Live Music Exchange Resources

The Edinburgh Live Music Census Report – Adam Behr and Emma Webster with Matt Brennan


Author(s): Adam Behr and Emma Webster with Matt Brennan
Publisher: University of Edinburgh/Live Music Exchange
Date: September 2015

Click here to read or download the report in full.

This report is drawn from a census of Edinburgh’s live music scene conducted and analysed by the Live Music Exchange over the summer of 2015. A pilot study based on the model previously used in Melbourne, it was the first exercise of its kind in the UK, and the first to cover the huge range of venues that provide vital work for local musicians and add to the musical fabric of the city, but which are often passed over in assessments of a city’s music scene.

Whilst it is perhaps best known internationally for its festivals, Edinburgh’s music scene is vibrant and its residents are keen supporters of a dedicated community of musicians throughout the year, particularly in relation to its population base and size.

Key findings

  • Edinburgh currently has a minimum of 267 venues offering live music including music played by DJs.
  • The most prevalent types of venue in Edinburgh are pubs/bars.
  • We estimate that on Saturday 6th June there were approximately 11,500 people attending at least 86 live music events in Edinburgh.
  • The total average annual spend on live music per person for a typical live music fan is £1,120 (including tickets, food and drink, transport)
  • Approximately £170,000 was spent at venues with live music on the night of the Census (approximately £90,000 on ticket sales alone).
  • The total estimate of spend on live music in Edinburgh per year (including tickets, food/drink, and travel) is at least £40 million.
  • We estimate that musicians and DJs in Edinburgh are paid at least £2.9 million per year at the sub-set of venues visited on Census night.
  • Assuming minimum wage, we estimate that venue and production staff are paid at least £2.6 million per year at the sub-set of venues visited on Census night.
  • 44% of musicians reported that their gigs had been affected by noise restrictions (NB: These may have included noise restrictions imposed by venues).
  • The Census indicates that there is a high level of self-policing is taking place amongst Edinburgh venue operators with regard to noise issues.
  • Moreover, the city licensing regime’s ‘inaudibility clause’ frequently cropped up in the qualitative comments of the surveys, suggesting that it has a ‘chilling effect’ on venues’ preparedness to put on live music and the kind of music they will provide.

Key recommendations to Edinburgh City Council:

  • Change inaudibility clause to ‘nuisance’ or decibel-level (through negotiation with Licensing Board).
  • Adopt the ‘agent of change’ principle as guidance for informing planning decisions around venues and advising residents, and work towards its enactment by the Scottish Parliament in law.
  • Ensure that the city council’s forthcoming refresh of its cultural policy recognises both the economic and cultural value of live music to the city, and promise to do what it can to protect small to medium capacity music venues in particular in this challenging climate.

Click here to read the report in full.

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