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  • Chris Olson

An acoustic singer in London, UK

Much like a starlet heading to Hollywood, for many Acoustic Singers in the UK we see London as a holy land of opportunity. Where record deals are as plentiful as coffee shops, and hordes of eager crowds are simply clutching the handrails waiting for someone like you to perform so they can be your new mega fans.

The reality is not only far less glamorous than this, it can actually be hugely depressing. Playing gigs in London involves signing up for shows run by "promoters", whose sole occupation is to try and charge £5 to get into a gig that no one but the bands are attending.

acoustic singer uk

Seriously, I've done a few of these shows where you are lucky if they have a mic you can use let alone expect any kind of payment for your musical skills. At one such gig in a London venue, one of the other bands who were playing asked the promoter if there was at least a free drink in it for them. To which the sullen bloke in his late forties with a greasy appearance replied, "You'll be lucky".

Luck certainly wasn't with this particular acoustic singer that night. I was first on the bill, with no one but my long-suffering girlfriend (now wife) in the audience. Even the other bands buggered off upstairs to a different bar whilst I played my set (not good musician etiquette by the way).

So whilst I played my humble set of original acoustic songs in one of the world's most culturally diverse and important cities on the planet, I did so to a near-empty room. From the stage I could see the organiser sat just outside the basement bar where I was playing, manning the door. On a couple of occasions some stragglers came downstairs, either lured by my sweet tunes, or more likely the possibility of better seating than the bar upstairs could afford, but would swiftly return from whence they came when faced with the prospect of paying £5 for the pleasure.

This irked me no end. Not only was I playing to an empty room where not even the bands could be arsed to hang around and I had to buy my own beer (at LONDON PRICES), but the small glimmer of hope in the form of some new listeners was denied me because of the way these acoustic shows in London work.

The only thing that salvaged the night was my wife filming some of my performances, sharply cutting the ends where the "mass applause" should have been, and getting an anecdote of playing a romantic gig of 1 in the UK's capital.

Check out the video below of said show, where I first performed my original song "Not Tonight".


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