The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletins



Sent: Sunday, November 07, 2004 11:17 AM
Subject: Live music survey: Government got it wrong

Last week the government replied to Lord Avebury's questions about the live music survey. The government's answer (see below) shows that key DCMS claims made on 25 August were wrong: the 1.7 million gig estimate was for nearly the whole survey, not just 'bars, clubs and restaurants'. It is also likely that, contrary to Richard Caborn's statement, venues whose main business was staging live music were included. Their gig averages would not only distort the overall picture, but since they are already operating under entertainment licences, the new Licensing Act is unlikely to have much impact.

Using the calculation method outlined in the government's answer gives the following gig estimates for the 12 months leading up to the survey (NB: for pubs in particular gig estimates may include karaoke and DJs as 'live music'; many, if not most, Student Union and club gigs are private):
Pubs/Inns: an estimated 25,520 stage an average of 26 gigs/year = 663,520 gigs
Hotels: 8,580 x 26 = 223,080
Restaurants/cafes: 6,980 x 19 = 132,620
Small clubs: 2,436 x 24 = 58,464
Church halls etc: 12,240 x 20 = 244,800
Clubs & Assocs: 15,400 x 31 = 477,400
Student Unions: 407 x 32 = 13,024

This gives an estimated total of 1,812,908 gigs in the past year for all seven venue categories combined. If you then break this down just for pubs/inns, small clubs and restaurants, this gives 854,604 gigs - way below Caborn's estimate of 1.7 million. But perhaps Caborn had thrown in 'Clubs and Associations' as well. In that case the total estimate rises to 1,332,004 - still well below 1.7 million.

Government answer to Lord Avebury's question:

Live Music

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government: 'How they were able to select the venues studied in MORI's survey of live music staged in England and Wales in 2003–04 which did not have a core business of staging live music in arriving at the conclusion, given in a Department of Culture, Media and Sport press release of 25 August, that "an estimated 1.7 million gigs were staged in the past year alone in bars, clubs and restaurants whose main business isn't putting on live music"; and whether they will give details of the calculation.' [HL4624]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The venues included in the sample were randomly selected by MORI, using the Yellow Pages database ( The venue types from which the sample was drawn were provided by DCMS. These reflected the range of venues where music can be staged, but where the public also go for reasons other than live music. Some public houses may, for example, stage live music on a very regular basis, but they do not exist purely to stage live events. Other forms of entertainment are an option, and the venues could exist with no live music at all.

The other factor involved in selecting the range of venues to be included was the likelihood of there being any impact on live music provision resulting from the new licensing arrangements. The venue types included in the sample were also those on which the department and, through advice from the Live Music Forum, the industry more generally felt that the new licensing arrangments might, if anywhere, have an impact. The estimated figure of 1.7 million live music events in England and Wales in the previous 12 months, was calculated through first establishing the average number of live music events which venues had staged in the previous year, and multiplying this figure by the estimated number of venues which exist of the types included in the survey.

Hamish Birchall