of consumers of the Music Industry in Wales may include.

Some background facts and figures:

In the examples above, I have sometimes made the trip to Bristol to see the same band that I have also seen in Cardiff on the same tour but much more frequently bands choose only one out of Bristol and Cardiff to play – and that is usually Bristol.

I would not like to think how much money that adds up to that I have put into the night-time economy, both in Cardiff and in other cities, but I do know that the impacts, both economical and environmental are significant.

The 63 events I have been to in Cardiff since the start of 2016 cost on average £22.50. 137 trips to Bristol at an equivalent current price of £22.50 makes a bit over £3000 in today’s money that I’ve spent on tickets for venues in Bristol that I could have been putting into business in Cardiff, had equivalent venues and plausible crowds been available in Cardiff.

Even a modest, well-maintained car has an ongoing impact in terms of exhaust pollution over 137 times the 100 mile round-trip to Bristol. Nobody should be in any doubt that more of that sort of travel will be the result, should more venues in Cardiff close in the future, reducing the scope of places available for travelling musicians to play.

The key thing that makes a music industry viable in the modern age is a range of venues with capacities from the tens of people up to the thousands in a series of steps. My records include watching James Blunt play third on the bill to a Cardiff crowd of no more than twenty; his subsequent breakthrough success meant he would never return to that same venue even as a headline act but his success is a rare, minority story.

In my experience, a local act can play at the same level for some time, occasionally supporting higher profile visiting acts and sometimes with their own appeal expanding such that they can play higher capacity venues. Equally, it is not impossible for promoters to book visiting acts to play in a higher capacity venue and then find that tickets do not sell as well as expected. Without those other, smaller venues, the only options are to carry on at a financial loss or to cancel the show. Moving the show to an alternative venue of lesser capacity is an option that it is in the interest of all parties to retain.

I note the suggestion of increased parking capacity for the Mermaid Quay area in the bay in recent local news. If you are going to have event facilities, you absolutely do need parking facilities too for the event venues to survive, never mind become profitable, thirving attractions.

As things stand, it is only in very rare situations that I do not drive into the city centre of an evening. The convenience of driving home in half an hour or so is always going to be preferable to trying to make that journey by any other form of transport unless the alternatives can be made suitably attractive. Maybe the long-touted south Wales metro idea might help, but that will require careful planing on timetables to ensure that there is enough capacity at the right times for people to leave a venue after a curfew at 11pm, to then get across town to whichever station is appropriate and to find there is still a reliable and prompt service running at that time of the evening.

I think very carefully about my spending, even though my financial circumstances are comfortable enough that I do not have to choose either\or between two bands I might want to see on two different dates. I do nevertheless consider very carefully my travel method and arrival times and I guarantee that the money lost to Cardiff’s economy when I park my car at 20.01 to avoid the evening city centre parking penalty is significantly less than the profit the rest of the city would stand to make if I parked at 18.30 or 19.00 and bought another drink and\or something to eat on the way into or at an event.

My next transport alternative, infrequently used, is to cycle into the city centre. The potential difficulty of finding myself on the Taff Trail with a puncture late in the evening is easily remedied by carrying enough tools and parts to get the bike moving again, just as I do on my commute. Given the rise of security concerns in recent years, and rightly so, door staff are not going to allow a bag of tools into a venue with me so where does that leave me? Using the car, inevitably.