the state of the live music scene in England and Wales have put on
live acts in the past twelve months, and a fifth regularly stage live
The first ever survey for the Live Music Forum, published today,
* almost half (47%) of pubs, clubs, student unions and
restaurants have put on live acts at least once in the past year;
* a fifth (19%) of the venues staged live music regularly -
at least twice a month;
* more than half (55%) of venues who put on music do it
because customers demand it; but
* many potential venues have not thought about putting on live music
despite the changes in the new licensing laws.
The survey, which interviewed licensees in around 1,600 small venues,
will help inform the work of the Live Music Forum. The forum, chaired
by 80s chart-topper Feargal Sharkey, brings together the music
industry, Arts Council, local authorities, small venue owners and
government to look at the current and future live music scene.
DCMS minister Richard Caborn said: 'From the Beatles to Blur we have
a live music heritage to be proud of. This survey shows that heritage
is alive and well with a flourishing music scene - an estimated 1.7
million gigs were staged in the past year alone in bars, clubs and
restaurants whose main business isn't putting on live music.
'The new Licensing laws will create more opportunities for budding
musicians, but the survey shows that there are many potential venues
who have not thought about putting on live bands. We need to
encourage them to do so and show them that the licensing changes will
make staging live music easier so that they are ready to embrace the
new law when it comes in next year.'
The forum is working with all those involved in live music to promote
live music and the opportunities offered by the new and improved
Licensing Act. They will also monitor and evaluate the Act's impact
on live music.
The forum's chairman, Feargal Sharkey, said: 'We have one of the most
vibrant music scenes in the world and live music is at the heart of
'I want to see more live music in this country, and with a major
overhaul of licensing laws just around the corner, we have the best
opportunity in a generation to achieve this. Our research indicates
live music plays a phenomenal part in people's lives - 47% of venues
know how important it is.
'A third of the people we spoke to who do not currently put on live
music said they probably would in the future. I want them, and anyone
with the space to put on a band or a live act, to think carefully and
remember the benefits in profits, to customers and to the next
generation of performers.'
Keith Ames, communications official of the Musician's Union, added:
'The survey confirms the importance of live music nationwide and the
vital role it plays in generating work for British musicians,
together with the creation of sales income for our leisure industry.
'We must, however, ensure that licensees, promoters and events
organisers are fully informed as to the opportunities available under
the new legislation and it appears there is a need for an
informative, communications process which advises licensees as to the
Act's requirements. We have designed our 'Music to your Ears'
initiative - aimed at existing and potential music venues - plus our
Live Music Kit with this need specifically in mind. We believe the
Kit, in particular, will prove a catalyst for the development of live
music at grass roots level.'
* The Live Music Forum was set up in January 2004. As well as working
with partners across the live music world to ensure they make the
most of the opportunities offered by the Act the Forum is also
looking at a range of ways to promote live music and foster grass
roots talent. At the end of its lifespan, the Forum will make
recommendations to government.
* The survey focused on those venues on which it was thought the new
licensing arrangements may have the biggest impact, and whose core
business (for most of them) is not staging live music. It did not
cover venues whose core business is putting on bands such as the
* The Licensing Act 2003 received Royal Assent on 10 July 2003. Its
reforms will come into effect in full in late 2005. Further details
can be found here.
* From 7 February people can apply to convert and vary existing
licences or apply for new ones under the Act. Under the new system
they should be able to apply to put on live music at no extra cost
and using just one licence.
* The Licensing Act will end the outdated 'two in a bar' rule -
which currently distorts opportunities for musicians to perform - and
replace it with a single licence combining alcohol and public
Live Music in England and Wales - Executive Summary
* Almost half of all venues (47%) have staged at least one live music
event in the last 12 months, with 19% staging six or more in the last
* Fifty-five per cent of licensees who do stage live music claim to
know at least a little about the new Licensing Act. A similar
proportion (49%) of licensees who do not stage live music also feel
they know at least a little about the Act.
