The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin

Tuesday 28th February 2006 -Abbey Road Coldplay gig - licensing implications

Licensing minister James Purnell said it would be 'much, much easier' to have live music under the new licensing laws (BBC R4 Today, 29 June 2005).

But both the BBC and Abbey Road Studios seem to have been unclear about the implications when they hosted a Coldplay gig on Monday 13 February in front of an audience of free ticket winners of a BBC competition and celebrity musicians, including Jamie Cullum. The performance was reviewed in the Evening Standard of Tue 14 February ('Tiniest gig... greatest band', John Aizlewood, p23). The gig is due for broadcast in April on Radio 2.

See this report in The Stage online:

A long statement that I obtained from Westminster's legal department offered some comfort to those involved: '... confusion derives from the legislation itself and not the competence of people working in the [Westminster] licensing division'.

Simon Mehigan QC, co-author of 'Patersons Licensing Acts' said: 'In my view the Coldplay gig seems to have involved the provision of entertainment to a section of the public; accordingly it constituted a licensable activity within the Act. However I am not suprised that the need to obtain a licence or to serve a TEN [Temporary Event Notice] may have been overlooked in this case.  The regulation of entertainment is a particularly obscure area of a very complex statute. As a lawyer I applaud such lack of clarity; as a citizen I abhor it.'

Westminster's analysis of the scope of the new legislation has potentially far-reaching implications. It suggests that not only was the gig 'for a section of the public', but that even if it had been private it would have been licensable.  And, as The Stage reports, Westminster also suggests that even if the government did not intend it, studios hiring themselves out to bands for recording may fall within the Act.

Today's Times also carries a short piece on p30: 'Abbey Road hosts "illegal" gig'.,,2-2061392,00.html


Hamish Birchall