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UK Embarks On National Live Music Census

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Chris Bowen · March 14, 2017

Ever wondered how many people are out attending gigs in your city on a typical Saturday night? A live music census can provide the answer. In Melbourne a live music census in 2012 unearthed some astonishing data. It calculated that live music effectively delivers a Grand Final every Saturday night, with 97,000+ people attending live music performances in Melbourne at that time. 20,000 of these attended outer suburban venues.

Now the UK is getting in on the act, where a national census of live music has commenced. The intention is to gather rich data about gigs and audiences, and to use this to strengthen the live music scene. The census was held across six UK cities on 9 March, and is being accompanied by a national survey for audiences, musicians, venues, and promoters, open until 8 May. This aims to build a picture of live music activity across the country.

The census, a project of research hub Live Music Exchange with three university partners, also wants to gather information on audience demographics, different genres played, ticket prices, and live music’s cultural and economic value.

“The UK Live Music Census will be very important in identifying challenges that the industry faces, such as rising rates and other issues” said Academic Dr Brennan, a project leader. “It will give us a detailed picture of what exactly it means to be venue owner, a musician, and a live music lover in 2017.”

A census can be a useful policy tool, providing an effective snapshot across one or more cities or regions. Here in Australia, in addition to  Melbourne’s in 2012, census activities have also been undertaken in Adelaide. If held sequentially, as is the case in Adelaide, useful trends over time can be identified.

Jo Dipple, chief executive of UK Music, one of the Census’ industry partners, welcomed the research: “It will help organisations like UK Music to understand better the pressures on music businesses and venues so we can lobby for the most effective policies in each area.”

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