The Live Music Forum

Welwyn Hatfield Live Music Forum Comments on DCMS Statistics

Welwyn Live Music Forum's comments on DCMS internal correspondence on live music statistics.

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The DCMS says,

"DCMS collects a range of high quality data on live music. No one source provides a complete picture but when these statistics are analysed together with relevant industry data they provide evidence of how the sector has fared in recent years. Overall the sector is thriving. During this period, the number of licences with provision for live music has increased, the proportion of adults attending live music has grown and there has been an increase in the number of professional musicians. However, this growth has been concentrated at medium and larger venues, and there has been a fall in the adult population who attend music at smaller venues. Evidence suggests that this is due to the decline in the overall numbers of pubs and bars, and the growth in live concerts at larger venues (as established acts respond to falling profitability of recorded music)."

John King counters,

"The evidence contained within this report does not substantiate the claim “overall the sector is thriving”. The no. of licences with live music provision is not evidence of more performances of music – and this report concedes that these statistics include schools, hospitals, outdoor public spaces, and premises which are in fact closed.
The claim that there is an increase in the number of professional musicians is false. This claim is based on a statistic “cherry-picked” from a report which is not an official statistic, and in fact includes 41% part-time musicians. This statistic also includes musicians in Scotland and Northern Ireland where the Licensing Act does not apply. The DCMS has ignored other findings of this report such as ‘39% of people working in music earn less than £10,000 per year’ and ‘the gross value added of music has declined by a third since 2006’.

The growth in live concerts at larger venues is not because established acts have responded to market changes, it can be entirely attributed to attendances at the O2 Arena and Wembley Stadium. While leaping to the conclusion that live music is thriving, DCMS has conveniently ignored statistics from a vital sector of the live music industry: manufacturing. The DCMS analysts appear to be unaware the
UK has sadly lost two flagships of it’s live music manufacturing industry.
2009 saw the UK’s last manufacturer of PA equipment, Carlsbro going into liquidation (their MD, Andrew Castle has written to DCMS concerning licensing reform), and the closure UK’s last piano manufacturer, Kemble & Co. Real jobs have been lost in this sector - not imaginary ones invented by DCMS statisticians."