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LIVE MUSIC SCENE - THE VERDICT

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Almost half of the venues which took part in a major new survey on ...
Almost half of the venues which took part in a major new survey on

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

acts.

The first ever survey for the Live Music Forum, published today,

shows:

* 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

it.

'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.'

Notes

* 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

Brixton Academy.

* 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

entertainment.

Live Music in England and Wales - Executive Summary

Key Findings

* 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

three months.

* 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

Act.

* Local authorities and the trade press are the favoured sources of

information on the Licensing Act.

Live Music

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?

Yes

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)

Source: MORI

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

(756)

Source: MORI

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.

Technical Details

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

2004.

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