The Live Music Forum


Friday 25th November 2005 - The Morning After

It is too early to assess the long-term effect of the 'none in a bar rule'. However, you can be sure that if there is little or no improvement, or even if things get worse, the government will do nothing unless there is significant opposition from the public, musicians' organisations and the music industry.

Remember this minister's quote: 'My view is that there will be an explosion in live music as a result of removing the discriminatory two-in-a-bar provision' (Lord McIntosh, House of Lords, 26 November 2002). This summer James Purnell repeatedly told us on the BBC how much better the new regime would be for live music.

If you know of gigs lost as a result of the new regime, or if, in a few months time, you feel that the new regime has not delivered the improvement you expected or is unsatisfactory for other reasons, use this website to tell your MP (it identifies them from your postcode):

It is always best to use your own words, but it may be useful to remind MPs that the Licensing Act gives the Secretary of State at DCMS power by order to change the descriptions of entertainment.

As to the attitude of musicians' organisations and the music industry, it would seem that 'wait and see' is the general view.

Peering into the gloom of the Musicians' Union website today did not reveal much to me about their current thinking on 'none in a bar'. Given the political context of the live music debate, however, MU members may be interested to learn that in March their union made a £30,000 donation to the Labour Party's general election fighting fund. This was on top of their affiliation fees, which currently stand at £7,738 per quarter. According to the Electoral Commission the MU has paid Labour a total of £135,242 since 30 September 2001. See:

It may also be of interest that, in an industry where most practitioners will earn nowhere near the national average wage (currently about £26k) from live performance, the MU General Secretary's annual salary and benefits package is at least £80k. This information is in the public domain in the MU's annual return to the trade union Certification Officer:

The Certification Officer publishes the salary and benefits for all trade union general secretaries. Interestingly, John Smith's remuneration package in 2003 was only £6k less per annum than that of the GMB's general secretary. The GMB has over half a million members, compared with the MU's 31,000. However union membership is not necessarily a reliable guide to GS salaries and benefits. For example, very few come anywhere near the £746k pa earned in 2003 by the 'Chief Executive/Secretary' of the Professional Footballers Association, whose membership was 3,918 in that year.


Hamish Birchall