After another venue closure, Edinburgh’s music scene is in dire straits
Closure of venue Electric Circus marks further setback to Edinburgh’s struggling scene
Choosing which university to go to can be an incredibly difficult decision. The number of things that can influence your decision can be overwhelming as each of us want different things from our university, be it academically, socially or culturally. When deciding where I would be best suited, there was one condition that I couldn’t compromise on – I had to be in a city. Having grown up in London, one of the busiest cities in the world, the prospect of unpolluted air and quietness sent shivers down my spine. As a result, Edinburgh seemed perfect to me.
On arrival, I was slightly thrown by the abundance of greenery and hills in a capital city, but as I made it my home I found that it ticked all the boxes. Pret a Manger? Tick. Innumerable Tesco/Sainsbury’s? Tick. Uber? Tick. However, I was greatly disappointed that one box remained un-ticked. In a capital city with such a large student presence, and home of the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I was surprised at how sparse Edinburgh’s music scene was.
The digitalisation of music has led to a society where music has become almost fundamental. For example, going to the gym or simply walking to lectures without music for some now seems impossible and perhaps even torturous. The type of music you listen to is nearly a status symbol and music is now more diverse than ever. As such, it makes no sense to me that Edinburgh would fail to take advantage of this.
This article was inspired by the closure of another small Edinburgh venue, Electric Circus. The venue has hosted a variety of local and touring artists, and it has played an important role in supporting the Edinburgh music scene. One of the factors opposing the live music ecology was the inaudibility clause. This clause gave a single complaint the potential to restrict, and even prohibit, certain live music events. An example of this was the cancellation of events at The Phoenix Bar due to a complaint. This clause presupposed the audibility of live music to be a nuisance, hindering the development of both the artist and audience. Late last year this clause was revised after much campaigning. Although this marked a huge step in the right direction, a lot of damage had already been done and there is still a long way to go.
Another problem with Edinburgh is that, as it has a wealth of high arts such as theatre and painting, the low arts are overshadowed and overlooked. There aren’t many large venues and nearby Glasgow is much better suited for touring performers. Subsequently, young artists are deterred by the city, and those that are successful move away to more thriving scenes. In its wake, this leaves the music scene we are all now familiar with. However, despite the lack of its prominence, the quality of the music scene should not be snubbed. The talent found in Edinburgh is, as a result, eccentric and unique, and being driven by hard working and dedicated musicians.
In a city so worldly renowned for its culture, it would be a crime to let such an important art as music slip through the cracks. As students, we have so much both to offer and to take advantage of. Individually, we can all help to support the music scene simply by attending, or for those more musically apt among us perhaps even by joining in. We may think we already know what music we like, but in a music ecology as unique as Edinburgh’s, we might not realise how much more we can learn.