The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Tuesday 1st December 2009 - MU - mixed licensing message

On 9th October the Musicians Union issued a short statement backing new entertainment licence exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity, and announcing its participation in the Equity demonstration to that end outside Parliament:

But an MU statement yesterday, 30th November, appeared to endorse licensing for any venue wishing to promote regular live music:

It included this quote from assistant general secretary Horace Trubridge:

'We want to see venues using the incidental music exception as an initial foray into putting on live music. If it works for the venue, then the next step would be to have regulated entertainment added to the licence. For instance, if a restaurant tries some live jazz on a Wednesday then wants to extend it to other nights and advertise the acts, it could do so through the minor variations process, which is much cheaper and quicker than applying for a full variation.'

There was no mention of the union's position on new exemptions, or indeed their policy position that live music should be outside the licensing regime altogether. Read without this context, as it would be by many journalists, the statement could readily be taken as an endorsement, in principle, for the licensing regime as it stands.

It is of course in members' interests that the MU pursues every available means of increasing work opportunities. Working with DCMS and the Local Government Association to that end is not merely desirable, but obligatory.

These pragmatic alliances do not mean, however, that the case for exemptions must be suppressed. Indeed, if the union were committed to the case for new exemptions, this message would surely be reinforced at every opportunity.

But by pouring cold water on the Number 10 licensing petition [ ] and issuing mixed messages to the press, the case for exemptions is undermined. The question for members must be 'why?'.


Hamish Birchall