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ET Obit:Live Music 28th Nov (12) Obit:Live Music 28th Nov 02 Aug 05

From the Guardian today :-

New act will give music lovers the blues
Tuesday August 2, 2005 Guardian
We are musicians, music-lovers, promoters and representatives of support organisations for jazz in the UK. We wish to declare our opposition to the treatment of live music in bars and restaurants under the new Licensing Act, due to come into force on November 24 (Time called for alcohol licences, August 1).
Since 1961, restaurants or bars have been able to present up two musicians without the premises requiring an entertainment licence. But under the new regime, one musician playing to a few diners in a restaurant could lead to heavy fines and a jail sentence for the licensee - unless the venue is explicitly licensed for live performance.
The government says the act is necessary to control antisocial behaviour, public safety and noise. Yet big-screen sport broadcasts in bars are exempt on the basis that if there are problems, the licence can be reviewed.
The government airily dismissed musicians' concerns when the bill was debated in parliament. Ministers promised the legislation would lead to "an explosion of live music" and that a simple "tick-box" application would suffice.
But licensees are now finding that applying to retain even a modest level of live music is time-consuming and expensive. They must pay to advertise the application publicly, face potential public hearings if there are objections and comply with costly licence conditions.
In contrast, where jukeboxes are already provided, the new regime automatically allows their continued use without
entertainment licensing. Many licensees may decide not to bother with live music.        ,~~
The act provides the culture secretary, Tessa Jowell, with the power to change the descriptions of entertainment. We call on her to come to the only sensible conclusion, that legislation deemed adequate to control bars packed with sports fans is also fully adequate to regulate live music. She should use her powers to give live music in bars the same freedom accorded to big-screen broadcasts.
Jamie Cullum, Jacqui and Alec Dankworth, Digby Fairweather, Humphrey Lyttelton, Charles Alexander (Jazzwise), Guy Barker, Alan Bates (Candid Records), Hamish Birchall, Campbell Burnap, Marc Connor (Air MTM), Gary Crosby, Tony Dudley-Evans, Dan Fleming, Eddie Harvey, Jon Hiseman, Barbara Thompson, Chris Hodgkins (Jazz Services), Janine Irons (Dune Music), Claire Martin, Simon Mehigan QC (Paterson's Licensing Acts), Jon Newey (Jazzwise Magazine), Stuart Nicholson, Steve Rubie, Seb Scotney (JazzDev), Martin Taylor, Oliver Weindling (Babel Records)


New live music rules could halve number of gigs
Owen Gibson and Charlotte Higgins Tuesday August 2, 2005
Government rules designed to make it easier for venues to tap into a burgeoning demand for live music threaten to more than halve the number of concerts taking place in the UK owing to inertia among owners in applying for the new licences.
Artists who began their careers in front of tiny audiences on pub stages, including Razorlight, Ray Davies of the Kinks and James Blunt, number one in the album and singles charts, yesterday spoke out in an effort to make venue owners aware of the scale of the problem.
Some of Britain's most prominent jazz musicians, including Jamie Cullum, Humphrey Lyttelton and Jacqui and Alec Dankworth, also protested yesterday, saying the process of applying for licences was so time consuming and expensive -despite the government's promise of a "tick box" application - that pub, bar and restaurant owners were likely simply to give up.
New research shows that almost seven in 10 owners or managers of small music venues are unaware of the implications of the 2003 Licensing Act, which requires them to reapply for their live music licence by August 6.
The research, sponsored by Glenfiddich, warned that at least 56,700 venues face possible closure if they do not reapply by the deadline. Almost half of those those currently stage live music, and it is predicted that the number of gigs taking place every day in the UK could fall from 4,500 to fewer than 2,250.
Local councils yesterday warned that unless venues reapplied for their licences by the deadline, they would lose their status and be forced to go through the time-consuming process of new applicants.
"We are very concerned that despite our best efforts to inform everyone affected, thousands of businesses may be unaware this new legislation applies to them," said Peter Barrow, head of licensing at Birmingham city council.
In Camden, long seen as a hub of the London live music scene, only 38% of venues have responded, while in Manchester, Newcastle and Liverpool the volume of respondents has been even lower at 24%, 25% and 28% respectively.
The Licensing Act 2003 was intended to make it easier and more economical for pubs and other small venues to apply for the necessary paperwork. But it also requires some small venues that did not previously need licences to apply for them for the first time.
Local authorities and a government body, the Live Music Forum, are to redouble their efforts to make clear the urgency of the situation. In October last year, a report commissioned by the forum found that three-quarters of licensees felt they had not been told enough about the impact of the act.
The prospective logjam comes at a time when live music is considered to be on a high, with stadium gigs by the likes of U2 and music festivals selling out more quickly than ever, and a new generation of bands building their fanbase through playing live.
With record sales stalling, playing live has become more important to the bottom line. The live music industry as a whole is worth 467m, according to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, a rise of 50% on 1997.
Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005


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