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UK’s First Live Music Census Reveals Ongoing Threats to Small Venues

Small venues continue to face threats that could affect their long-term future, warns UK’s first Live Music Census.

Published: 16 February 2018 | 12:00 AM Updated: 28 April 2021 | 4:29 PM
Small venues continue to face threats that could affect their long-term future, warns UK’s first Live Music Census.

The census, led by researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Turku in Finland, surveyed 200 venues in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle-Gateshead, Oxford, and Southampton.

Findings include:
  • One third of small venues surveyed have been negatively affected by increases in business rates
  • One in three small venues surveyed have experienced problems with nearby property development, which can cause noise complaints from people living nearby
  • The total spend of people at live music events contributes significant sums to local economies – £78.8 million annually in Glasgow, £43.3m in Newcastle-Gateshead, and £10.5m in Oxford
  • Nearly 50% of people surveyed spend more than £20 on tickets for concerts or festivals each month. Only 25% spend the same on recorded music
  • Over 75% had visited small music venues – those with a capacity of up to 350 people – during the past 12 months
  • Some 74% had visited pubs and bars for live music in the 12 months prior to the survey
The census highlights the social and cultural value of venues – how they help people discover new music and become part of their life stories.

Kelly Wood, MU Live Performance Official, says:

“It’s the right time for the UK’s first Live Music Census to put the spotlight on grassroots venues, the struggles they continue to face, and the importance of live music to local communities.

“We have been lobbying Government for Agent of Change and working with local campaigns to save venues over the last few years. We can be proud of the way in which musicians have come together to protect local venues.

“At the same time music consumers, audiences and fans have become more familiar with the workings and struggles of this part of the industry. It’s vital that consumers are involved in lobbying for and supporting their favourite venues, as they often feel as passionate and dependent on the music as the creators themselves.”

Read the census via

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