Mudcat Café message #827917 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #53667   Message #827917
Posted By: The Shambles
16-Nov-02 - 04:15 PM
Thread Name: PELs UK Music needs your HELP
Subject: RE: PELs UK Music needs your HELP
This from Hamish Birchall.

Yesterday the government published the Licensing Bill which, if enacted, would criminalise the provision of most live music in England and Wales, unless first licensed.

As predicted, broadcast entertainment on satellite or terrestrial tv is exempt.

The proposals represent the most significant increase in live music licensing for over 100 years. According to Culture Minister Kim Howells, this is necessary because 'one musician with modern amplification can make more noise than three without'. But since most noise complaints are nothing to do with music (acoustic or amplified), and even one unamplified performer would become illegal unless licensed, this rationale doesn't quite hang together. Anyway here is the link to the Bill:

Schedule 1, 'Provision of Regulated Entertainment', lists and defines what constitutes licensable live music and much more besides. Temporary permissions are covered in Part 5.

Premises licences, which include the option for licensable entertainments, are dealt with in Part 3.

No fees have been published yet, but guidance notes available on the DCMS website repeat the estimates contained in the licensing White Paper of April 2000.

Neither the extensive media coverage or Parliamentary support for reform has influenced the small clique of senior civil servants and Ministers responsible for this legislation.

Both the Musicians' Union and the Arts Council argued forcibly against the huge increase in licensing control, and jointly submitted amendments to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the recent consultation on the draft legislation. But the DCMS rejected them. In that respect lobbying has failed.

It may yet succeed, however, if sympathetic Lords support these amendments (the Bill is going first to the House of Lords). All my efforts, those of the Arts Council working party, and those of supporting organisations, will now be focussed on this.

In practical terms, this is what the Licensing Bill proposes for live music:

Pubs, bars, restaurants etc
110,000 licensed premises lose their automatic right to host one or two live musicians.
A form of this licensing exemption can be traced back to 1899.

Regular performance by even one musician, professional or amateur, amplified or unamplified, to be illegal without licensing permission.

Permission requires approval by police, fire service, environmental health dept, and local residents.

Local authority grants authorisation as part of 'premises licence' and may impose 'necessary' conditions (for public safety, crime and disorder, prevention of nuisance, and protection of children from harm).

If granted, the permission lasts for lifetime of business but may be revoked if noise/crime and disorder problems.

Licence fees to be standardised (at lower levels than now) and set centrally by Secretary of State.

Fee to be no different if licensable entertainment provided.

If live music not authorised, live music to be illegal (save spontaneous renditions of Happy Birthday etc)

Licence terms may be varied later if live music not chosen at outset.

Variation process essentially the same as initial application (see above). A fee will be chargeable.

Where live music not allowed under terms of premises licence, there is an option for up to 5 temporary permissions in a year, granted by a simple notification process (for a fee) provided under 500 people attend.

Private functions
The distinction between public and private events is blurred. Until now most private gigs have been exempt from public entertainment licensing. Most gigs on public land have been exempt. This would no longer be the case. Many, if not most, performances in this context would become illegal unless licensed, either via the premises licence, a club premises certificate, or a temporary event notice.

The wording of the Bill suggests that if a musician is hired to perform at a private event, this alone is sufficient to trigger the licensing requirement (this was hinted at in letters from Howells to MPs: 'it is clear that if a performer is paid, then the performance is public'.)

Any hitherto private performance 'with a view to raising money for charity' to become illegal unless licensed.

Live music in private clubs no longer exempt.

All public concerts in churches to become illegal unless licensed.

This provision extends legislation that currently applies only in London to the rest of England and Wales. This is very strange, because the London legislation dates from 1963, while the outside London legislation dates from 1982.

Music 'for the purposes of, or for purposes incidental to a religious meeting or service' is exempt.

New concept of 'entertainment facilities' as licensing criterion.
This is another strange provision. It seems that providing 'facilities for enabling persons to take part in entertainment', such as making music and/or dancing, is now to be illegal unless licensed.

It is a confusing part of the Bill, but my reading of this is that recording studios, rehearsal studios, or practice rooms may be caught. It might also include musical instruments, record decks, microphones, amplifiers, PAs etc etc. I am seeking clarification from licensing lawyers on this one.

Bandwagons exempt!
Curiouser and curiouser: live music performed in, or presumably on, moving vehicles is exempt!

Recorded music - limited exemption
Recorded music is legal without being licensed 'to the extent that it is incidental to some other activity which is not itself - (a) a description of entertainment falling within paragraph 2, or (b) the provision of entertainment facilities'.

In other words, I think pub jukeboxes would be exempt, provided they weren't next to a dance floor (but how do you define a dance floor???)

If you can find time to read the legislation, particularly Schedule 1, I would be very grateful for your comments.

Any musician lawyers out there: your input could be particularly valuable.