BBPA and ALMR call on pubs to get involved in live music census

By Georgina Townshend

- Last updated on GMT

Live Music: New census will be used to assess the challenges the industry faces
Live Music: New census will be used to assess the challenges the industry faces
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has urged pubs to get involved in a first-of-its-kind live-music census to measure its cultural and economic value.

Results from the survey will be used to assess the challenges the industry faces and inform policy to help it thrive in the future.

The survey is in two parts, which started with volunteers for the UK Live Music Census tracking performances in cities across the country – from lone buskers to massed choirs and pub gigs to stadium concerts – for 24 hours from noon on 9 March.​ They logged the gig’s musical genre, the venue, door charge and audience demographic.

A nationwide online survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences will also be open until 8 May, to which pubs have been urged to contribute.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the BBPA, said: “This is a great idea and we are urging pubs to get involved. Britain’s live music scene begins in the pub, so it’s a chance to highlight the great musical story we have to tell.

“Music is vital to the trade, and pubs have to work harder these days to draw customers in. 

“Coldplay, Snow Patrol, Elton John – they all started out in their local, and I hope this survey helps to highlight what pubs are doing to foster up-and-coming talent.”

Live music has key economic role

Kate Nicholls, chief executive at ALMR, said: “Live music venues play very important economic and social roles. They are great employers and critical engines of growth, and are breeding-grounds for the UK’s prodigious musical talent.

“Pubs, nightclubs and music venues make an important and unique contribution to the UK’s high streets, and the British are rightly very proud of our world-beating musical talent and ability to punch well above our weight, culturally-speaking. But if these music venues struggle and cease to exist, then bands, artists and DJs will seriously struggle to carve out opportunities for themselves and get their breaks.

“Live music can also provide a great boost to pubs and bars by helping diversify their offerings and attract new customers.”

She said that the census of music venues will help both the sector and authorities get an idea of its scope and potential. “A greater sense of transparency for music venues can help us communicate to the Government what an important element of licensed hospitality this is,” Nicholls added.

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 team in partnership with the Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust, and UK Music, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

How live music boosts pub business

Business increased for The Morden Arms, Greenwich, after providing more live music - something it says is now a “rare commodity”.

Clive Reffell, spokesman for the pub, has also encouraged music lovers to get involved with the census.

He said: “Live music is the life blood of the pub. It’s not a place that people find accidentally, we need to create reasons for people to make a visit, and that’s music.”

The pub has live music performances every Friday and Saturday evening, plus every Sunday afternoon and Thursday evening and lunchtime.

“We have increased the amount of live music we have in the pub, and have seen business go up.

“You can’t force people to like live music, but for those that do supporting local venues that supply it for them is important – use it or lose it.”

He warned that without support, music “will just consolidate into bigger venues, and become ticketed events” making it more difficult for new talent to break into the industry.

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