New government proposals aim to liberalise live music laws in small venues

February 2010

Live events industry

New proposals are being put forward by the Government to relax its laws on licensing for live music in small venues. Live music performances for 100 people or less will no longer need to be licensed under plans announced on December 31 by licensing Minister Gerry SutcliffeUnder the proposals, an exemption from the Licensing Act 2003 for small live music events would make it easier for a wide range of venues to put on live music, and help musicians who want to play to a live audience. Mr Sutcliffe said that “Going to see a band, musician or singer is a very important part of many people’s lives and we’re keen to do what we can to support audiences and musicians” adding “an exemption for venues with 100 people or less would benefit many small venues, particularly unlicensed premises such as village halls and cafes, which may currently be put off by licensing requirements. Under current laws, anyone wanting to put on live music must have a premises licence, a club premises certificate or a temporary event notice (TEN), although there are some exceptions for incidental and background music recently highlighted in a Musicians Union campaign. The new exemption would ensure that all licensed premises such as pubs and clubs would be able to put on small scale live music, regardless of whether or not their existing licence included a provision for staging entertainment events and unlicensed premises such as cafes, restaurants, village halls and record shops would also be able to host events without the need for a licence. However, the planned changes include some limitations for small venues; the exemption applies only to performances held indoors between 8am and 11pm and that there will be a power to revoke the exemption for premises if there are problems with “noise, nuisance or disorder. Martin Rawlings from the British Beer and Pub Association said: “The BBPA welcomes any measures that can help pubs overcome existing barriers to putting on live music, helping aspiring and established musicians to reach audiences while at the same time boosting business, particularly during these difficult economic times”.   However, the proposals fall short of the recommendations of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which previously called for an exemption for events with capacities of 200 people or fewer.
CMS select committee chairman and Conservative MP John Whittingdale has said that the proposal “does not go far enough”. The proposals are now open for public consultation. The consultation document is available on the DCMS website and the public can respond to its contents until March 26, 2010.

Quite separately, the Second Reading of Lord Tim Clement-Jones’ private members bill for live music will be heard in the House of Commons on Friday 15th January. The Liberal Democrat peer introduced his Bill in June last year when the First Reading asked for a (conditional) licensing exemption for small venues of up to 200 persons capacity and the reintroduction of the two-in-a-bar rule, which provides for an exemption under the Licensing Act 2003 for any performance of unamplified music by one or two people. The peer also wants a total exemption for places such as hospitals and schools and is pushing ahead with his bill saying “My bill proposes that schools, hospitals, colleges and venues up to a capacity of 200 should not need a licence for a live music performance, and that the ‘two-in-a-bar’ exemption should be reinstated [where one or two performer gigs in pubs don’t need a licence either]. Without these changes, we risk suffocating our live music scene in red tape. The government is out of tune with the live music scene, and has announced yet another long consultation. Supporting my Bill is the only chance to change the law before the general election”. Many believe there will be little time to complete Government legislation before the General Election and campaigners now hope the Government will now support Clement-Jones’ private Bill. and and

No Comments

Comments are closed.