Sound Lounge owners Hannah White and Keiron Marshall. Pic: Hannah White
By Faramade Olaitan and Alice Chapman
The founders of a grassroots South London music venue have raised £35,000 in just 22 hours to prevent the closure of their business.
After starting a Crowdfunder, the Sound Lounge’ owners Keiron Marshall, and his wife Hannah White, had initially thought it would take at least six weeks to raise the funds they needed to cover bills from energy providers and stock suppliers.
The Sound Lounge is a grassroots live music venue which has been running for 12 years, with a strong focus on bringing the community together and ‘ensuring people from low-income backgrounds can access and experience the benefits that live music brings.’
White told East London Lines that when she first set up the Crowdfunder page she had to turn her phone off saying to her husband ‘I don’t think we should do this, I feel sick, we are asking for way too much money’.
When she finally checked her phone in the morning, they had already raised 70% of the funds they needed. ‘I was just crying, euphoric at the same time, and utterly shocked, ’ she said.
Pleased with their success from raising £35,000, White and Marshall now have plans to turn their business into a charity, continue helping their local community, and supporting grassroots artists.
In order to convert to a charity, the couple have extended their crowdfunding goal, adding an additional £10,000.
White explains how hard it is, not only for them, but for many grassroots organisations to keep the business afloat simply by relying on customer funding.
By registering as a charity, The Sound Lounge will have access to grants that will enable them to continue their community work with more financial stability.
White has made it clear to us that these financial issues within the grassroots music sector is not just an issue in London but in fact a ‘national problem’.
‘Grassroots organisations are essential for finding talent, and without them, no one would be able to make it to the top.’
According to culture magazine Rolling Stone ‘Of the estimated 366 grassroots venues Ed Sheeran played before making it big, 150 have closed.’
White says ‘There’s nothing that gets reinvested into the grassroots, and it’s a big problem in so many ways, I just feel so strongly that it shouldn’t be down to people who just care about their local venue to keep it going, there needs to be reinvestment from major labels’.
As well as becoming the first music venue in the UK to achieve a carbon neutral certification, over the past two years The Sound Lounge has made 515 free ‘friendship coffees’ for those suffering from social isolation, given their venue at zero cost to 94 different charity events, made 123 hot meals for those living under food insecurity and managed to invest £28,320 into their #ArtForAll programme ensuring people from low-income backgrounds have access to live music.