“This is my last chance” – Manchester’s unsigned musicians on breaking through.

WITH the closure of live music venues such as Sound control and Roadhouse in recent years, unsigned artists are struggling now more than ever to get discovered.

This week, music venue Antwerp Mansion have announced their impending closure, which causes an issue for new up and coming talent in Manchester, as it means that there are, yet again, less places for them to play.

However, Manchester holds a stellar reputation for bringing out iconic artists, with the likes of The Smiths, Elbow, and The Stone Roses to name a few that hail from the city.

Still holding a number of performance spaces willing to be a platform for those without record labels, Manchester’s unsigned scene has become one of the most respected in the country, as competition has brought out the best in a number of bands.

Cameron Meekums-Spence plays guitar in the Mossley based band Freeda.

He said:, ‘We’ve been at it for about a year now, so I suppose there is still time but the thing is with us, we don’t have a manager, we don’t have a record label or anyone like that to take the load off us either were spending most of our time outside of work trying to promote the band, putting a lot of effort in.

‘When you start off gigging you’re making a loss really aren’t you, for god knows how long, until you hit that break really. When you hit it, then the money starts coming in I guess but we’re still some way to getting to that point.

‘In the past when I’ve been with bands I’ve always loved it but never really known how to go about it. This for me is giving it a proper go.

‘I’m in my early twenties, I’d say this is my last chance. I work in a call centre, which is a little bit mundane but it gives me my weekends, so I can do the gigs and whatever else comes to us which I would have been able to do otherwise.’

Alex Walker, presenter of ‘Flip the disk’ on Forge Radio, is a former member of Manchester band Wilson.

He said: ‘It’s a saturated market, for every great band there’s about fifty decent bands that have fallen by the wayside.

‘It’s hard to try and stick out amongst the crowd and to get exposure and get people down to your gigs, especially with the decline in gig venues which is not exactly helping.

‘I think because there are so many great bands from Manchester it can be a blessing and a curse – if you’re a band from Liverpool you’ll be compared to The Beatles, its not like that here, but it is so hard.’

Freeda’s debut single is out now.

Manchester music venue Antwerp Mansion launches petition to be saved, after receiving marching orders from City Council

ANOTHER Manchester music venue is set to place on the ever-growing list of iconic venues that have closed in recent years.

Doomed nightclub Antwerp Mansion, in Rusholme have had a petition launched on change.org in attempt to stop the closure, after Manchester City Council Planning Department ordered it shutting down for good.

If the petition were to be successful, it would mean that the venue could stay open longer than it’s planned wrap up for next month.

News of the closure was confirmed in a statement posted to the nightclub’s official facebook page on monday.

It said: “Antwerp Mansion will be forced to close next month on the orders of Manchester City Council Planning Department. Unlike the scenarios we have recently seen in the media with clubs such as Fabric & the Rainbow venues, there has been no single incident that has led to this closure and our premises license remains fully intact.

“In September of last year Antwerp Mansion was served with an enforcement notice, after Manchester City Council (MCC) were informed of unclear planning permissions that dated back to the 1920’s.

“The Council’s view was that Antwerp Mansion only had permission to operate as a private member’s club, not as a nightclub despite the fact that it had successfully been run as one for approximately 7 years.

“We had no warning of this and no one from the Council made any attempt to speak to us. MCC served an enforcement notice in the summer (a period in which we are closed) that Antwerp Mansion must revert back to this use within 28 days with a closing time of 11pm.

“Antwerp Mansion had the right to appeal this notice, which then triggered a legal battle that we have been fighting for the past 7 months. We did not make public the threat of closure or this enforcement notice during the appeal process.”

 

Councillor Angeliki Stogia, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Skills responded to the closure, as well as the statement made by the venue.

She said: “This will be good news for local residents who have put up with significant noise, violence and other anti-social behaviour brought to their neighbourhood because of the Antwerp Mansion venue.

“We want to encourage business in Manchester and we welcome multi-use and diverse venues in our neighbourhoods, but there has to be a balance so it works with the community, not against it. It is important that anyone opening a venue does contact the Council immediately to get planning advice before they open.
“Any suggestion by the club that this decision is about anything other than the fact that they were not operating appropriately is simply untrue.  Our decision has been scrutinised and upheld by an independent planning inspector appointed by the Government, who rejected Antwerp Mansion’s appeal.”
The Petition has so far gained over 14000 signatures, after just four days of being posted. They aim to reach 15000.

“If they’ve got great songs and refuse to give up they’ll make it. I believe that.” – Says Musicians about unsigned artists

ESTABLISHED musicians from Britain have been commenting on the unsigned music scene.

In the UK, acts from all genres have to make their way as unsigned artists, before finding a fan base and eventually signing to a record label that can provide them with the resources to help them succeed in the industry.

The road to the record label is known as being incredibly difficult, as competition from other performers and issues with funding can get in the way of success, leading to band break ups, as members go in search for steady work.

Former Kaiser Chiefs drummer, Nick Hodgson released his debut album ‘Tell Your Friends’ independently on his own label.

He said: “Doing things independently is total freedom for me. I love being able to make instant decisions about things without having to go through a dozen people.

“It’s a lot of hard work though. For unsigned bands it’s always been hard but now is a particularly tricky time to get signed.

“If they’ve got great songs and refuse to give up they’ll make it. I believe that.”

Folk musician, John Smith has been successfully recording albums on his own for years, as he opts to remain unsigned.

He Said: “I think the music industry has changed a lot. I’ve been a professional musician for twelve years and it’s changed a lot in that time. There’s so many more people who have access to an audience.

“Now, any numpty with a guitar can make a record and put it out there. Some of it is frighteningly good, but some of it is terrible, so the competition is so much bigger and so much more diverse.

“People send me stuff and it sounds amazing and these people would never have had a platform a few years ago, but making it in any arts industry is never going to be easy.”

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