The Live Music Forum

Phil Little Bulletin

Tuesday 23rd February 2010 - Live Music Bill will create new opportunities

Live Music Bill will create new opportunities says Live Music Forum founder

Published by Music Week Tuesday 23rd Sep. 2010

If Lord Tim Clement-Jones Live Music Bill became law in its present form, would things be better? Possibly not, if you’re a drummer. Because if the two-in-a-bar rule is reintroduced they will be the ones to go under any duo restriction.

But, without a doubt the Bill would open up a lot of opportunities of different kinds, and for many different categories of workers, not just musicians.

For every four musicians employed add another two jobs in supporting occupations. There would be an immediate increase in the number of live performances in pubs, clubs and restaurants, which have been worst hit by the Licensing Act 2003.

Live Music is currently a popular method of attracting customers back into pubs hard hit by the economy and the smoking ban. But for many small venues the process of licensing live music can be complicated and expensive.

If Lord Clement-Jones' Bill succeeded, a premises up to 200 capacity, already licensed for alcohol, could present a band or a solo performer from 8am up until midnight. Many will, too. Maybe some of the thousands of bands that are turning out of our colleges will at last have somewhere to play. Some people have been worried about noise nuisance but other laws already safeguard the public.

Under the present regime, a major record retailer got in hot water with one council for presenting an “angelic” pop star, free to the public, at a shopping centre at Christmas time.

Imagine, if shops were able to have live musicians playing. Live acts in supermarkets, perhaps a jazz band in a department store to announce a promotion. Or just an instrumentalist providing background music as you browse for clothes. A Ladies hairdresser with a live pianist or violinist would be booked solid. Under the Live Music Bill, two acoustic musicians with minimal amplification would be able to play in more or less any public space, provided they didn't draw more than 200 people.

Some towns are inviting buskers to play in order to encourage shoppers back into deserted high streets. The Live Music Bill would ease restrictions on busking in boroughs which discourage street entertainment.

The human element of a live performance is more appealing than an audio recording but some of the skills involved with delivering an excellent performance have died out, as has the popularity of some instruments, like keyboards and saxophone. With many more opportunities for student musicians to perform, a greater variety of musicianship will flourish. Both technically, and in the range of instruments played.

In the past a lot of knowledge has been handed down from old to young and not necessarily in the constrained environment of a college. Unfortunately, the more informal and traditional method of education has suffered badly, with the drying up of venues caused by the Licensing Act 2003. If we have more venues and events, then there are more opportunities for the experienced to pass on their knowledge, especially to those who can't afford private lessons, as is often the case.

Creativity takes place when musicians are allowed just to get on playing and interact. Increased work and collaborative opportunities for musicians in different genres is surely a good thing. The more things there are happening, more people get used to listening to and appreciating live performances and the excitement of improvisation.

Through these improvements, it is possible we may begin to hear truly original music again as a proliferation of playing opportunities spring up like the daffodils of a new spring.

The interest in live music has grown now to such a point that it has become an election issue and even if the Lib Dem Bill does not succeed, either a desperate bid for popularity by a Labour Government hanging on should see their small gigs exemption in, or, alternatively, a Conservative exemption in the event of a new Tory Government. But the bottom line is, it all depends on what happens at the General Election.

Please help drive home the point by signing the number 10 petition at,

Phil Little

Live Music Forum