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Unbeknown to most, on the 6th April 2015 the government released a new entertainment license structure with regards to live music (you can check it out here –  The long and short of it is it simultaneously makes it easier and more difficult to host live music events, it all depends on what your event is.

Under the new license, provided it’s taking place on already licensed premises you can hold a live music event if it takes place between 8am and 11pm and the audience is no more than 500 people.  Bear in mind there seem to be a lot of if’s and buts on the document, and at the end of the day it’s always down to the local licensing authority.


The Good News

As long as it’s “on licensed premises”.  This means in theory you can put on bands in your beer garden as long as they’re wrapped up by 11pm.  Bands, this “should” encourage venues to book earlier and so you might be in bed at a reasonable time (or just prop up the bar after the gig for a while).

If you already put on bands that finish by 11pm, you can now have up to 500 people in the audience without additional licensing which isn’t a bad thing.

The Bad News

If you’re an established music venue, chances are you have bands on until midnight.  Under the new law you need an additional, paid for license.  So put bands on earlier or pay money.  In theory pretty good news, but lets look at modern “drinking culture”, people pre-drink then go out at 10pm or later.  So now for the established venues to get any cut of revenue they have to buy an additional license.  Yep, that sucks.  The reason publicans stay open late is to make a living, if they could they’d be in bed by midnight they would be.  Making a living in the industry is hard, now harder.

The Theory

More people can put music on without extra licensing, and it’s pretty simple as long as you’re in a pub.

The Reality

Most venues that put on live music finish after 11pm, they do this as it’s what customers want.  They now need to pay an extra license to do it.

If a new venue wants to put a band on, they now won’t.  There is an extra barrier to “amplified live music”, yes in theory it’s easier, but what’s the point of putting on a band to finish earlier when you know people won’t turn up until later?  Venues have put bands on early, and pushed them back and back, that’s why bands are on late.  Supply and demand.

The Answer

Ok, that’s misleading…  The answer is to get people to come out earlier, and go and watch live music, but lets face it, that’s no longer our drinking culture.  Assuming people actually went out earlier, why would this work?!

  • People don’t pre-drink, and go into a pub.  The more people spend in the pub, the better prices the landlord gets on beer.  The better prices the landlord gets, the cheaper they offer the beer to you.  Yes, if you used the pub rather than your local supermarket, it would be cheaper to go there.
  • You now go out at a reasonable time, have a few drinks in your local pub.  By doing this you are giving a local business your money.  Now they have money, they can put on better (or some) entertainment!
  • So there’s some cash in the pubs till drawer, now they can afford to pay bands a decent amount of money.  It’s not that pubs don’t want to pay bands, if they don’t make money, they can’t.  Realistically, that’s why places don’t put on entertainment.

So go forth, to your local live music pub at 7pm, stay there all night.  Or if there are a few in walking distance, go in all of them, buy a drink.  Then go to sleep at a reasonable time.

Idealistic, yes.  Is it going to happen, no.