What is the UK live music census?

The UK’s first ever live music census, covering all genres and taking a broad definition of live music to include events featuring DJs.

nationwide online survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences is a UK and world first that will help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the industry is facing, and inform policy to help it flourish.

The Liverpool Live Music Census runs for 24 hours from noon on 1st June – volunteers will be out and about across the city collecting data about audiences and venues.

Online surveys for the Liverpool Live Music Census are open until 30th June 2017 – respondents are offered the chance to enter a prize draw to win tickets for the British Music Experience, Liverpool (T&Cs apply).

Please note that you will not be entered into the prize draw for the Liverpool Live Music Census unless you complete a survey after 1st June and specify Liverpool as the city for which you are completing an online survey.

Note that the prize draw to win an iPad and concert/festival tickets is now closed (closed 31st May).


Which survey should I take?

Choose the button which best describes your relationship to live music – you are allowed to answer more than one survey type (audience, musician, venue, promoter) but only one entry per person is allowed per survey type.

Musicians: If you are a musician and an audience member, you may wish to fill out both surveys. The surveys have been designed for both professional and amateur musicians, and whilst we are certainly interested in the economic value of live music, we are also interested in its cultural and social value; there are questions in the survey about this and about musicians’ local experiences.

Orchestras/music societies: please complete the promoter survey and encourage your musicians/members to complete the musician survey as an individual.

Venues/promoters: Sometimes the line between ‘venue’ and ‘promoter’ is blurred. We recommend that if your expenses include venue hire for your events then you might wish to complete the promoter survey. If you are a venue which also promotes outside your own venue then there is a question about this in the venue survey. Churches/places of worship are listed separately as a venue type in our list of venues and we would certainly encourage churches to complete our venue surveys. We are also interested in open mic clubs – we’re interested in all live music activity and recognise that open mics can be very important places for both audiences and performers.

Other live music stakeholders: For the first ever UK Live Music Census, our focus was on four groups – musicians, audiences, venues, promoters – as this is what we have been funded for and have the resources to do. If you work in the sector and would still like to be included in this Census, please take the musician survey as there is a question in there which asks whether you play any role within the music industries other than as an artist, e.g. production crew, and many of the questions will be relevant to you.


Why are we doing a Live Music Census?

Live music is popular across the UK, and has become increasingly important to the music industries, overtaking recording revenues in 2008. Yet recent years have been difficult for venues. These challenges are felt particularly keenly by the smaller venues, clubs and pubs which provide for local musicians and audiences, and which serve as the training ground for future headline acts.

There is widespread interest in the live music sector, and there have been numerous reports assessing its value produced by industry organisations, policy bodies and the charity sector. Nevertheless, there is still a gap in our knowledge about the specific relationship between the value of live music on the one hand and the current challenges facing venues across the UK on the other.

Accounts of live music activity vary according to where they have been produced, by whom, and by what method. This variation can make it difficult to make meaningful comparisons across cities, and across different types of music and different types of venue.

Our project will address these issues directly. The UK Live Music Census will be a collaboration between music industry organisations, policy bodies and leading academic live music researchers. Working with key personnel in the live music sector, and building on the project team’s pilot study of a census of live music in Edinburgh, we will provide the first account of live music in the UK that covers the full range of venues and that includes all types of musical activity – from amateur to top-flight professional.

What are we going to do?

The UK Live Music Census uses two methods. The first is the national online surveys which are for audiences, musicians, venues and promoters and are open until 31st May. We need people across the UK to fill these in so that we can build a national picture of live music activity. A key element of our data gathering will be these larger surveys so we sincerely hope that as many venues, promoters, and audiences and musicians as possible across the UK fill in the surveys.

The second method is the snapshot censuses, which will give us rich data about particular cities, including Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford (all covered by our core funding), Brighton, Leeds, Liverpool and Southampton. Our affiliates at the British and Irish of Modern Music Institute (BIMM) in Brighton, Leeds Beckett University, University of Liverpool/Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts/Liverpool John Moores University and Southampton Solent University will be running Censuses in those cities. These snapshot censuses were organised by universities and researchers based in each of these cities which demonstrated capacity to organise the volunteers needed to carry out research on the snapshot census date of 9th March 2017 (Liverpool’s Census is on 1st June 2017).

What do we hope to achieve?

