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Review of 2014: Part 6 – Live music in the toilet (… not what you think)

Acquisitions, athletics, AVB and Atmos… we reflect on the year that was

The sad state of Britain’s small music venues, or ‘toilet circuit’, was once again thrust into the spotlight in 2014 with the formation of the Music Venue Trust and its endorsement by chart-topping singer-songwriter Frank Turner (pictured).

Turner’s petition, which has attracted close to 30,000 signatures, urges British culture secretary Sajid Javid to adopt the ‘agent-of-change principle’ – meaning that the person or business responsible for any change in the area surrounding a music venue must take responsibility for managing the impact – to protect the UK’s live music venues from closure. At press time, the Music Venue Trust had also recently announced the timetable for Venues Day, which on 9 December brings 250 delegates together to “celebrate the work of independent live music venues”.

Among the venues believed to be under threat are the Night and Day Café in Manchester and The Fleece in Bristol. The Boileroom in Guildford was saved from closure in September after the local council dismissed resident complaints about “antisocial behaviour”, pointing to a lack of evidence linking the claims to the venue. Here’s hoping for some decisive action from Mr Javid – or his successor – next year.

September saw the return of a bigger, better Pro Sound Awards following 2013’s inaugural event.

New for this year was The Pre-Roll, two sessions of talk and Q&A ahead of the main event. Up first was the Producer Sessions, which saw former PSNEurope editor Phil Ward do a Parky as he welcomed Monty Python’s go-to soundtrack man Andre Jacquemin, Depeche Mode collaborator Ben Hillier and Smiths, Morrissey and Blur producer Stephen Street to the stage for an incredible line-up of studio talent.

Next on the agenda was the Live Sound Sessions, which featured Dave Swallow (Amy Winehouse, La Roux), Jon Burton (The Prodigy, Stereophonics), Matt Kanaris (Lana Del Rey, Goldfrapp) and Charles “Chicky” Reeves (Grace Jones, Prince) trading tales of life on the road.

This year’s winners included double winner Sound by Design, recipient of both the Permanent Installation Project of the Year and Installed Audio Team of the Year awards; Capital Sound, recognised for its contribution to the groundbreaking 2013 British Summer Time concert at Hyde Park; and Andrew Dudman, who recorded the Oscar-winning score for Gravity – also a winner in the Best Sound in Post-Production category – at Abbey Road.

Paloma Faith’s A Perfect Contradiction won Best Recording Production, while Metropolis completed the list of winners in the studio category, taking home the prize for Best Studio.