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Stronger together

Live DMA now covers 17 live music associations in 13 countries, representing more than 2,500 music venues and festivals. Based on exchange of experience and best practice, the network is an arena for members to meet and derive support from each other in order to share a vision of the music sector, and to affirm their social and cultural role in society. This collaborative network enables members to utilise our activities, highlighting their own experience and best practices, building skills and participating in Live DMA’s strategic decisions. They also meet informally to create new collaborations, separate from Live DMA’s co-ordination. This assures us that Live DMA, as an international co-operation project, is successful.

One of Live DMA’s primary achievements was the 2012 implementation of the Survey, which enabled members to share data about music venues’ activities, employment and finances. This essential project supports to define us; as the members own the production of data, we have built a relationship of trust with them. Live DMA provides a survey co-ordinator who helps each referent by gathering data and presenting the results all around Europe.

From 2013 to 2015, during the network’s Musication and Lighthouses projects, bookers, managers and communication officers asked how they could engage audiences; connect music and education; build a qualitative programme; and develop new business models. In 2016 and 2017, Live DMA co-organised the International Congress for Concert Venues with its members ACCES and ASACC during Primavera Pro in Barcelona. Among the topics discussed were city development, nightlife, relationships with neighbours, youth audiences, sound-level regulation, sustainable development, and amateur status. Live DMA was then able to identify and present the main challenges for the live music sector in Europe.

In June 2017, the Creative Europe programme officially recognised Live DMA as a network and granted it development funding. Under the heading Live Style Europe (LSE), we aim to empower music venues and festivals to adapt more easily to the evolution of the live music sector.

Our first working group session, on music venues’ value to local authorities, took place in Berlin during the nightlife conference Stadt Nach Acht, and the second session on audience engagement took place place in Rennes, France, during the Rencontres Transmusicales festival in December.

In 2018, Live DMA will launch an online resource platform, including a pool of expertise and a blog of best practices

To reduce gaps and fragmentation, LSE provides equal resources and tools for the live sector to develop in terms of regulation and legislation. In 2018, Live DMA will launch an online resource platform, including a pool of expertise and a blog of best practices.

In several European countries, especially in eastern and southern Europe, music venues and festivals have no support associations. LSE aims to structure the live music sector in these countries with the expertise of other Live DMA members.

Finally, Live DMA is proud to present the first European edition of Open Club Day. On 3 February, 2018, live music venues all over Europe opened their doors to an audience that might not be familiar with live music activities. Open Club Day aims to demonstrate to people living in the vicinity of a venue, and policy makers, the reality of the work involved in running a live music venue. By highlighting the daily activities undertaken by music venues, Open Club Day offers the right circumstances for a constructive exchange that can help to clear up negative stereotypes that are so often cultivated around music venues and nightlife. The activities undertaken by live music venues go way beyond live music programming. Just 17% of Live DMA member venues exclusively devote their activities to live music programming; 56% also engage in social and educational activities; and 47% provide equipment and rehearsal space for musicians. The live music sector contributes significantly to society by giving everybody the opportunity to take part in a collective adventure. In 2015, over 81,000 people shared their passion for music by their voluntary engagement in music venues. By joining forces, co-operative projects such as Open Club Day can have a real impact on the recognition of music venues as significant contributors to culture.

According to Isabelle von Walterskirchen, co-president of Live DMA, “Getting… insight into the complexity of providing live music in a grassroots venue is truly surprising to the outsider. Feeling the professionalism and passion of the crew is highly touching. Opening the venue to parents, neighbours, and nightlife critics helps change prejudicial thinking into a relationship of respect and trust. It supports the realisation of the cultural, social and economical value of live music venues.”


Audrey Guerre is head of coordination for Live DMA.