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Amsterdam noise law under fire as ‘fans louder than bands’

Dutch booker Wim Franke has compared the city's controversial new 85-decibel sound cap to "asking motorists to drive at 50kph on motorways"

By Jon Chapple on 23 Aug 2017

Sneekweek 2016

Crowds in Sneek for Sneekweek

image © Sneekweek/Inzet Online

A Dutch booking agent has harshly criticised Amsterdam’s new noise regulations, saying the 85dB volume limit on concerts or festivals near residential areas could threaten the city’s live music scene by deterring people from putting on shows.

In a Facebook post shared by EventBranche.nl, Wim Franke, owner of agency/event planner World of Bookings, compares the recently introduced noise cap to “asking motorists to drive at a maximum of 50kph on motorways” and says it may lead to live music events “disappearing from our streets”.

Framke was responding to an article by local news site GrootSneek, which reported that artists performing at the SneekWeek festival in Sneek – where the volume was also capped at 85dB – earlier this month were drowned out by the noise of the crowd, with visitor numbers suffering as a result. “When the sound produced by the crowd drowns out the band’s music, something is not right,” writes editor Wim Walda.

The new sound ordinance – incorrectly reported in some publications as being introduced this month – was passed by Amsterdam City Council in July, and allows for three “sound-intensive” days of music per year, such as large outdoor festivals, when the noise cap is lifted. An exception is also made for a number of city-centre spots, including the Zuidas financial district, the Museumplein and the N1 festival park in Westpoort.

“When the sound produced by the crowd drowns out the band’s music, something is not right”

It also bans ‘flown’ subwoofers, which Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad reports will make it difficult to stage concerts featuring genres “that tend to have heavy bass, such as hardcore techno or reggae”.

Despite this, a spokesperson for the city council says it does not expect the lower noise limit to negatively affect the number of concerts held in Amsterdam.

Although Amsterdam is the first Dutch city to pass such a stringent noise ordinance, the Netherlands has led the way in promoting measures to combat hearing damage, especially in the young: Promoters’ association VNPF is a signatory to the Music Industry Covenant to Prevent Hearing Damage and one town is going to so far as to hand out free earplugs to all 16-year-olds to protect against hearing damage “when visiting concerts and festivals”.

According to the Dutch National Hearing Foundation, a third of under-30s have left a festival after not being able to stand the volume.


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