What is the UK live music census?

The UK’s first ever national live music census took place in spring 2017: for 24 hours from noon on Thursday 9th March, an army of volunteers went out and about to live music events in Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton and Brighton (and 1st June in Liverpool), from pub gigs to massed choirs to arena concerts. A nationwide online survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences was online from March until June.

The intention was to help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the sector is facing and inform policy to help it flourish. The census covers all genres and takes a broad definition of live music to include events featuring DJs.

The UK Live Music Census was organised by researchers from the Live Music Exchange research group, a collaboration across the universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and the University of Turku (Finland). In 2015, the same researchers organised a pilot live music census in Edinburgh, inspired by work in Melbourne by Dobe Newton in 2012.

THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO COMPLETED THE SURVEY AND TO OUR INTREPID VOLUNTEERS WHO COLLECTED DATA IN THE CASE STUDY CITIES.

The full report and executive summary was published on 16th February 2018.

If you would like to carry out your own local live music census, download the free Live Music Census toolkit.

About

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 according to figures published by PRS for Music. 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 addressed these issues directly. The UK Live Music Census has been 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 have provided 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 professional.

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.

What did we do?

The UK Live Music Census used two main methods. The first was nationwide online surveys which were for audiences, musicians, venues and promoters.

The second method was the snapshot censuses, which gave us rich data about particular cities including Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead, 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 ran Censuses in those cities.

For a full account of the methodology see the full project report.

What do we hope to have achieved?

The UK Live Music Census 2017 builds on previous work on the economic value of the music industries, including live music, conducted by UK Music and PRS for Music, and on the current state of play for smaller live music venues by the Music Venue Trust. The census breaks new ground by focusing on the social and cultural value of live music specifically – which have at times taken something of a back seat to economic analyses – to synthesise these interdependent aspects of the UK’s live music sector in the first nationwide live music census. As Lord Clement-Jones, the peer who championed the 2012 Live Music Act, said before the project started:

“Live music is facing a number of challenges at the moment, from venues closing down to the threat of increased business rates. However, data about the sector has so far been relatively scarce and mostly anecdotal, and so the much needed data collected by UK Live Music Census will help us protect live music going into the future.
As a result of the Census, then, we now have a methodology which can be developed going forward, a rich dataset of quantitative and qualitative data about four key stakeholders, and some interesting and useful findings about the sector. The data has enabled us to make suggestions for evidence-based policy which will help to protect the sector going into the future, as well as a number of avenues for further research.”

As a result of the census, then, we now have a methodology which can be developed going forward, a rich dataset of quantitative and qualitative data about four key sets of stakeholders, and some interesting and useful findings about the sector. The data has enabled us to make suggestions for evidence-based policy which will help to protect the sector going into the future, as well as a number of avenues for further research.

We hope that this project will prove a useful starting point for future census exercises and will enable historians from the future to be able to look back at the state of live music in the UK in 2017. Just as population censuses have proved to have immense value beyond their initial remit, so too we hope that a regular UK live music census will help to better chart the ever-shifting trends within the sector. In doing so, it will allow researchers and policy-makers alike to better understand how and why live music continues to be valued, and the challenges faced by those who create and enjoy it, as we move into 2018 and beyond.

Team

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

Co-Investigator

University of Turku, Finland (previously University of Glasgow)

Professor Martin Cloonan is Director of the Turku Insitute for Advanced Studies (TIAS, www.utu.fi/tias) at the University of Turku, Finland. His research interests include the politics of popular music and issues concerning regulation, censorship and freedom of expression.

Adam Behr

Dr Adam Behr

Co-Investigator

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

University of Edinburgh

Emma’s research interests are in live music and festivals and about 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

Report

UKLMC executive summary front coverDownload the UK Live Music Census full report (PDF)

Download the UK Live Music Census full report CLEAR PRINT (PDF)

Download UK Live Music Census 2017 executive summary (PDF)

Download UK Live Music Census 2017 executive summary LARGE PRINT (PDF)

Profile interviews

Affiliate live music census reports

Download the Liverpool Live Music Census 2017 report

Toolkit

If you would like to carry out your own local or national live music census, download the free Live Music Census Toolkit here. This includes a ‘how to’ guide, timeline, checklists, glossary, a guide on how to gather listings data, plus templates for press releases and funding applications.

