the libertines hotel: paving the way for the creative community

entrepreneurship does not begin & end with the music

When Rishi Sunak recently seemed to suggest the British artistic community should try and find other jobs, he was understandably met with great anger and defiance. Little did he know, The Libertines were already one step ahead of the game.

Making money within the Arts sector was already notoriously hard before the pandemic. But now, like many industries, music has been decimated by Covid-19. The Libertines however, ever one of the more entrepreneurial bands – in the early 2000s, short of cash, they would use the internet to advertise ‘guerrilla gigs’ inside their own flat – were prepared to try their hand as hoteliers with the Albion Rooms.

Well, the original plan came around long before the pandemic. Co-founder of the band, Carl Barat’s initial idea was to make some kind of Margate-based ‘Warholian Factory’. And while they somewhat deviated away from that first fantasy, as well as opening up the hotel, they have included a studio for themselves and other artists to record in, plus an art gallery, bar, coffee house, and kitchen all open to the public.

With the pandemic putting an end to most gigs, and the likes of Spotify making album sales a less significant part of band’s earnings, more musicians may end up having to get creative if they want to survive this harsh era. It might seem like an odd idea, but bands and artists have had alternative business ventures (to varying levels of success) for years now. 50 Cent has his Vitamin Water business, and Marky Ramone even once created his own pasta sauce – emphasis on the ‘varying levels of success’ here.

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A cynic may say The Libertines are just trying to squeeze more money out of fans, but the Albion Rooms was not set up purely as a money-making business. It was put together to allow the nomadic members of the band a base, a meeting place, to come home to, live in, and produce music from. Barat and drummer Gary Powell may be based in the UK, but Peter Doherty spends much of his time in France, and bassist John Hassall lives in Denmark.

The Libertines were always good a creating a sense of community with their fans, making it seem as though the line between crowd and stage was one to be stumbled across. So it feels oddly on brand that The Libertines would open a hotel and end up occasionally pulling pints at their bar, The Waste Land – named after T.S. Eliot’s famous poem (which was written in Margate).

Creativity meeting capitalism sounds far from a pretty thing, but in reality, that’s always been a necessary evil within the industry. But with the hotel, The Libertines may have inadvertently paved the way for other artists by generating a second source of income while retaining a creative hub and outlet.

Will we see other bands follow this lead? Perhaps Arctic Monkeys will open up a tearoom in Sheffield, or Wolf Alice might launch a vintage clothes shop in Camden. The future is uncertain, the times are unprecedented, anything could happen.

MACKAYAN: libertines hotel