First music census to snapshot the UK's £3.5bn music scene

Published: 9 March 2017

The UK will today hold its first live music census aiming to take a snapshot of the general public’s musical choices and tastes, how they engage with music, the formats they prefer to changes in musical trends.

The UK will today hold its first live music census aiming to take a snapshot of the general public’s musical choices and tastes, how they engage with music, the formats they prefer to changes in musical trends.Musician guitar 450

The UK Live Music Census is led by the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle. It is hoped the survey will help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the industry is facing, and inform policy to help it flourish.

From midday today for 24 hours a volunteer army of music lovers will track performances in cities across the country, from lone buskers to massed choirs and from pub gigs to stadium concerts.

There will be coordinated censuses in Glasgow, lead by the University of Glasgow's Professor Martin Cloonan, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton and Brighton.

The music industry is worth £3.5bn to the UK economy, and creates almost 101,600 jobs, according to UK Music. And yet the full picture of what the public is listening to and how they listen and interact has never been fully and accurately surveyed.

Professor Martin Cloonan, Professor of Popular Music Politics, at the University of Glasgow, said: “I am delighted to be the Glasgow lead on the UK Live Music Census. What is being proposed has never been done before and is set to reveal the true state of the UK’s live music industry. Live music is a vital cultural and economic asset and it is important to monitor its health and to support it.

“Glasgow has a particularly vibrant live music scene and tonight we hope to cover 70 music events, gathering vital information and talking to audiences, venue staff and musicians. The results will help to provide the clearest picture of the Glasgow live music scene yet, illustrating that vibrancy while also show issues which need to be addressed”.

“In addition to the on the night surveys, there are online surveys which run until 9 May. Once they are completed we will begin the serious analysis.

“We hope that the information we provided will be of interest to live music promoters, venues, policy makers, musicians and audiences, all of whom will be able to use it in a number of ways. We will place an open source research tool online meaning that anyone in any town could us our method to conduct their own census.

“Almost everyone likes live music and we hope that almost everyone will get something from our results”.

The Census will quantify for the first time the nationwide challenges the industry is facing and inform policy to help it flourish.

One area of concern within the industry is increasing tax paid by music venues which experts claim could pose a major threat to the UK's live music scene.

Those leading the census say a rise in commercial property rates could force many venues to close, and potential rise in taxes to feature strongly in the feedback.

Dr Matt Brennan, from the University of Edinburgh, who is leading the UK Census project, says venues operating at grassroots level are particularly vulnerable.

“Venues around the country have been telling us that they already operate on thin margins,” he said, “so proposed increases in rateable values of up to 55% in some cases will have a significant impact.

“The UK Live Music Census will be very important in identifying challenges that the industry faces, such as rising rates and other issues. 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. Our hope is that the Census will be a vital tool in strengthening a much-loved part of the UK’s culture.”

A nationwide online survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences will also go live today and will remain open until 8 May. Music fans, musicians, venues and promoters across all genres and at all levels are asked to fill in the survey at the official website: .

For more information contact Jane Chilton, Communications Office. Tel: 0141 330 3535 /

First published: 9 March 2017

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