LICENSING
Live events industry

The UK music has welcomed plans to cut live music bureaucracy and in a bid to help new talent and promote economic growth, the UK Government has launched (another) consultation seeking to deregulate entertainment licensing in the UK. At present, under terms of the Licensing Act 2003, any venue or event looking to promote live music, no matter how small, must apply for permission from their local authority.

Reports from the Government-commissioned Live Music Forum (2007) and the Culture, Media & Sport select committee (2009) both concluded that such an approach has proved detrimental to grass roots live music. When Government last consulted on the issue, in early 2010, 74% of respondents who expressed an opinion said that they favoured an exemption for small venues. This was followed by a Private Members Bill, instigated by Lord Tim Clement-Jones, and seeking to exempt venues under a 200 capacity, which is currently awaiting the report stage in the House of Lords. In March 2011, this Bill gained support across the political spectrum.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music said: “Earlier this year, UK Music highlighted how large-scale live music attracts £1.4bn of tourism to the UK. However, the success of our festivals and arenas – indeed, the success of our entire industry – is reliant upon a vibrant grass roots music scene. This is where raw talent emerges. Nominees at last Tuesday’s Mercury Music Prize all began their careers playing in the back rooms of pubs and clubs. This is a world away from the purpose of the Licensing Act, which is to prevent crime and disorder and to protect vulnerable people from harm. The police should always have the ability to intervene in events where there is a legitimate concern on these grounds, but there is absolutely no evidence that live music encourages crime or disorder.  Quite the opposite, in fact. For the UK, music is a unique asset. We are therefore delighted that Government has adopted such a forward-thinking approach. Enabling live music to flourish has potential to drive social cohesion, entrepreneurialism and economic growth. While continuing to support Lord Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill, UK Music warmly welcomes this consultation and all other measures that would remove red tape for the benefit of musicians and creative talent.”

John Smith, General Secretary for the Musicians’ Union said: “We welcome this consultation and the Government’s intention to cut red tape for live music. At the very least, we hope that the result will be to implement an exemption for small venues putting on live music with fewer than 200 people in attendance, which we have been lobbying for many years now. We therefore also support the proposals outlined in Lord Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill, which state that an exemption to the Licensing Act should take place when ‘the live music entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons’.”

Paul Latham, COO International Music at Live Nation Entertainment and UK Live Music Group chair said: “Live music provides a huge boost to the UK’s economy and is a significant part of this country’s social fabric. To ensure future success it is vital that we sustain a healthy grass roots scene, where musicians and artists from every region have the widest possible opportunity to build a career. It is pleasing that Government recognises this fact and we look forward to engaging with this consultation in the weeks ahead.”