10 tips on the Live Music Act

By Poppelston Allen

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags Live music License Music Performance

Never has the law relating to live and recorded music been so complex. Here is a brief guide to the main issues licensees often ask.
  • Obviously, check your licence permissions first — if you have recorded and/or live music authorised on the licence, then you can provide these types of entertainment within the hours so authorised, subject to any conditions.
  • The Live Music Act deregulated live amplified music for audiences of up to 200 people from 8am to 11pm on premises licensed to sell alcohol. Depending on what your premises are defined as by reference to your licensed plans, this may include an outside area.
  • Even if a beer garden or outside terrace is excluded from the licensed premises you may be able to benefit from having amplified live music outside by virtue of the area being classed as a ‘workplace’ under an exemption of the Live Music Act.
  • Unamplified music between 8am to 11pm is exempt anywhere, with no audience limit.
  • The Live Music Act also suspends any live music-related conditions so far as they relate to that live music — for example “all windows and doors to be closed during live music” wouldn’t apply up until 11pm.
  • Incidental/background music is not generally licensable. Therefore, background music played in a restaurant area via speakers or even a low-level live performer would not need authorisation. It is all a question of degree, including the volume of the ‘background’ music and whether the music is one of the main attractions, and/or advertised as such.
  • If you have an old licence, converted during Licensing Reform in 2005, you may find tucked away in your ‘conditions’ an authorisation to have recorded music 24 hours a day, and/or for private entertainment with a view to profit. These are not conditions at all, but benefits carried over from the old licensing regime.
  • Private entertainment, where you have had no involvement in the organisation or management of that entertainment (for example, a wedding reception where the bride and groom have booked the DJ themselves, and you just provide an upstairs room) isn’t licensable if the organisers of the entertainment are not charging with a view to profit. This would cover weddings, private parties, etc, so long as you are merely hiring out the room. Be aware, however, that enforcement authorities may not be able to tell the difference from outside the pub.
  • Sometime in spring 2015, the live music exemption will be increased from an audience of 200 to an audience of 500, and recorded music (DJs and in-house music systems) will for the first time be exempt, again up to an audience of 500 until 11pm. Recorded music will only be exempt at on-licensed premises (whereas live music will continue to be exempt in work places).
  • Karaoke is considered a form of live music.
  • No exemptions affect your responsibility not to cause a noise nuisance, which may result in a review and conditions being added, which then apply to live or recorded music, or a Noise Abatement Notice being issued.

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