Surveys still open for the UK Live Music Census: a ‘Springwatch’ for live music

Is there a venue which has been particularly significant to your musical career?

Describe live music in your local town/city in three words.

Have any of your gigs been affected by external factors such as noise complaints or parking/loading issues?

These are just three of the questions being asked in the UK Live Music Census, the surveys for which are running until the end of May. We need you to fill them in at uklivemusiccensus.org

Live music in the UK is facing challenging times. Grassroots venues are run on tighter and tighter margins, facing threats from gentrification and rising business rates; music education faces an uncertain future; and arts funding is being cut across the board. As a musician, perhaps you think that parking is a pain, that the venues aren’t varied enough, or that live music doesn’t pay. As a promoter of live music, perhaps it’s simply getting more difficult to get bums on seats.

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 the venues and promoters who help make it all happen behind the scenes.

And this is where you come in.

We need as many musicians, venues, promoters, and audience members as possible to complete the surveys, in order that we can build a complete picture of live music activity around the country. 

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

The Census is being led by academics from the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle, in partnership with the Musicians’ Union,Music Venue Trust and UK Music, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

With enough data, we hope that the UK Live Music Census will help measure live music’s cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the industry is facing, and inform policy to help it flourish.