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UK Live Music Census shows pressure on venues

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 uklivemusiccensus.org/#report.

 


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UK-wide Live Music Census launched

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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