Following a consultation from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the government has issued a new proposal aimed at helping small live music venues.
Passed in October 2012, the Live Music Act allowed venues with capacities of up to 200 people to be exempt from licensing requirements. The change in law was part of a government move to free businesses from red tape, thereby giving them more freedom to grow. It was estimated that the Act enabled 13,000 more sites to start holding live music events. Now a new proposal aims to extend the Act to venues with a capacity of up to 500.
Paul Smith, lead singer of Maximo Park, spoke about the importance of small venues to new bands who are building a fan base – “clearly, not everyone can be Coldplay or even a medium-sized band, so it’s crucial that people can attend less popular, but equally exciting gigs. Once they [bands] have a small following they can generate a great atmosphere in small venues, regardless of whether their audience grows or not”.
Phil Little of the Live Music Forum admitted that although the changes were more than they had hoped for, they had “campaigned for almost twenty years” to bring them about. He added that “it is plain that much of the damage to the scene has already been done. Without an improvement in audience attendance across the board we have an awful long way to go to match the vibrance of live music performance in previous decades”.