The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Friday 14th May 2010 - DCMS live music report removed from website

A widely criticised DCMS live music report has been removed from the new DCMS website:

'Changes in Live Music between 2005-2009' was published by DCMS on 28 January 2010 and is one of many documents 'temporarily removed for review', although it is still available online via the National Archive:

The report claimed that 'overall live music is thriving', but did acknowledge this was not the case for smaller venues.

However, the 'thriving' conclusion was not based on any direct measure of performances. It relied instead on indirect evidence: an 11% increase in live music licence applications 2007-9; an apparent 20% increase in the number of professional musicians; a modest increase in self-reported gig attendance (about 3% from the 'Taking Part' surveys); and Arts Council participation data (TGI).

DCMS itself conceded that it was unsafe to draw conclusions from licence application data. But it subsequently emerged that the 'professional' musician figures were nothing of the sort (30% were not musicians, 41% were part-time), and increased gig attendance data was probably due to the opening in 2007 of the mega-venues O2 and Wembley Stadium.

Concerns were raised in a series of Parliamentary Questions by Lords Clement-Jones and Colwyn (documented in earlier circulars, starting with 'More dodgy DCMS music stats' 19 Feb - see Hamish Birchall Bulletins: Answers were evasive or entirely avoided.

On 23 March, MP Ed Vaizey cited Music Week on DCMS 'cooking the books' in the Conservative blog 'Culture Politick': [search on page for 'cooking']

The Stage reports today that Mr Vaizey is expected to be confirmed as the new culture minister:

The last time DCMS surveyed actual performances in venues like bars and restaurants was in 2007 with the BMRB study. This found a 5% fall in performances after the Licensing Act came into effect in 2005, measured against benchmark the 2004 pre-Act MORI survey which found that the majority of premises had no live music at all in the previous 12 months. Most of those that did host live music did so relatively rarely. This did not stop DCMS calling this a 'flourishing' live music scene.

Archive link to 2007 DCMS/BMRB live music survey:

Archive link to 2004 DCMS/MORI live music survey:


Hamish Birchall