Live music - gig

One in three small venues affected by property development, report finds

The UK’s first live music census reports the threats faced by small venues, as well as their cultural and economic value.

  • By Lucy Doyle
  • 16 Feb 2018
  • min read
The UK’s first live music census has found that one in three small venues have been affected negatively by planning and property development in the last 12 months.

The project – funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council – was carried out by researchers in March 2017, who visited nearly 200 venues in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle-Gateshead, Oxford and Southampton.

Nearly a third (29 percent) of small music venues said that noise-related complaints had a negative impact on their business in the last 12 months, while the same percentage of promoters were affected by venue closure.

The results also showed that increasing tax rates and noise level restrictions are affecting smaller venues.
One third of venues reported that increases in business rates were having a negative impact.

Elsewhere, the findings highlight the financial difficulties faced by musicians, with over half (54 percent) of musician respondents saying they have worked unpaid in the past 12 months.

Many play for free in order to get 'exposure', but 66 percent said they didn't believe this benefited their career.

The census provides further evidence that music fans spend more money on live music than recorded music. Nearly half (47 percent) of the 4,400 people surveyed spend more than £20 on tickets for concerts and festivals each month, while only a quarter spend the same on recorded music.

The findings also show the significant economic value of live music. The estimated total annual spend on
live music is £78.8m in Glasgow, £43.3m in Newcastle-Gateshead and £10.5m in Oxford.

The researchers said that in proving how 'the smaller end of the live music sector is a vital part of the live music ecology,' debates about the future of the live music industry will be better informed.

Dr Matt Brennan, from the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music, said: '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.'

The findings of the census follow the-government's backing of the Agent Of Change principle, which promises vital protection to venues under threat from developers.

View the full census report here.