Live Music Exchange Resources

UK Live Music Census toolkit – Emma Webster, Matt Brennan, Adam Behr and Martin Cloonan with Jake Ansell (2018)


Author(s): Emma Webster, Matt Brennan, Adam Behr and Martin Cloonan with Jake Ansell
Organisation: University of Edinburgh / Live Music Exchange
Date: 2018

Download the UK Live Music Census toolkit (zipped file)

For 24 hours from noon on Thursday 9th March 2017, an army of volunteers in cities across the country went out and about to live music events, from pub gigs to massed choirs to arena concerts. Data was collected on audiences and venues in Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead, Oxford, Brighton, Leeds and Southampton (and in Liverpool on 1st June), and nationwide online surveys for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences were online from March until June. The UK Live Music Census covered all genres and took a broad definition of live music to include events featuring (named) DJs. For more information see

The intention was to help measure live music’s social, cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the sector was facing and inform policy to help it flourish.

The UK Live Music Census was organised by researchers from the Live Music Exchange research group, a collaboration across the universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Turku, Finland. In 2015, the same researchers organised a pilot census in Edinburgh, inspired by work in Melbourne in 2012. For the UK Live Music Census we are indebted to the students and staff at the University of Glasgow, Newcastle University, Sage Gateshead, Bucks New University and Oxford Brookes University for their invaluable help with local censuses in March 2017. Affiliate institutions also organised their own live music censuses in 2017 in Brighton (British and Irish Modern Music Institute, Brighton), Leeds (Leeds Beckett University), Liverpool (LIPA/University of Liverpool) and Southampton (Southampton Solent University).

The UK Live Music Census toolkit is intended for any people or organisations seeking to measure the value of live music in their local area. It draws on our own experiences of running live music censuses in cities across the UK and contains advice and tools for conducting a successful live music census.

Our intention is that the toolkit should be a guide rather than being prescriptive and is based on how we ran our live music census in March 2017. However, how your live music census will actually be conducted in practice will vary according to context.

The toolkit consists of this ‘how-to’ guide and online appendices containing, among other things, the methodology for calculating economic value, suggested text for emails, a guide to web scraping and suggestions for profile interviews and data analysis. It also includes the survey questions from our UK census, which were devised in conjunction with a number of stakeholders within the UK’s live music sector and subsequently refined following the 2017 live music census. These stakeholders included our partners on the project, the Musicians’ Union, the Music Venue Trust and UK Music, and organisations such as Attitude is Everything, Julie’s Bicycle and PRS for Music. The methodology for calculating economic value was devised by Professor Jake Ansell at the University of Edinburgh.

We hope that the toolkit will continue to be refined in subsequent live music censuses. If you carry out your own live music census, please let us know and keep us informed at

All parts of the toolkit are licensed on a Non-commercial Creative Commons (CC-NY) basis.

Disclaimer: This toolkit was produced by researchers at the University of Edinburgh and Newcastle University (‘we’). Note that this is a guide only and, while we encourage people to use it if they believe it will be helpful, ultimately the live music census that you run is your own and this toolkit is provided on an ‘as is’ basis. You can amend the methods according to suit your circumstances or not, but we accept no responsibility for, or any liability arising from, any census organised using this toolkit or from any other use of this toolkit. No warranties, promises and/or representations of any kind, whether expressed or implied, are given as to the nature, standard, accuracy or otherwise of the toolkit, nor the suitability or otherwise of the toolkit for your particular circumstances.

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