Inaugural UK-wide census of live music: a glimmer of hope for music venues


What’s your take on the live music scene in your city?

As the nation-wide census of the music scene comes into view, Getintothis’ Banjo reflects how Liverpool might figure in such an evaluation.

Edinburgh University have announced their intention to carry out the first ever census of the UK music scene.

The census aims to ‘take the pulse’ of the gigs, venues and performers in seven cities, taking in acts from street buskers to stadium gigs.

The hope is that the survey will assess the value of live music and its cultural and economic value, as well as finding out what the challenges are to live music. It may even inform policy to help live music flourish across the country. A similar scheme ran in Edinburgh recently and led to the council relaxing its laws on noise pollution.

The census is described as “like a Springwatch for live music”, meaning that those wishing to take part will be able to document which gigs and venues they are attending, and how often.

Dr Matt Brennan from the organisers the University of Edinburgh, commented: “Live music in the UK, from the Beatles and the Sex Pistols to West End musicals and Glastonbury, has transformed our culture, yet it is constantly under pressure. This census will help give us an accurate snapshot of the scene’s health.

This will all take place in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Birmingham, Southampton and Brighton, and will run for 24 hours from 12.00 noon on March 9.

There is also an online survey for people across the UK, which will be looking into on how much people spend, how far they are prepared to travel and how much money they are likely to spend. The survey can be found here:

Later in January, annual Independent Venue Week comes to 120 venues around the country

What would a similar census on Liverpool’s music scene tell us?

Well, there have certainly been some losses to our impressive list of venues recently. The Kazimier has closed down and Nation has been bulldozed to make way for accommodations. Even 24 Kitchen Street‘s fate is in danger. However on the plus side, The Olympia has stepped up its game and provided some great nights over recent months.

A significant portion of the people involved with The Kazimier have moved on to flourish the new favourite warehouse venue The Invisible Wind Factory up north. The venue has offered sanctuary to many of the city’s favourite events like FestEVOL and Liverpool Music Week along with hosting some unique events from theatrical shows, raves to what not, and delivering some great gigs by Peaches, Floating Points etc. Alongside, new venues like Northshore Troubadour and Meraki pitch in to turn the Northern Docks into city’s upcoming cultural centre.

Down south, The Baltic Triangle continues to home the Threshold Festival and Psych Fest along with decent shows all year around at Constellations, Camp and Furnace among other venues. While 24 Kitchen Street‘s future looks worrying right now, it has undeniably been the perfect place for electronic sets.

The Echo Arena has helped attract some of the bigger names to the city, with recent shows from ELO and Richard Ashcroft, and  forthcoming appearances from Kings of Leon, The Who, Iron Maiden and, erm, Donny Osmond. Even the Philharmonic Hall continues to attract some big names from time to time.

Smaller venues proliferate, such as The Shipping Forecast, The Magnet, Studio 2 and even Leaf, which feature a variety of acts and events all year round. The friendly neighbourhood Buyers Club is the new hub for budding artists and both Heebies Jeebies, which was recently announced to be the most instagrammed club in UK, and its refurbished basement EBGBS host some great nights time to time. Moreover, Arts Club, which was purchased by Academy Music Group last year, still sees some great artists stop by.

Bars and pubs like The Brink, Jacaranda, Hannah’s etc. continue to host regular open mic nights for the singer-songwriters in town while Church Street is never short of buskers. The world-famous Matthew Street hasn’t gone silent either and on lucky days, some unique venues like The Anglican Cathedral, Williamson Tunnels and Central Library become host to memorable nights as well.

So what do you think of the state of Liverpool’s music scene? Use the comments section below to tell us your favourite venues, best gigs, how often you go out in town or what you think of your city’s musical know how. Over to you…