The Live Music Forum
Phil Little Bulletin
Monday 19th April 2010 - Prejudiced Against Live Music
Prejudiced Against Live Music
Local government licensing officers are prejudiced against live music.
How else to explain the ludicrous suggestion last month from LACORS (Local Authorities Co-ordinators of Regulatory Services) that using drums, brass instruments or bagpipes should be a potential criminal offence unless licensed? Or, Local Government Association opposition to almost any entertainment licensing exemption for small-scale performances of live music?
These ideas were set out in responses from the LGA and LACORS, to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) consultation on an entertainment licence exemption within the Licensing Act 2003 for live performance to audiences of up to 100 (closed on 26th March 2010) and a separate consultation on Entertainment Facilities (closed on 26th February 2010).
Local government opposition is based on their view that local residents and licensing officers should be able to block live gigs merely on the grounds of the potential for noise. But no evidence is produced that noise from live music is a significant problem, or that existing noise nuisance legislation is inadequate.
Unfortunately, many local authorities encourage residents to complain about music merely because they can hear it, not because it is causing a 'public nuisance'. This was not an objective of the Licensing Act.
Local authorities in Scotland use the Environmental Protection Act 1990
to deal with noise. Why do English and Welsh authorities use the Licensing
Act to regulate the extremely small number of live music
We believe that pre-emptive regulation through licensing, without discriminating
between high or low-risk events, can be neither necessary nor proportionate.
Moreover, the lack of necessity or
Following the violence in Manchester during the 2008 UEFA Cup final screening, Lord Davies, on behalf of the Government, concluded that there would have been no measures available in the Licensing Act 2003 which would have prevented this.
In their DCMS consultation response, the LGA cite an 11% increase in
the number of premises licensed for live music since 2007. They conclude,
fallaciously, that demand for live music is therefore
Under the Licensing Act 2003, the scope of entertainment licensing increased
dramatically. The old regime had exemptions for one or two musicians in
bars. Private charity fund-raising performances were
The fact remains that in tens of thousands of premises it would be illegal
to host live music today. Prior to the Licensing Act 2003, many if not
most would have been able to have some live music any day
The urgent need for a small gigs exemption is backed by the whole music industry, including the Live Music Forum, performers unions, the Incorporated Society of Musicians, and UK Music - the lobbying agency for the music business, whose Chief Executive, Feargal Sharkey, said in his recent letter to licensing minister, Gerry Sutcliffe, "Over the past 6 years, Government have conducted eight consultations, two Government research projects and two national review processes, all of which reached this conclusion".
It appears to us that entertainment licensing is promoted by local authorities for their administrative convenience without any serious regard for the cultural implications.
There is no grave threat to public amenity from a licensing exemption
for small live music events. However, there are the issues of the employment
of scores of thousands and the perpetuation of a popular
There is no decrease in the demand for live music. Live Music is the new 'Gospel' following the shrinking of the recording industry.