There is widespread interest in the live music sector; numerous reports assessing its value are produced by industry organisations, policy bodies and the third sector. Nevertheless, there is still a knowledge gap about the specific relationship between the value of live music on the one hand and current challenges facing venues across the UK on the other.

Accounts of live music activity vary according to where they have been produced and according to which type of policy, industry or academic research has provided them. This can hamper meaningful comparisons across cities, and between different types of music.

The Census is a collaboration between music industry organisations, policy bodies and leading academic live music researchers from the universities of Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In conjunction with industry personnel and policymakers, the team has conducted snapshot censuses of live music in three cities (Glasgow, Newcastle and Oxford), with parallel censuses taking place in other cities such as Leeds and Liverpool. We are developing a toolkit to be shared with other institutions so that they can conduct similar exercises based on this methodology in the future.

With project partners UK Music, the Musicians' Union and the Music Venue Trust, we are also surveying musicians, venues and audience members nationwide to provide the most comprehensive dataset yet of live music in the country.

Our prior research shows that different local government responses to cultural activity and venue licensing can have a profound effect on live music provision, but also that it is difficult for policymakers to make informed decisions given the variety of different definitions and parameters used in the available evidence.

By bringing together industry bodies, policymakers and academics to formulate the questions and promote the surveys, this project will assist researchers, policymakers and industry alike, providing consensus on an academically rigorous methodology and subsequent dataset for assessing the scope and value of live music in the UK. This will be a large step forward for all concerned in working to safeguard and develop the cultural and economic wellbeing of this most valuable component of local character in cities and localities across the country.

Group members

This research group comprises Adam Behr (CI) with Matt Brennan (PI, Edinburgh University), Martin Cloonan (CI, University of Glasgow), and Emma Webster (CI, Edinburgh University).