This is the second in a new Citylifers feature looking at the people responsible for your favourite music club nights. Here we take a look at the generous folk behind music IS free, a revolutionary night that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Let’s put a face to a name, who is behind music IS free?
There are four of us at the moment. Dave Baguley, the guy that came up with the idea; Alex Ryan, who runs most of the nights; John Medland, sound guy; and James Richardson, illustrator.
Dave, Alex and James have known each other since college. They all went to Ridge Danyers Marple together in Stockport. Alex met John at Manchester University. We’re all aged between 23 and 25.
We all do everything we do for the organisation for free. There are also people who help us with our promotion and encourage people to come along. A special mention should go to Simon Wright, Dan Payne, Joe Garnett, Ed Stephenson and Anais Neon.
What’s your history – when and how did you get into promoting live music?
James and Alex had previously organised some nights in Stockport under the guise of Moorhen Records. But last June Dave put on a gig under the name of music IS free, where Alex’s new band played. Alex really liked the idea of music IS free and wanted to get involved. He started helping out pretty much straight away, sorting out three more venues that wanted to work with us and took on the massive role of running most of the music IS free nights, with John providing all of the technical knowhow.
Now, with the nights doing really well and some positive reviews, we’re re-branding the organisation and have plans to spread out to other cities across the UK. By the end of the year you’ll be able to find music IS free in a few more places, which will be an amazing accomplishment. John’s now based in Oxford, so expect a music IS free Oxford night to start pretty soon.
What’s the story behind music IS free?
We’ve all been playing music in and out of bands for a long time now and it can be really hard for unsigned bands to get off the ground. Many promoters (at least in Manchester) run their gigs through a ‘pay to play’ format. The band has to sell a certain number of tickets to play the gig and then the promoter takes a massive cut of the money, leaving the band to share a small amount amongst themselves. These kind of gigs don’t really help bands, they just give a load of money to a promoter who doesn’t seem to be doing that much work in the first place. We were sick of this and wanted to do something that would actually help bands, and also help people at the same time. music IS free was born.
The music scene has turned into a massive money making shambles resulting in many amazing bands and talented musicians becoming lost and never heard. We are taking away the idea of making a profit from musicians and giving them what they really want; a fan base, and possibly a couple of free beers.
Who are the pick of the bands you have put on so far?
Dave: The Plague Doctors, Crane and Atlas.
Alex: Rookie/Error, The Dissociates and Yves.
John: Alt Track, Bastard Fish and Ian Adamson.
Any top tips of bands you think our readers should check out?
All the ones we just mentioned, plus bands like Karben Kurjo, The New Estate, War Horse Descent, Arficeden and Alchemy, all of whom help out with putting on free gigs, both with music IS free and on their own.
What’s the most memorable night you have put on?
I really enjoyed the Winter Special at the Bakers in Stockport. War Horse Descent did a DJ set, there were a ton of free cakes, loads of good people and everyone was a little bit too merry. Truly great night, particularly Karben Kurjo playing pass the parcel.
If you could arrange your dream gig, who would play at it (alive or dead)?
Barbra Streisand, Seal and The Cheeky Girls. Maybe sneak in a little piece from John Lennon, for good measure. Maybe he’d do a little talk for us?
Who, out of all the unsigned bands gigging at the moment, would you love to play at your night?
Any bands that wants to play, that loves what they do. Anyone who feels the current music scene supports profiteers rather than bands. And anyone that’s up for chatting to new people whilst eating some cakes…
Who’s playing at your next gig and when is it?
The next gig is at the Baker’s Vault in Stockport this Wednesday, June 9.
The bill includes Phre The Eon, Baby Godzilla and Bastard Fish. There will be loads of free cake and entry is free, as per usual.