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live music census report

Live music worth millions locally, research shows

Published on: 16 February 2018

Concert goers in the region spend almost £44m a year on tickets, transport, food, drink and merchandise and support 1,620 full-time equivalent jobs, a study into the live music scene has shown.

First ever live music survey of its kind

A report Valuing Live Music reveals the results from the UK Live Music Census, the first ever nationwide live music survey of its kind. 

The census, which was organised in the area by Newcastle University, also revealed the social and cultural value of live music, with venues becoming part of people’s life stories. 

The study provides further evidence that people now spend more money on live events than on recorded music.

Dr Adam Behr, Lecturer in Contemporary and Popular Music at Newcastle University, who co-authored the final report, said: “This research clearly indicates the vibrancy of Newcastle’s live music ecology – economically, socially and culturally – but also that we can’t take this for granted or be complacent.”

A crowd at a concert

Threats facing small venues

Other key points from report show that small live music venues are facing a number of threats that could affect their long-term future. One third of the nearly 200 music venues surveyed reported that increases in business rates were having a negative impact.  One in three of the small live music venues surveyed – which often give up-and-coming acts their first big break – have experienced problems with property development around the venue, which can cause noise complaints from people living nearby.

Researchers from the universities of Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Turku in Finland, carried out the live music census in March 2017. Surveys were carried out in Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead, Oxford, Brighton, Leeds, Southampton and Liverpool. It was the biggest survey of its kind.

Nearly half of 4,400 people surveyed spend more than £20 on tickets for concerts or festivals each month. Only one quarter spend the same on recorded music.

Some 44 per cent of the 2,700 respondents to an audience online survey had to resell a ticket for a live music event in the past 12 months. However, only 0.4 per cent of those surveyed said that they bought a music festival or concert ticket for the purpose of reselling it at a profit in the last 12 months while only two per cent of those who had to resell a ticket actually resold it for profit.

The findings showed that many people attend events in smaller spaces. More than three quarters had visited small music venues – those with a capacity of up to 350 people – during the past 12 months and 74 per cent had visited pubs and bars for live music. 

Supporting live music

The researchers say mapping current trends will help inform debates about the future of the live music industry, an area of increasing importance to policymakers – such as the recently announced Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Inquiry into live music.

“While there are challenges for musicians, venues and promoters, understanding the situation can help with planning to support live music now and in the future” says Dr Behr.

Academics from the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music led the project in collaboration with Newcastle University’s International Centre for Music Studies and the University of Turku’s Institute for Advanced Studies.  The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The industry partners are the Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust and UK Music.

Affiliate censuses were run in March 2017 by Brighton’s British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), Leeds Beckett University and Southampton Solent University; LIPA/University of Liverpool ran its live music census in June 2017.



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