The Live Music Forum


Saturday 14th January 2996 - BBC R4 Front Row: Jamie Cullum speaks out again


Following The Times' coverage, BBC R4's 'Front Row' interviewed Jamie Cullum yesterday about his protest against the new licensing laws, (see transcript below).

It seems The Times misquoted Jamie, and his 'protest gig' now looks unlikely. Nonetheless, he remains outspoken in his opposition. Note that both the BBC and The Times were inaccurate about the '£1000 licence fee'. For a typical bar or restaurant, it would be knock-on costs that push the total bill to over £1000. However, as earlier BBC reports showed, total costs including live music permission were often in excess of £2,000. This came about because of lawyers' fees and the cost of architects' plans, not to mention implementing local authority licence conditions which can add thousands more.

DCMS is up to its usual tricks, reportedly claiming that the new law is 'fairer'. Fairer to recorded and broadcast entertainment, yes. Jukeboxes and other sound systems already in situ were waved through on the nod, and big screen sport (or music) is exempt. But the unlicensed provision of one or two live musicians in a restaurant, even unamplified, is criminalised.

DCMS also claim in a statement that 'a significant number of pubs have applied for the new entertainment licences'. What they didn't tell the BBC is: 1) Live music applications are not granted licences; 2) many such applications will fail, and many will be granted subject to expensive conditions (installing CCTV for example); 3) even where they are granted, only when the licence conditions are implemented will it be legal to have live music; 4) a very significant number of pubs have lost the automatic right to solo or duo gigs and will not have any live music permission on their new premises licence.

Several musicians have contacted me in the last week with reports of more two-in-a-bar gigs lost as a direct result of the new licensing laws. I am preparing these for another circular shortly.

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BBC Radio 4 Front Row - Friday 13 January 2006, 7.30pm approx - Jamie Cullum licensing protest Presenter,

Kirsty Lang: [Richard Ashcroft music plays].... Richard Ashcroft, and 'Keys to the world' is out on January 23rd on the Parlophone label and you can find details of Ashcroft's current tour by going to our website. Now he has spoken about how he likes playing small, intimate venues. Something which fellow singer Jamie Cullum warned today is under threat. The best-selling jazz musician says he's planning to stage an illegal gig in protest at the government's new licensing laws which means that all venues are gonna to have to pay £1000 to put live music on, even if it's only one man on a keyboard in a pub. Up until November, no licence was required if there was only one or two musicians playing. Well I spoke to Jamie Cullum on his way to a gig in Cardiff earlier today, and I asked him why he was making this stand.

Jamie Cullum: I feel quite strongly about this, this whole thing because about 90% of my gigs over the last five years now don't exist. The ones where I played and learned and got experience, and earnt money. And I've so many friends now who aren't signed to labels, who aren't, you know, earning big money or anything who have lost a lot of their gigs.

Kirsty Lang: So what you're saying is that er none of the places you played, the landlords wouldn't be prepared to pay a £1000 licence fee

Jamie Cullum: Well the thing is...

Kirsty Lang: to put a gig on...

Jamie Cullum: ... a lot of people don't know how it works, because normally when you get something like jazz which is a kind of minority interest music, it's not normally the venues who decide to put music on. It's normally like a, a local enthusiast who goes along to a venue and says why don't you have a jazz night once a Thursday, I'll promote it, I'll put it on and, and all we'll need is this, and you know I'll get some more people down, I promise it'll work. And suddenly there's a thousand pounds to be paid, and you know the landlord certainly isn't going to do it and your average everyday promoter from Wiltshire or from wherever, or the outskirts of London, isn't gonna be able to afford that and, and therefore won't be doing it.

Kirsty Lang: Do you have a, a date and a venue yet for your illegal gig?

Jamie Lang: No, I mean the thing...  I was slightly misquoted on that because of course it wouldn't be me who was arrested. You know it would be the venue who was in breach of that contract, but I was so annoyed when I realised that it was actually coming in that I, I just really think that er, you know I believe this law's been implemented because they were just trying to tie up all the loose ends with the licensing laws. These laws have always been a bit weird. Back in the day when I was doing duo gigs, you know if you had a third musician suddenly it was against the law. You could have the White Stripes in, you know because it was just two people. So it just hasn't been thought through, and it hasn't been thought through the impact it has on the everyday musician.

Kirsty Lang: Well I mean, as you, as you say the previous law was nonsensical, according to the Culture Department. Actually, the point now is that the law, they say, will be fairer.

Jamie Cullum: Well, it certainly kind of, put some kind of governmental kind of stamp on it... [phrase unclear] now there's kind of restrictions. But unfortunately now what it's just doing is driving live music out of your everyday average place.

Kirsty Lang: Jamie Cullum. And we did talk to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport who look after these matters and they told us that a significant number of pubs have applied for the new entertainment licences.

END of Jamie Cullum piece.

Hamish Birchall