The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Thursday 18th September 2007 - LMF replaced by live music 'experts'


The Lib Dem debate on the Licensing Guidance is less than a month away. It will be held in the House of Lords on Monday 15 October. If you have problems with the new Guidance, published by DCMS on 28 June, or indeed with the Act itself, please send details to:  - an address set up by the Lib Dems specifically for examples that can be incorporated into the debate.

Meanwhile, DCMS has confirmed that the Live Music Forum has been disbanded, and that a 'small group of experts from the live music sector', formerly LMF members, are to help DCMS 'quality assure' the important follow-up live music survey. The research results are due to be announced this November.

This raises many questions, including: 'Why was the Live Music Forum (LMF) disbanded before evaluation of the impact of the Act on live music was complete?'.  

After all, a key part of the LMF remit was to evaluate the impact of the Act on live music, and it was closely involved in the design of the first 'benchmark' live music study carried out by MORI in August 2004.

However, it has emerged that the LMF as a group was not consulted over the research methodology for the follow-up survey now being carried out by British Market Research Bureau (BMRB).

This despite the fact that DCMS liaison with BMRB is likely to have started before the LMF's last meeting on 16 April 2007. DCMS offered BMRB the live music research contract in an email dated 18 May 2007 (obtained using the Freedom of Information Act). The offer was clearly made on the basis of prior contact and correspondence, including 'revised costings' from BRMB.

Could the explanation for the LMF's premature demise be that DCMS saw them drifting off-message? The LMF concluded among other things that the Act needed urgent amendment to include a small gigs exemption - exactly as the music industry had argued, and the government fiercely resisted, in 2003 when the Act was being debated.

The live music experts invited by DCMS to help quality assure the BMRB survey report are:

John Smith (MU General Secretary), Deborah Clarke (Village Hall Information Officer, Action with Communities in Rural England - ACRE), Martin Rawlings (British Beer and Pub Association), Jim Mawdsley (Generator North East - popular music development agency), and Peter Jenner (Billy Bragg's manager, and secretary general of the International Music Managers Forum).

Most of the information above concerning the DCMS and their BMRB follow-up live music survey was gleaned from written answers to questions from Lib Dem Peer Lord Clement-Jones. See the full text here:

Hamish Birchall