* One third (33%) of those who do stage live music feel that that the
changes to the Licensing Act with regard to live music will have a
positive impact across their industry, while 45% think the changes
will make no difference.
* Among those licensees who do not have live music but know at least
a little about the Act, one in six claim that the changes in the
Licensing Act will encourage them to start doing so.
* Two-thirds (64%) of licensees who do currently stage live music and
know at least a little about the Act claim it will make no difference
to the number of events they put on. Seven per cent say that they
will put on more events while 11% say they will put on fewer.
* Three-quarters of licensees who do stage live music feel that they
have not been told enough about the possible impacts of the Licensing
* Local authorities and the trade press are the favoured sources of
information on the Licensing Act.
Almost half (47%) of all venues have staged at least one live music
event in the last 12 months. This varies quite considerably by venue
type as the chart below illustrates.
Recent Performances - Live Music
Q1 Has there been any live music played or performed in your venue
over the last 12 months?
All - 47%
Student Unions - 91%
Clubs and Associations - 70%
Church Halls / Community Centres - 68%
Pubs / Inns - 44%
Small Clubs - 42%
Hotels - 39%
Restaurants / Cafes - 28%
Base: All venues (1,577)
The number of live music events held varies considerably from venue
to venue. One in six of those venues that have staged live music have
only had one or two events, while more than one in four claim to have
had 41 events or more in the last 12 months. The majority of all
these venues have had at least one event in the last three months.
Overall, 19% of all venues have had at least six events in the last
three months. The chart below illustrates the wide distribution of
the number of events.
Number of Live Events
QY9A & QY9B How many separate live events, performances or sessions
have there been in in this venue..?
In the last 12 months / In the last 3 months
1 - 8% / 15%
2 - 6% / 8%
3 - 5% / 8%
4-5 - 9% / 7%
6-7 7% / 3%
8-10 - 6% / 6%
11-20 - 14% / 20%
21-31 7% / 5%
32-40 - 4% / 2%
None - 0% / 17%
Base: All venues that have staged live music in the last 12 months
Taking all venues into consideration (i.e. those that have and have
not staged live music in the last 12 months), on average in the last
12 months each venue has had 12 live music events, and in the last
three months, five events.
Venues in London are the least likely to have had a live music
performance in the last 12 months, compared with all other regions -
apart from the north-east. Only three in ten (31%) venues in London
have staged any live music, compared with 58% in the rest of the
south-east, 53% in East Anglia and 52% in the south-west. Wales
varies little from the average (42%).
Among those venues that have staged live music in the last 12 months,
over half (55%) say the reason for this is customer demand. Other
popular drivers are to increase custom and sales (34%) and profit
(20%). Around one in seven (14%) have had a live music event for a
special occasion or private function.
A wide variety of reasons are given as to why some venues do not have
any live music, with the most common being the size of the venue
(29%), lack of customer demand (26%) or lack of licensee interest
(14%), and live music not being suitable/appropriate for the venue
(12%). Specific licensing issues are mentioned less often as being a
barrier to staging live music, though one in fourteen (7%) do mention
the cost of the licence (ranking fifth on the list of reasons).
Marginally fewer (6%) mention one or other of the regulations
regarding live music.
The reasons given for stopping live music (by those who had an
event/performance longer than a year ago), are similar in many
respects (e.g. venue size and lack of interest). However, one in five
(21%) claim that live music stopped as it was proving too expensive
to justify, or was only put on for special occasions (25%).
Around a third of venues that do not currently have any live music
say that they 'definitely' (9%) or 'probably' (26%) will do so in the
future. However, the majority say that they will not, including 44%
who say 'definitely not'. It is worth noting those in hotels are most
likely to be of the opinion they will definitely not (62%).
Awareness of the Licensing Act
The exploratory qualitative research conducted with industry bodies,
experts and licensees of different venues suggested that the level of
knowledge of the Licensing Act in relation to live music was limited,
and this was borne out by the quantitative research.
