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.
Venues, promoters wanted for UK Live Music Census
British promoters and venues have until the end of May to take part in the inaugural UK Live Music Census, the first national music census in the world.
Commissioned by Live Music Exchange, the research project led by academics from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, and backed by UK Music, Music Venue Trust and the Musicians’ Union, the census aims to build a “complete picture of live music activity around the country” by surveying both artists and audiences, and those who make the shows happen behind the scenes.
Sample questions for the latter group of surveyees include: “Do you think that you will be promoting more or fewer live music events three years from now, and why?”, “What do you think are the main contributions that live music makes to your local area?” and “What could the government (local, national and/or UK) do, if anything, to improve the live music scene?”.
“The much-needed data collected by UK Live Music Census will help us protect live music going into the future”
“We know that live music is an immense economic and cultural asset, driving everything from tourism to civic pride, and that live music also has huge cultural and social value, whether it be a place for spending time with friends and family or even to improve health and well-being,” explains a spokesperson for the UK Live Music Census team. “However, at present, still not enough is known about it, and much of what we do know is anecdotal rather than presented in the ‘numbers and narratives’ manner to which politicians and other key decision-makers respond.
“This, then, is one of the drivers behind the UK Live Music Census, the world’s first national music census; a Springwatch for live music, if you will. As Lord Clement Jones, a driving force behind changes to live music legislation in the UK, notes: ‘Data about the sector has so far been relatively scarce and mostly anecdotal, and so the much-needed data collected by UK Live Music Census will help us protect live music going into the future.'”
There are separate surveys for venues and promoters, both open until 31 May (and if the the incentive to help safeguard the future of the industry isn’t enough, one respondent will win an iPad!). Find both at uklivemusiccensus.org.