Here Isabelle talks about the history of the MU’s campaign and presents an FAQ to help musicians and venues to better understand how the changes will work.
“The MU has been lobbying on this issue ever since the Licensing Bill first started going through Parliament in 2002-03. Once the Licensing Act came into place in 2003 and our members started telling us that the number of gigs being held in small venues was going down, our campaign really began in earnest.
“The information that we collected, coupled with the research from the Live Music Forum suggested that it was small venues in particular that had suffered as a result of the Licensing Act. This was confirmed by the Culture, Media and Sport select committee enquiry into the impact of the Licensing Act on live entertainment. The results of this enquiry were published in May 2009 and it firmly came down in favour of an exemption to the Act for small venues.
Lord Clement Jones then partly based his private members ‘Live Music Bill’ on these findings. The MU and others in the industry lobbied hard to get this Bill passed in parliament – and it was finally given Royal Assent in March this year.”
What does the Live Music Act mean?
As a result of the Act, in England and Wales, performances of live amplified music to audiences of fewer than 200 people between the hours of 8am-11pm will no longer need local authority permission. There will be no audience limit for performances of unamplified live music. We believe that it will be a real boost to live music performance as it will reduce the bureaucracy and expense for small venues wishing to put on live music.
When does it come into force?
It will come into effect on 1 October 2012.
What was the problem?
Over the past few years our members have been telling us that the number of gigs available to young musicians who are still perfecting their craft has gone down. This is primarily due to a reduction in the number of smaller venues which traditionally offered this level of gig, and is directly linked to the Licensing Act. The exemption that the Live Music Bill introduces will be hugely beneficial to these small venues
The MU is producing an updated version of its Live Music Kit which will be sent to all trade associations and many individual licensees. This, we hope, will assist licensees in getting the permissions that they need – or now may not need – in order to put on performances of live music.
How can I get hold of the Live Music Kit?
About the author
Isabelle Gutierrez is the MU’s Political Research Officer (pictured) and has been at the forefront of the MU’s political lobbying which has led to the proposed changes to the Licensing Act.