While concert attendance continues to grow, UK grassroots venues are struggling with rising business rates and noise restrictions, reveals the first-of-its-kind census
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Researchers will look at gigs in seven cities and share a toolkit that other institutions can use to conduct parallel studies country-wide
By IQ on 12 Jan 2017
A census to measure live music activity across the UK has launched to discover the challenges faced by venues, promoters and musicians.
The initiative is a joint project between the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, run by members of the Live Music Exchange, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in partnership with the Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust, and UK Music.
Researchers will look at gigs in seven cities and share a toolkit that other institutions can use to conduct parallel studies country-wide. A snapshot census will take place from noon on Thursday March 9 to noon on Friday March 10. A nationwide online survey will be open from 9 March to 8 May and people are being urged to take part.
It follows on from similar projects undertaken in select cities such as the Bristol Live Music Census Report, which revealed that live music generated £123m of revenue towards the local economy, and a report commissioned by advocacy group Austin Music People (AMP) to measure the live music business in Austin, Texas.
Discussing the inspiration behind the project, Matt Brennan and the UK Live Music team of Adam Behr, Martin Cloonan, and Emma Webster, said: “In a bid to make the case for live music, there have been numerous reports assessing its value produced by industry organisations, policy bodies and the third sector. Nevertheless, there is still a knowledge gap about the specific relationship between the value of live music on the one hand and current challenges facing venues across the UK on the other.
“Accounts of live music activity vary according to where they have been produced and according to which type of policy, industry or academic research has provided them. They often conflate live music with other performance activities or musical sources of revenue.”
“Accounts of live music activity vary according to where they have been produced and according to which type of policy, industry or academic research has provided them. They often conflate live music with other performance activities (like theatre) or musical sources of revenue (like recording or publishing).
“This variation can make it difficult to make meaningful comparisons across cities, and between different types of music. It also means that the full range of settings in which live music takes place is not always properly captured by work which has a specific industry or policy focus.”
The census aims to find out the state of live music economically, socially and culturally across cities in the UK and how data from a live music census can be used by policymakers in business and government to ensure a thriving music ecology at all levels.
Research will also centre on the ongoing challenges that artists, entrepreneurs, venues and policymakers face in creating a rich and diverse live music culture, and the tools academics can develop to mobilise industry and citizen interest in British musical culture in order to create a more detailed and dynamic account of the nation’s musical life.
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