ColumnsPaul Stokes

Guest column - Cheers! Why staging pub gigs no longer means a redtape hangover

ColumnsPaul Stokes
Guest column - Cheers! Why staging pub gigs no longer means a redtape hangover
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Late last week the Live Music Bill cleared parliament putting it on course to become an act of law later this year when it receives royal assent. Crucially the new legislation changes the rules and licensing requirements for small venues like pubs, allowing them to stage gigs without having to go through the red tape and costs of obtaining an entertainment license. UK Music, an umbrella organisation representing the collective interests of the UK's commercial music industry, helped lobby for the change and in a guest column its acting chief executive Jo Dipple (pictured above celebrating the bill's success with Don Foster MP and Lord Tim Clement-Jones at the House Of Lords) explains why it will have a massive impact on the UK's live music scene. There was high drama in the House Of Commons last Friday afternoon (20 January), when the Live Music Bill cleared its report stage and third reading with literally seconds to spare. Introduced by Liberal Democrat peer Tim Clement-Jones and supported by Don Foster MP, it should now be a formality for the Bill to reach Royal Assent.

It is exceptional for any Private Members Bill to complete its parliamentary journey to the statute books (BBC political correspondent Mark D'Arcy described the Live Music Bill's passage as "extraordinary") but as a result of this rare occurrence small venues in England and Wales will soon no longer need local authority permission if they want to host live music performances.

This is fantastic news and something UK Music (along with everyone from beer and pub representatives to the Culture Media & Sport Select Committee) has been advocating for some time. We hope it will give a massive boost to grass-roots live music, and for new and emerging talent in particular.

Certainly, there is little doubt that the current Licensing Act has been detrimental to music - stacking unnecessary obstacles and costs in front of any pub or village hall looking to host gigs. Obtaining permission from a local council's licensing department can be prohibitively expensive and involve headache-inducing paperwork. As a result of these disincentives, fewer are hosting live music nights.

Culturally and socially, this is less than ideal.

It also has a profound impact on the UK's music scene. British acts might be responsible for around 10 percent of global recorded sales, but our success is not a god-given right - it is wholly dependent on a cycle of new and innovative artists coming through.

And while digital distribution has opened all manner of opportunities for musicians to connect with an audience online, this is only half the story. The ability to play live remains massively important, and it is in the humble environs of pubs and village halls where tomorrow's bands and artists learn their craft and gain experience. This is where dues are paid and risks are taken in front of an audience. The situation is no different for Adele or Florence + The Machine as it was for The Beatles or Stones.

It is at this layer where the Live Music Bill should have most impact. Every town in this country should have a thriving grass-roots scene. Or to put it more simply: more venues offering more opportunities will benefit more musicians in generations to come. Jo Dipple, Acting Chief Executive UK Music

Head to Ukmusic.org for more.