Download the UK Live Music Census ‘how to’ guide (PDF)

Download the UK Live Music Census ‘how to’ guide LARGE PRINT (PDF)

Click the links below to download the surveys and appendices, including a guide to the economic methodology in ‘Date analysis and final report’ and ‘Example economic methodology’. All documents are saved in both Microsoft and Open Doc formats.

Surveys (Microsoft format)

Note that the survey templates sometimes include text highlighted in yellow that you will need to amend and customise yourself. These survey questions were devised in conjunction with a number of stakeholders within the UK’s live music sector, including our partners on the project, Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust and UK Music, and organisations like Attitude is Everything, Julie’s Bicycle, and PRS for Music. The questions were further refined following the UK Live Music Census in March 2017.  They are not intended to be prescriptive and you may wish to adapt or include questions that are most relevant to your local area and/or project partners. As the surveys are extensive and thorough, you may also wish exclude those questions which are not relevant to your area, particularly those marked ‘cont.’ and where the respondent is asked if they are willing to answer more questions on a particular topic. Bear in mind, however, that using similar sets of survey questions allows for more substantive comparisons across censuses.

Audience interview survey (Word)
Audience online survey (Word)
Musician online survey (Word)
Promoter online survey (Word)
Venue observation survey (Word)
Venue online survey (Word)
Venue LONG follow-up survey (Word) – hard-copy version of the venue online survey
Venue SHORT follow-up survey (Word)

 

Surveys (Open Doc format)

Note that the survey templates sometimes include text highlighted in yellow that you will need to amend and customise yourself. These survey questions were devised in conjunction with a number of stakeholders within the UK’s live music sector, including our partners on the project, Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust and UK Music, and organisations like Attitude is Everything, Julie’s Bicycle, and PRS for Music. The questions were further refined following the UK Live Music Census in March 2017.  They are not intended to be prescriptive and you may wish to adapt or include questions that are most relevant to your local area and/or project partners. As the surveys are extensive and thorough, you may also wish exclude those questions which are not relevant to your area, particularly those marked ‘cont.’ and where the respondent is asked if they are willing to answer more questions on a particular topic. Bear in mind, however, that using similar sets of survey questions allows for more substantive comparisons across censuses.

Audience interview survey (ODT)
Audience online survey (ODT)
Musician online survey (ODT)
Promoter online survey (ODT)
Venue observation survey (ODT)
Venue online survey (ODT)
Venue LONG follow-up survey (ODT) – hard-copy version of venue online survey
Venue SHORT follow-up survey (ODT)

 

Appendices (Microsoft format)

 

Appendices (Open Doc format)

Glossary

Definition of a Live Music Event

We appreciate that there will be some grey areas as to what constitutes a live music event but, after consultation with stakeholders, we agreed on the following definition for the UK Live Music Census:

A live music event is one in 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 was 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 such as instruments or microphones.[1]

The live music activity in question should therefore 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?

[1] See Frith, Simon (2012) Live Music 101 #1 – The Materialist Approach to Live Music – Simon Frith. Live Music Exchange, 2 July.

 

Notes on Live Music Venue Types

The following list of venue types should cover the majority of venues used for live music although bear in mind that there will be grey areas. The list was devised and developed for the UK Live Music Census but you may need to adjust it depending on your location. Bear in mind, however, that using the same categories allows for more substantive comparisons across censuses. Some venues will have more than one function but you should consider the primary function of the venue where possible.

