Thursday, 6 January 2011

Keeping it live

The decline in live music in public places dates back to the rising popularity of the phonograph early in the last century. Since then numerous inventions and developments have seen the trend continue.

Pubs in the UK have also been in decline for years. The smoking ban of 2007 has been held up as a major cause but changing lifestyles and cheap supermarket booze are probably just as much to blame. So pubs, like the present government, are looking for ways to cut costs and live music is an easy target. And not just pubs but restaurants and galleries too.

You can expect me to argue that cutting back on live music is short-sighted. That it's detrimental to the future of music in the UK strikes me as obvious. But even in terms of pubs' economics, cutting an obvious expense does not guarantee a saving. From The Guardian:

"Research carried out by PRS for Music – the Performing Right Society of composers, songwriters and music publishers – found that pubs that provide music take on average 44% more money than pubs that do not, a figure which rises to 60% at the weekend.

Live music nights proved to be the greatest draw, with one in four publicans reported increased takings of between 25%-50%."

However, as this article explains, the licensing laws make it time consuming and expensive for small venues, including pubs and restaurants, to obtain a licence for live music. It's understandable that publicans and restaurant proprietors see live music as not worth the effort and expense. Let's hope the current government will act on its promise to 'cut red tape' with that surrounding music licences being the first to meet the scissors.