First census of the UK's live music scene planned

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption, The census will take stock of gigs, large and small, in seven UK cities

The first ever census of the UK's live music scene will be held in March, it has been announced.

Researchers will audit gigs in seven cities, from street performers and choirs to pop bands playing arenas.

Described as a "Springwatch for music," the project will be conducted by the universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Glasgow.

They aim to discover the challenges facing artists and venues at a time when live music is under pressure.

In London, 35% of grassroots music venues have closed in the past eight years, while a report by UK Music found that 50% of Bristol's music venues were affected by development, noise or planning issues.

'Snapshot of health'

"Live music in the UK - from the Beatles and the Sex Pistols to West End musicals and Glastonbury - has transformed our culture, yet it is constantly under pressure," said Dr Matt Brennan from the University of Edinburgh.

"This census will help give us an accurate snapshot of the scene's health."

A pilot scheme ran in Edinburgh last year, and its findings encouraged the city's licensing board to relax its policies on noise levels.

Previously, venues were required to make sure that music was "inaudible" in adjacent properties. Under the new rules, amplified music should not be a "nuisance" in neighbouring homes.

The UK Music Census will run for 24 hours from midday on Thursday 9 March in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Birmingham, Southampton and Brighton.

An army of volunteers will record all aspects of the shows on offer, including the musical genres, ticket prices and audience demographics.

An online survey will launch on the same day, gathering information on how much people spend and how far they will travel to see their favourite artists.

Anyone wishing to assist with the survey can register at the project's official site.

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