  • Arena (5,000-20,000): large, covered, multi-purpose arena or conference centre
  • Arts centre (200-2,000): multi-arts, multi-purpose venue
  • Bar, pub with music (20-100): main focus is alcohol sales with occasional music
  • Church/place of worship: place of worship which hosts live music events beyond its regular services
  • Concert hall/auditorium (200-3,000): dedicated music venue, mainly seated gigs
  • Hotel or function room
  • Large music venue (651-5,000): dedicated music venue, mainly standing gigs
  • Large nightclub (>500): dedicated nightclub, mainly for dancing
  • Medium music venue (351-650): dedicated music venue, mainly standing gigs
  • Outdoor (greenspace), e.g. parks used for festivals
  • Outdoor (urban), e.g. particular sites used regularly by buskers
  • Restaurant/café with music (20-100): main focus is food with occasional music
  • Small music venue (<350): dedicated music venue, mainly standing gigs[2]
  • Small nightclub (<500): dedicated nightclub, mainly for dancing
  • Social club/community centre/village hall/sports hall: meeting place, generally formed around a common interest, occupation, activity or location
  • Stadium (5,000-100,000): large, usually uncovered, main purpose usually for sports
  • Student union/university building
  • Theatre/opera house (500-2,500): mainly theatre with some live music/opera
  • Other (20-1,000): venues which are used for live music occasionally and do not fit into the above categories

[2] Also see Music Venue Trust’s work for further detail on small, medium, and large music venues in Mayor of London’s Music Venues Taskforce (2015) London’s grassroots music venues rescue plan.

 

Promoter-artist deals

The following is a list of the type of deals which may be made between artist and promoter/venues:-

  • 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

 

Disclaimer: This toolkit was produced by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Newcastle University (‘we’). Note that this is a guide only and, while we encourage people to use it if they believe it will be helpful, ultimately the live music census that you run is your own and this toolkit is provided on an ‘as is’ basis. You can amend the methods according to suit your circumstances or not, but we accept no responsibility for, or any liability arising from, any census organised using this toolkit or from any other use of this toolkit. No warranties, promises and/or representations of any kind, whether expressed or implied, are given as to the nature, standard, accuracy or otherwise of the toolkit, nor the suitability or otherwise of the toolkit for your particular circumstances.

Resources

Live Music Resources

Membership organisations for musicians


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) / DIT (Department for International Trade) – 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
UK Music – industry-funded body which represents the collective interests of the recorded, published and live arms of the British music industry

News

First UK live music census warns of threats to small venues (The Independent, 17/02/18)

Good Morning Scotland news bulletin 160218 (BBC Radio Scotland, 16/02/18, 5’19)

Census highlights problems facing live music venues (BBC Scotland, 16/02/18)

Third of music venues under financial threat, national survey shows (Sky News, 16/02/18)

Beverley Whitrick [of Music Venue Trust] speaking on Sky News 16th Feb 2018 (Sky News, 16/02/18)

Small music venues face final curtain (The Times, 16/02/18)

Independent live music venues under threat as property developers close in, census warns (The i, 16/02/18)

Glasgow’s live music scene brings in £80m a year and supports 2,500 jobs, census shows (iNews, 16/02/18)

Fresh fears over future of live music venues (The Scotsman, 16/02/18)

Fears over long-term future over Scotland’s legendary small music venues (The Herald, 16/02/18)

Property development is having a negative impact on one third of Britain’s small venues (NME, 16/02/18)

UK Live Music Census shows pressure on venues (IQ, 16/02/18)

New report confirms issues faced by grassroots venues (CMU, 16/02/18)

UK’s first live music census warns of threats to small venues (Music Week, 16/02/18)

Live music census pushes resale investigations (TheTicketingBusiness, 16/02/18)

UK’s First Live Music Census Reveals Ongoing Threats to Small Venues (Musicians’ Union, 16/02/18)

LGA responds to UK live music census (Local Government Association, 16/02/18)

One in three small venues affected by property development, report finds (M Magazine, 16/02/18)

Live music census strikes note of caution over future of venues (Record of the Day, 16/02/18)

Third of music venues under financial threat, national survey shows (Gorgeous FM, 16/02/18)

Threats to future of music venues revealed in first live music census (Milngavie Herald, 16/02/18)

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