The tour director of rock band Muse is set to open a new music venue in the Capital that aims to provide a leg-up to bands starting out in the industry.
Glen Rowe has decided to hang up his backstage pass after 25 years on the road to focus on new charity Niko Trust, which will launch a network of five small venues across the UK, with the first to open in 2020.
Responding to what he sees as a “crisis” in the rock industry, Mr Rowe set up the charity in a bid to support live entertainment. He told Music Week magazine that while business continues to boom for established artists, things are ailing for those trying to break into the big time.
He said: “I worry about who is going to headline Reading Festival in five years’ time because I don’t see enough young bands coming through the pipeline, so I’ve got to do this. It’s time for me to give something back.”
The Neko Trust has its sights set on Edinburgh, London, Birmingham, Cardiff and Leeds as the sites of the new venues. The opening of the first will tie in with Independent Venue Week in 2020.
The new endeavour builds on Mr Rowe’s previous charitable efforts with the Cato Trust, which provided education and training to young people who wanted to break into the music business, and the Cato Academy for tour and production managers.
Mr Rowe has worked with indie rock band Muse since 1993 and toured the globe with them as they climbed to stratospheric heights. But, he asks, where would they, and others like them, be without those small venues that hosted their gigs when they were unknowns and hungry for fame?
He said: “It’s a massive crisis. Talking to young artists, I keep hearing how bad it is. Where would Coldplay be without the Bull & Gate, where would Muse be without the Cavern Club?”
The launch of the Niko Trust has already caught the interest of music industry big-hitters, the government and the Mayor of London, all of whom Mr Rowe has had meetings with.
He hopes his new charity will clear the “bottleneck” that threatens the future of live music and provides a lifeline to small venues struggling to stay afloat.
He said: “There can be a new dawn and we need to make sure we’re pushing it”.