Our previous research shows that the way that different local councils deal with live music and venue licensing can have a profound effect on live music provision, but also that it is difficult for them to make informed decisions given the variety of approaches used in previous reports.

By bringing together representatives of the music industry, policymakers and academics to help to design the surveys and promote them nationwide, this project will assist all of us by providing a method and framework we can all agree on for assessing the scope and value of live music in the UK. This will be a huge step forward for all concerned in working to safeguard and develop the cultural and economic well-being of this most valuable facet of local character in towns and cities across the country.


Matt Brennan

Dr Matt Brennan

Principal Investigator

University of Edinburgh

Matt’s current research focuses on the music industries - and live music in particular - and the social history of the drum kit and drummers.

Martin Cloonan

Professor Martin Cloonan


University of Glasgow

Martin's research interests are in the Politics of Popular Music, an area in which he has a number of publications, and in issues concerning censorship and freedom of expression.

Adam Behr

Dr Adam Behr


Newcastle University

Adam’s research covers the politics and sociology of music, particularly popular music, and the music industries.

Emma Webster

Dr Emma Webster

Research Associate / Visiting Researcher

University of Edinburgh / Oxford Brookes University

Emma’s research interests are in live music and festivals, on which she has also written reports for the live music and festivals industries.

Project Partners

The Musicians’ Union (MU) is a globally-respected organisation which represents over 30,000 musicians working in all sectors of the music business.

Music Venue Trust is a charity created in January 2014 that exists to protect, secure & develop UK Grassroots Live Music Venues.

UK Music

UK Music is a campaigning and lobbying group, which represents every part of the UK recorded and live music industry.

The project also has a broad advisory board with significant international representation from academic, industry and policy spheres


Live Music Resources

Membership organisations for musicians

Attitude Is Everything – charity which works to improve Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry
British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) – supports and protects the professional interests of songwriters, composers and lyricists of all genres
Equity – trade union representing artists from across the entire spectrum of arts and entertainment
Featured Artists Coalition – campaigns for the protection of UK performers’ and musicians’ rights
Incorporated Society of Musicians – professional association for musicians: performers, composers, teachers and more
Making Music – association of amateur and semi-professional musicians including choirs and orchestra
Musicians’ Union – trade union which represents musicians working on all sectors of the music business
Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) – collects and distributes money on behalf of performers and record companies for the use of their recorded music
PRS for Music (MCPS + PRS) – collects and distributes money on behalf of songwriters, composers and music publishers, for the use of their musical compositions and lyrics

Funding Bodies for Live Music

Arts Council England – the national development agency for the arts in England, providing funding for a range of arts activities
Arts Council of Northern Ireland – as above, for Northern Ireland
Arts Council Wales – as above, for Wales
Big Lottery Fund – gives grants to organisations in the UK to help improve their communities
Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) – BPI (British Phonographic Industry) / UKTI (UK Trade & Investment) – supports emerging artists, bands, DJs, performers, etc. that have had their first success in the UK and are ready to try and break into an overseas market
British Council
Creative Europe Desk UK – funding for collaborative projects in media and culture
Creative Scotland – the national development agency for the arts in Scotland
Help Musicians UK – independent UK charity for professional musicians of all genres, from starting out through to retirement
The Prince’s Trust – help for young people to train, learn or help get a job
PRS for Music Foundation – the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent
Youth Music – young persons music charity set up in 1999 to promote music making opportunities and to provide advice to those with the least access

Information for Venues and Promoters

Attitude Is Everything – charity which works to improve Deaf and disabled people’s access to live music by working in partnership with audiences, artists and the music industry
Julie’s Bicycle – not-for-profit organisation working with the arts and creative industries to make environmental sustainability a core component of their work
Music Venues Alliance – a free-to-join, informal association of Grassroots Music Venues and other organisations/individuals who are passionate about this part of the music industry and have pledged their support to the work of the Music Venue Trust.
Music Venue Trust – charity that aims to protect, support and improve independent live music venues in the UK


Definition of a Live Music Event

We appreciate that there will be some grey areas as to what constitutes a live music event but we are using the following definition: a live music event is one which musicians (including DJs) provide music for audiences and dancers gathering in public places where the music is the principal purpose of that gathering.

