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UK Live Music Census shows pressure on venues

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

By IQ on 16 Feb 2018

Associations are concerned that the high cost of energy bills could now close venues forever

image © jxffsmxth

Rising tax rates and restrictive noise regulations are hurting Britain’s venues, particularly at grassroots level, the first UK Live Music Census has found.

The census shows that small venues are facing a number of threats that could affect their long-term future, especially in the form of rising business rates and stringent noise restrictions, say researchers – who hope their findings will help to “inform debates about the future of the live music industry” in the UK.

Researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh and Newcastle, and Turku in Finland, carried out the census in March 2017 in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle/Gateshead, Oxford and Southampton, tracking performances, from club shows to arena concerts, in cities across the country. The research combines data collected over a 24-hour period with data from nationwide online surveys.

“This report not only shows the cultural and economic value of live music, but also the challenges it faces”

The study also provides further evidence that people spend more money on live events than on recorded music, with nearly half of the 4,400 surveyed spending more than £20 on concert or festival tickets each month (only a quarter spend the same on recorded music).

“Festival and concert attendance continue to grow. This report not only shows the cultural and economic value of live music, but also the challenges it faces,” says Dr Matt Brennan of the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music.

“This survey is the largest of its kind in the UK. We hope it can influence the valuable contribution live music makes to wider society and help support the protection of the live music ecology.”

The UK Live Music Census can be read in full at


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