A ‘Springwatch’ for live music: Get involved with the UK Live Music Census

As event organisers you don’t need us to preach about the cultural contribution made by live music every day across the UK. Just this week I saw The Moonlandingz at The Bullingdon in Oxford, and it was totally unforgettable. But how do we quantify the value of this? And what of live music’s economic contribution? Earlier this month we saw The Forge in Camden close down, and so now more than ever, we all need to understand and appreciate the full value of live music. That’s where the UK Live Music Census come in, and here’s Emma Webster to tell you how to get involved…

Live music in the UK is facing challenging times. Grass-roots venues are run on tighter and tighter margins, facing threats from gentrification, noise complaints, and rising business rates; music education faces an uncertain future; and arts funding is being cut across the board.

We know that live music is an immense economic and cultural asset, driving everything from tourism to civic pride, and that live music also has huge cultural and social value, whether it be a place for spending time with friends and family, or even to improve health and well-being. However, at present, still not enough is known about it, and much of what we do know is anecdotal rather than presented in the ‘numbers and narratives’ manner to which politicians and other key decision-makers respond.

This, then, is one of the drivers behind the UK Live Music Census, the world’s first national music census; a ‘Springwatch’ for live music, if you will. As Lord Clement Jones, a driving force behind changes to live music legislation in the UK, notes:-

Data about the sector has so far been relatively scarce and mostly anecdotal, and so the much needed data collected by UK Live Music Census will help us protect live music going into the future.

Since March, online surveys have been gathering data about live music across the UK, from audience members and musicians, and from those who make it all happen behind the scenes: venues and promoters.

And this is where you come in.

We need as many venues, promoters and musicians as possible to complete the surveys, in order that we can build a complete picture of live music activity around the country.  We are particularly interested in your data if you are based in Brighton, Glasgow, Leeds, Newcastle, Oxford and Southampton as these are our ‘snapshot’ cities for which we will be creating in-depth reports.

The online surveys are open until 31st May, accessed via the UK Live Music Census website, uklivemusiccensus.org – and one lucky respondent will win an iPad! (T&Cs apply.)

The Census is being led by academics from the University of Edinburgh’s Reid School of Music – part of Edinburgh College of Art – in collaboration with Newcastle University’s International Centre for Music Studies and the University of Glasgow’s School of Culture and Creative Arts. The project is in partnership with the Musicians’ Union, Music Venue Trust and UK Music, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Two years ago the project team ran a pilot live music census in Edinburgh. Its findings were used to inform the city council’s decision to change its policies about noise levels to the benefit of performers. With enough data, we hope the UK Live Music Census will similarly help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the industry is facing, and inform policy to help it flourish.

>> Get involved: Take the survey now <<

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