For a live music activity where the purpose is less clear – a singer in a restaurant or a DJ in a nightclub, for example – it will be included in the Census if the event is advertised as a live music event (e.g. jazz at the Ashmolean Restaurant) and/or the performer is named (e.g. Carl Cox at Fabric).

It is also worth bearing in mind that a live music event, by its nature, needs a place in which to happen, performers, an audience, a catalyst — someone or something to bring these things together — and appropriate technology to enable the event to happen, e.g. instruments, microphones (Frith 2012), hence the live music activity in question should also have these five elements.

Finally, does the event pass the elephant test, i.e. would the promoter/organiser, audience, and/or performer consider it to be a live music event?

Notes on Live Music Venue Types

We appreciate that there will be grey areas and some venues have more than one function; however, the following should cover the majority of venues used for live music for which the primary function of the venue should be used:-

  • Bar, pub (20-100) – main focus is alcohol sales with occasional music
  • Restaurant/café with music (20-100) – main focus is food with occasional music
  • Small music venue (<350) – dedicated music venue, mainly standing gigs[1]
  • Medium music venue (351-650) – dedicated music venue, mainly standing gigs
  • Large music venue (651-5,000) – dedicated music venue, mainly standing gigs
  • Concert hall (200-3,000) – dedicated music venue, mainly seated gigs
  • Arts centre (200-2,000) – multi-arts, multi-purpose venue
  • Theatre/opera house (500-2,500) – mainly theatre with some live music/opera
  • Church/place of worship
  • Hotel or function room
  • Small club (<500) – dedicated club, mainly for dancing
  • Large club (>500) – dedicated club, mainly for dancing
  • Other (20-1,000, incl. town/village hall, church, community centre, student union) – venues which are used for live music occasionally
  • Arena (5,000-25,000) – large, covered, multi-purpose arena or conference centre
  • Stadium (5,000-100,000) – large, usually uncovered, main purpose usually for sports
  • Outdoor – small (<25,000)
  • Outdoor – medium (25,000-50,000 per day)
  • Outdoor – large (>50,000 per day)

Also refer to Music Venue Trust’s definition of grassroots venues in the Mayor of London’s Rescue Plan (2015).

Promoter-artist deals

  • Pay-to-play – artist pays the promoter/venue to perform
  • Ticket allocation – promoter organises show and artist is expected to sell tickets
  • Self-promotion – artist sells tickets and takes the risk on the show
  • Free – no monetary payment but artist may receive expenses
  • In-kind – artist receives a non-monetary ‘payment’
  • Busking – paid by donation
  • Promoter-artist split – promoter takes door proceeds, recuperates costs of gig, splits remainder with the artist
  • Profit minus guarantee – if no profit, the artist still gets guaranteed fee, but if profit, then promoter deducts guarantee and pays artist the balance
  • Flat fee – the artist receives a guaranteed set amount of money no matter how many people attend
  • Guaranteed fee plus profit – the artist takes a percentage of the profit on top of the guaranteed fee
  • Salaried – e.g. as part of an ensemble

Prize Draw Terms & Conditions

This prize draw is operated by the UK Live Music Census (the “Promoter”). The UK Live Music Census is a new project between the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, run by members of the Live Music Exchange, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

