Changes to the Live Music Act 2012
Changes to the Live Music Act 2012
When the Licensing Act 2003 (“the 2003 Act”) was launched supporters of live music were concerned that the legislation would stifle development of emerging musicians by deterring small venue owners, for example pub landlords, from hosting live performances.
The Live Music Act received Royal Assent on 8 March 2012 and came into force on 1 October 2012. It means that many small venues are now able to put on live music without a music license.
The changes were introduced through a private member's bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat Don Foster, in order to amend some of the bureaucracy imposed on gigs by the Licensing Act 2003. Foster steered the bill through the House of Commons on behalf of his Lib Dem colleague, Lord Clement Jones.
It’s hoped that this revision will energise and promote grass roots music, something which is vital for the long term health of the UK music industry.
What changes does the Live Music Act 2012 introduce?
You are able to put on live music under the terms of the Act if:
- you are based in England or Wales
- you have an alcohol licence (although in some circumstances an alcohol license may not be required)
- there will be fewer than 200 people in the audience, for amplified music. There is no audience limit for unamplified music
- the live music will not take place between 11pm and 8am.
You will not need regulated entertainment on your license if you want to have music as part of another event, and if the following conditions apply:
- music is not the main, or one of the main, reasons for people attending the venue
- music is not advertised as the main attraction
- the volume of the music does not disrupt or predominate over other activities, and could be described as background music.
There will be no restriction on the number of musicians allowed to perform.
The Act also widens the licensing exemption for live music integral to a performance of Morris dancing, or similar, so that the exemption applies to live or recorded music generally instead of just unamplified live music.
Katy Spicer, Chief Executive of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS), said of the revised Act: “Having being involved in the consultation for this amendment, EFDSS are delighted at the outcome, and congratulate Don Foster and Lord Clement Jones for making sense of the 2003 legislation and so supporting and encouraging live performance.”
Alan James of Hold Tight Management which currently works with Spiro, Sam Lee and Three Cane Whale, also Chairman of the EFDSS Board of Trustees, said: “I think the exemption for small venues helps us all in the live industry because it’s the grass roots where all the new artists emerge. Also, for the bands I work with a 200 cap room makes sense for the size of our audience and the economics. We need more of these venues, now is the time for a new generation of promoters to start running clubs and nights.”
Terry O’Brien of Playpen Management and Agency, said: “As someone who works closely with folk clubs across the UK, I know that freeing music venues of 200 capacity or less from the burden of licensing will be most welcome, particularly for the active amateur promoters who are without doubt the engine house of the folk scene. This change alone will not of course mean a sudden blossoming of new clubs and events. That particular change, in the folk genre, will take a concerted effort by the folk scene as a whole to encourage, train and support a new generation of young promoters, who will no doubt welcome the fact that their first efforts in promoting live music will not be hampered by licensing administration.”
The Musicians Union have launched a Live Music Kit containing both practical and creative advice for venues.
The pack outlines the terms of the Act, explaining how a live music programme can enhance businesses with a higher public profile, vibrant venue atmosphere and an increase in heads through the door and revenue.
There’s also advice on the legislative, practical and creative elements involved in hosting live music, and features a range of resources, including performance contracts, health and safety issues, promotional advice and useful contacts.
The Live Music Kit is available for download here as a PDF or can be read on ISSUU page turner here.