UK Live Music Census – what does it mean for Liverpool?

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Mountford Hall – Liverpool Guild of Students

The UK’s first live music census has been published, Getintothis’ Howard Doupé weighs up the Merseyside impact.

The UK’s first live music census has been published and its findings throw some stark warnings facing the long-term future of the domestic gig venue circuit.

Being the largest of its kind, Dr Matt Brennan, from the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School Of Music had this to say on its aims “We hope it can influence the valuable contribution live music makes to wider society and help support the protection of the live music ecology.”

Carried out in March 2017 by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Turka in Finland, surveys were carried out in numerous major cities in the UK, including Liverpool last June. Not too surprisingly, the issues are evident all over the city.

The study concluded that one in three small music venues surveyed said they had experienced problems with property developments, potentially leading to noise complaints from local residents. Secondly, one third of the nearly 200 venues surveyed reported that increases in business rates were having a negative impact.

What does this mean for Liverpool though? Well, last weeks breaking news from The Magnet is just one of many music venue closures to hit the city in recent years. With venues changing hands, changing functions or simply being bulldozed for another block of flats, it seems that some of survey’s findings may be a reality.

It’s not all doom and gloom, there is some news that gig goers can be joyful for in the wake of the census. In response the Government has backed moves to enshrine the ‘agent of change’ principle in law, which promises to offer protection to venues. Developers will now have to take into account the impact of any new scheme on pre-existing businesses before going ahead with their plans.

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As a whole, the findings indicate a healthy grassroots scene: over three quarters of people surveyed had visited small music venues – defined as those with a capacity of up to 350 people – during the past year, and 74% had visited pubs and bars for live music.

The scourge of live music- after sales reselling- seems to be losing its grip too with secondary ticketing. Just 0.4% of respondents said they had bought a ticket to a music event for the purposes of reselling in the last 12 months. Let’s be honest though, would anyone realistically admit to it in a survey?

It would be naive to pretend there isn’t a demand for customers to return unwanted tickets (how is this still not available by every major ticketing agency). Needless to say, an audience survey revealed that reselling for a profit was an ongoing concern for significant numbers of respondents.

“With this in mind, we recommend the UK Government continues to investigate secondary ticketing via the Competition and Markets Authority and that the Digital, Cultural, Media and Sport Committee continues its investigations in this area.” commented Dr Brennan.

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