The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


12th October 2007 - Live music 'renaissance'

According to recent Mintel research, announced at the 'Live & Direct' conference on 19 September, the live entertainment industry is 'performing well' and is 'currently enjoying something of a renaissance'.

[Live & Direct website:  ]

But a spokesperson for Mintel later confirmed that the live music element of their research focused on venues specialising in live music and that the study looked back only as far as 2001. Many of the performances will be mainstream pop or rock. Ticket sales statistics will be significantly influenced by concerts such as Madonna's seven night Wembley sell-out at £160 per ticket.

Nonetheless it is good to read in the research summary (kindly supplied by Mintel on request) that '41% [of interviewees] believe a live music/theatre performance is more exciting and entertaining than watching it on TV' (note that the full Mintel report costs £1500).

Of course, the negative impact of entertainment licensing on live music was greatest on venues where live music was not the main business, and the problem dates back to the early 1980s when local authorities gained control of entertainment licensing, which had previously been administered by magistrates.

If past form is any guide, the government is likely to cite the Mintel study in Monday's licensing guidance debate in the House of Lords (15 October), and point to the fact that their follow-up live music/entertainment licensing research (by British Market Research Bureau) won't be ready until November.

On 24 July, culture minister Margaret Hodge said at the Musicians Union conference: '... rest assured - we don't want to stop musicians from performing and we don't want to put unnecessary barriers in their way. Why would we?'

Perhaps we will hear on Monday why the government believed it was necessary to criminalise the provision of a live musician in bar or at a private charity fund-raising function, without a special authorisation, while granting automatic permission to juke boxes and DJs.

Hamish Birchall