The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Thursday 1st April 2010 - Sharkey calls on minister to back live music bill

Feargal Sharkey, boss of UK Music, has written to licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe asking the government to back Lord Clement-Jones' live music bill now that the DCMS small gigs exemption consultation has closed, writes Robert Ashton in Music Week 31 March:

The bill proposes an entertainment licensing exemption for live music in bars and other alcohol-licensed premises up to 200 capacity, an exemption for schools and hospitals, and the reintroduction of the 'two in a bar rule' for unamplified or minimally amplified live music:

Theoretically there is time for the government to negotiate a deal with the Lib Dems. Parliament returns from the Easter recess on 6th April. But that is the date everyone expects Gordon Brown to call the general election. Realistically, the bill's chances are slim.

Reliable sources suggest that DCMS received more than 800 responses to their consultation, which closed on Friday 26 March. 800 is more than double the number of local authorities in England and Wales. Although a majority will have opposed the exemption, it is very unlikely that all, or even the majority responded. This leaves most responses divided between residents groups and individuals opposed to the exemption, and musicians, performers' unions, and live music organisations in favour. By now DCMS will know the breakdown of those in favour and those against, and whether an 'overwhelming majority' support a figure larger than the 100-audience exemption proposed by DCMS.

Sharkey's letter to the minister follows publication on 29 March of the UK Music vision for the music industry. Entitled 'Liberating Music' it includes among its recommendations an exemption for 200-capacity venues from entertainment licensing, and the reintroduction of the 'two in a bar rule' (see p30):

Discussing 'Liberating Music' in The Guardian on 29 March, Sharkey said:

"I think people still look at music and think it is not a proper grown-up profession and that has got to change because ironically what some people in the world of finance might dismiss as nothing more than a couple of kids making noise in the back of a pub on a Friday night, when they grow up to be big boys and girls, the contribution and the impact that they will have on the rest of society is just - if not more - significant as some bloke with a double first from Cambridge working for a merchant bank in the City of London."


Hamish Birchall