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New report confirms issues faced by grassroots venues

By | Published on Friday 16 February 2018

Live Music

The University Of Edinburgh has published the results of the live music census it carried out last year. The report highlights various issues facing the future of grassroots music venues in the UK.

Described as being “like a ‘Springwatch’ for live music”, the live music census saw volunteers going to shows in Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton and Brighton on 9 Mar last year (and also Liverpool on 1 Jun), to report back various bits of data about shows in the city. Musicians, venues, promoters and audiences were also invited to fill out an online survey.

Having analysed all the submissions, the final report confirms the various issues facing venue owners, as well as putting an economic value on live music in the various cities studied.

Of 200 venues included in the research, a third said that increased business rates were having a negative impact on them. Last year, UK Music urged the government to rethink increases in these taxes to reduce the risk that they would force small venues and recording studios to close.

A similar percentage of venues said that they had experienced issues with nearby property developments. This is a subject that has been in the news much more, of course, as new residential buildings get built near existing venues, resulting in noise complaints from the new neighbours.

The UK government did recently announce plans to introduce the ‘agent of change’ principle into planning laws in England, putting the onus of developers to protect new properties from external noise. Similar measures are being taken in Wales, though not yet in Scotland.

The survey identified a number of benefits delivered by live music, from its cultural impact to giving new artists their first leg up in the industry. It also put numbers on each monitored live scene’s economic contribution to its local economy, finding that £78.8 million made its way into Glasgow’s economy annually as a direct result of live music, with £43.3 million in Newcastle-Gateshead and £10.5 million in Oxford.

Dr Matt Brennan, from the University Of Edinburgh’s Reid School Of Music, says: “Festival and concert attendance continue to grow. This report not only shows the cultural and economic value of live music but also the challenges it faces. This survey is the largest of its kind in the UK. We hope it can influence the valuable contribution live music makes to wider society and help support the protection of the live music ecology”.

Download the full report here.