Among venues that do not stage any live music only half (49%) claim
to know anything about the changes the Licensing Act will bring with
regard to live music (and only 19% in any detail), while 47% admit
that they know nothing at all about it. Knowledge among those who do
stage live music is not that much better; 55% claim to 'know at least
a little' (with 19% knowing at least a fair amount) - 43% know
nothing at all.
Those with at least some knowledge of the Act were asked what they
considered the key elements to be (in relation to live music). Less
than one half were able to highlight any. The elements most commonly
mentioned are that local authorities will be responsible for issuing
live music licences, and that the public entertainment and liquor
licences will be integrated. All other features are mentioned by one
in twenty or fewer.
On prompting, those who do stage live music appear to show a higher
level of awareness of some of the key features. Seventy per cent
claim to 'know at least a little' about local authorities being
responsible for issuing licences, while around half say they know
about the combined public entertainment and liquor licences or that
the licence fees will be set centrally. Less well known are that
licensees will be required to 'opt in' for staging live music at the
application stage, the two in a bar rule is to be abolished and that
the licence will cost the same regardless of whether or not live
music is put on.
Impact of the Licensing Act
Despite the limited knowledge of the Licensing Act among most
licensees (who stage live music) they have a reasonably positive view
of its likely impact. Overall, one-third (33%) of those who currently
stage live music feel it will havea 'positive' impact across their
industry, while 13% think it will be 'negative' - the remainder feel
it will make no difference/don't know (53%). The new Licensing Act is
viewed positively as it will allow more choice of entertainers and
bigger bands (10%), and make it easier to stage live music (9%).
Additionally there will be fewer restrictions (7%) and the licensee
will only have to apply for one licence (5%). In contrast, perceived
negative aspects of the Act include increased administration and
restrictions (5%) and higher costs (5%).
The most positive responses to some of the specific features tested
concern the public entertainment and liquor licences being combined
(59% positive vs. 10% negative), the cost of the licence being the
same regardless of whether live music is put on or not (54% positive
vs 14% negative) and the 2 in the bar rule being abolished (52%
positive vs 16% negative).
Only one in six of those who do not stage live music now intend to do
so once the new Act is implemented (including just 1% who claim to be
'certain to do so').
Licensees who stage live music do not expect there to be much change
in the amount of live music they provide, with 64% saying that it
will make 'no difference' to the number of live music events or
performances they will have in their venue. What is of concern,
though, is that a slightly larger proportion says there will be fewer
events or that they will stop altogether ( 11%), than say there will
be more events (7%). This picture does not change among those who are
better informed (9% claim they will have 'more events,' while 13%
will have 'fewer events/stop altogether').
Communicating the Licensing Act
It is clear that there is limited knowledge about the Act across the
different types of venue. It is, therefore, no great surprise that
three-quarters of licensees feel that they have not been told enough
about the possible impacts of the Licensing Act.
Licensees who stage live music and know at least a little about the
Act are most likely to have gained their knowledge from local
authorities (20%), the trade press generally (18%), specific trade
press articles (13%) or head office communications (16%).
The onus for supplying information about the Act is thought to lie
very much with local authorities. Indeed, over half feel that local
councils/authorities ought to be 'doing more' to explain the impacts
of the Act, followed by the DCMS/Central Government (mentioned by
22%). Local authorities are also seen to be one of the most
effective means of providing the necessary information (by
two-thirds). The trade press also features strongly and around one in
four would like information from trade unions or associations.
MORI interviewed licensees (or those responsible for licensing
arrangements) in 1,577 pubs & inns, restaurants & cafes, student
unions, small clubs, members clubs & associations and church &
community halls across England and Wales. This included a booster
sample of 267 venues in Wales. The data have been weighted by venue
type and region. All interviewing was conducted by telephone using
Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing between 18 June and 23 July