  1. The prize draw is open to all UK residents aged 18 years or over, except employees of the Promoter, their families, agents or any third party directly associated with administration of the UK Live Music Census and/or the prize draw.
  2. The prize draw is free to enter and no purchase is necessary.
  3. All entries must be submitted via the SmartSurvey website. Respondents are permitted to answer more than survey type (audience, musician, venue, promoter) but only one entry per person is permitted per survey type.
  4. The opening date for entries is 12 noon on Thursday 9th March 2017. The closing date of the prize draw is 12 noon on Wednesday 31st May 2017 (NB amended from Monday 8th May 2017). Entries received after this time will not be accepted.
  5. The Promoter accepts no responsibility for entries not successfully completed due to a technical fault technical malfunction, computer hardware or software failure, satellite, network or server failure of any kind.
  6. A winner for each of the prizes detailed below will be chosen by random draw performed by a computer process on Thursday 1st June (“Draw Date” – NB amended from Tuesday 9th May 2017).
  7. The winners will receive one of the following only: an iPad mini 2 (32GB, silver or space grey, Wi-Fi only, with no accessories) or equivalent model at the Draw Date OR a pair of weekend camping tickets to Leeds Festival 2017 OR a pair of weekend camping tickets to V Festival Chelmsford 2017 OR a pair of weekend camping tickets to V Festival Stafford 2017 OR a pair of general admission tickets to Justin Bieber at BST Hyde Park (2nd July 2017) OR a pair of general admission tickets to The Killers at BST Hyde Park (8 July 2017). The Promoter reserves the right to replace the prize(s) with an alternative prize of equal or higher value if circumstances beyond the Promoter’s control makes it necessary to do so.
  8. The winner will be notified by email (using details provided at entry) before Wednesday 7th June (NB amended from Friday 12th May 2017) and must then provide a postal address to claim their prize. If a winner does not respond to the Promoter within 30 days of being notified by the Promoter, then the winner’s prize will be forfeited and the Promoter will be entitled to select another winner in accordance with the process described above.
  9. The prize will be sent to the winner by post within 60 days of being notified of their win.
  10. The prize for the winner is non-exchangeable, non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered. The tickets will be available a couple of weeks before the event, and should only be used by the competition winner and not resold.
  11. The decision of the Promoter regarding any aspect of the prize draw is final and binding and no correspondence will be entered into about it.
  12. Participants are deemed to have accepted and agreed to be bound by these terms and conditions upon entry. The Promoter reserves the right to refuse entry, or refuse to award the prize to anyone in breach of these terms and conditions.
  13. The Promoter reserves the right to hold void, cancel, suspend, or amend the promotion where it becomes necessary to do so.
  14. Insofar as is permitted by law, the Promoter, its agents or distributors will not in any circumstances be responsible or liable to compensate the winner or accept any liability for any loss, damage, personal injury or death occurring as a result of taking up the prize except where it is caused by the negligence of the Promoter, its agents or distributors or that of their employees. Your statutory rights are not affected.
  15. Winners may be required to participate in publicity related to the prize draw which may include the publication of their name and photograph in any media.
  16. Personal data supplied during the course of this promotion may be passed on to third party suppliers only insofar as required for fulfilment/delivery/arrangement of the prize.
  17. The prize draw will be governed by Scots law and entrants to the prize draw submit to the jurisdiction of the Scottish courts.
  18. The Promoter can be contacted at uklivemusiccensus@gmail.com


From October 2017, you will be able to download the Live Music Census Toolkit so that you can carry out a census in your home town – this will include among other things a ‘how to’ guide, timeline, checklists, glossary, a guide on how to gather listings data, plus templates for press releases and funding applications. Check back in October to download your free guide or contact us via the form below.


Adam Behr on BBC Introducing in the North East with Nick Roberts (11/03/17 – 1 hour, 21mins, 30 secs in)

Adam Behr on BBC Radio Kent, Dominic King Show (10/03/17 – 1 hours, 33mins, 35 secs in)

Matt Brennan on BBC Breakfast (BBC One, 10/03/17 – 46 mins in)

Matt Brennan on Radio 4’s Today programme (BBC Radio 4, 10/03/17 – 1 hr 47 mins in)

Matt Brennan on Good Morning Scotland (BBC Radio Scotland, 10/03/17 – 1 hr 57 mins in)

How big is live music really? (BBC News, 10/03/17)

Martin Cloonan on the Stephen Jardine Programme (BBC Radio Scotland, 10/03/17 – 1 hr 31 mins in)

Adam Behr on Good Morning Wales (BBC Radio Wales, 10/03/17 – 2 hrs 24 mins in)

Emma Webster on Howard Bentham / Charles Nove Sits In (BBC Radio Oxford, 10/03/17 – 1 hr 37 mins in)

First ever live music census to be carried out across UK (The Irish News, 09/03/17)

Adam Behr on Gilly Hope’s show (BBC Radio Newcastle, 09/03/17 – 32 mins in)

Adam Behr on Lisa Shaw’s show (BBC Radio Newcastle, 09/03/17 – 1 hr 10 mins in)

Working to prevent the death of live music venues (Channel Four News, 09/03/17)

When did you last hear live music? Stand up and be counted (The Guardian, 08/03/17)

The UK’s rich musical heritage is threatened by a live music culture under pressure (The Conversation, 08/03/17)


Click here for more press coverage of the UK Live Music Census