On 8 March, the Live Music Bill – covered extensively by Pro Sound News Europe since its introduction in July 2009 - received Royal Assent, becoming the Live Music Act. Officially, the Act states that an exemption to the controversial 2003 Licensing Act should take place when ‘the live music entertainment takes place in the presence of an audience of no more than 200 persons’.
As the Bill becomes law, small venues wanting to host live music will no longer need a local authority entertainment licence between the hours of 8am and 11pm – cutting bureaucracy and expense, and making it easier for pubs and clubs to host music acts. It also clarifies Licensing Act anomalies whereby a pianist could be fined for playing in the street, or a school fined for hosting an unlicensed concert by its pupils.
However, the Act is not likely to become law until October 2012 – after a potentially lucrative series of events including the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Jo Dipple, recently appointed CEO of UK Music, the UK commercial music industry’s umbrella body, recognises that a seven-month hold-up was inevitable: “Because of Parliamentary procedure, there was always going to be a delay between Royal Assent and deregulatory measures coming into effect. It’s no surprise," she said.
“However, this should not detract from what a huge achievement this is or the positive impact that deregulation will have on grassroots live music and the UK economy. A Live Music Act is still cause to celebrate," she added.
John Smith, Musician’s Union general secretary, said: “It’s great news that the Live Music Bill has now passed all of its parliamentary stages, and we would like to thank all of the MPs and Lords who have been involved in this process.
“The MU has been lobbying for changes to the Licensing Act for many years now, and this exemption is fantastic news for musicians and will be a real boost for live music. We look forward to the implementation of the Act later this year and we will be working with the government to ensure that the Act has maximum impact.”