Live Music Exchange Blog

Happy Birthday Live Music Exchange!


This week’s blog post celebrates Live Music Exchange’s 2nd birthday by listing some of the achievements of the Live Music Exchange and setting out our future plans.

To begin, an introduction to how and why Live Music Exchange (LMX) started. LMX evolved from the three-year research project led by Professors Simon Frith and Martin Cloonan which investigated the history of live music in Britain – the first book of a three-part history was published in March 2013. The project team were successful in obtaining follow-on funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, in order to develop knowledge exchange in the live music sector, and, as a result, the Live Music Exchange began in February 2012.

Over the past two years Live Music Exchange has provided, and continues to provide, three kinds of knowledge exchange activity, both in order to support and improve music policy making and to assist with the development of a healthy live music ‘ecology’ within the UK:-

  • information provision;
  • events to bring stakeholders together;
  • expertise and insight.

Information provision and resources

As a source of information, LMX operates an online hub for promoters, musicians, agents, researchers, educators, journalists, venue staff, local authorities, national policy makers, technicians and more. It provides:

  • blog posts, posted weekly by members of the LMX team and guests, academics and live music sector practitioners and other stakeholders. Highlights include blogs on the campaign against leafleting bans by Lord Clement-Jones; the political economy of live music by Simon Frith; Musicians’ Union Assistant General Secretary Horace Trubridge on musicians not getting paid during the London Olympics 2012; the economic value of live music by Dave Laing; a report on the live music census in Victoria, Australia, by Dobe Newton; the campaign against the licensing of busking in Camden by Jonny Walker; how to communicate with your monitor engineer by Mark Hadman; and Suzanne Bull on Attitude Is Everything, a project working towards improving access to live music for disabled people;
  • a digest of live music news, originally as a weekly summary on the website, now as a daily twitter feed via @LMExchange, sourced from online and print publications such as Music Week, CMU Daily, the Guardian, the BBC website, the NME, and The Stage;
  • access to a growing archive of relevant academic, industry and government reports and other publications. Topics include festivals, regulation and legislation, sustainability and green issues, economics, and live music history, to name but a few.

The main public-facing foci of the Live Music Exchange are the website, Facebook and Twitter.  As of February 2014, LMX has 248 direct subscribers to the site (people who get email updates of posts), and 391 Facebook ‘likes’ (people who get LMX news feeds – the majority of these are from the UK but over 20 countries are represented altogether). The site has 430 Twitter followers at the time of writing – a number which increases every day – with followers ranging from academics and journalists to music industries professionals.


LMX has co-organised a series of predominantly public issue-based events, which have brought together leading academics with people working directly (and indirectly) with live music, to exchange ideas about how to encourage and assist a vibrant and sustainable live music ecology:-

  • Leeds, 5th May 2012, on the problems facing a local live music scene: ‘Interesting Times for Local Live Music’, featuring representatives from Leeds City Council and SMG-Europe talking about the Leeds Arena, Kilimajaro promoter Stuart Galbraith, and papers by speakers such as Hamish Birchall on the Live Music Act 2012 and Nathan Clark from the Brudenell Social Club;
  • Cardiff, 12th November 2012, in partnership with The University of Glamorgan’s Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Nations: ‘Supporting Live Music in Hard Times’. Speakers included Fiona Stewart (Green Man Festival), Professor George McKay (Professor of Cultural Studies, University of Salford and AHRC Leadership Fellow, Connected Communities Programme), and representatives from the Creative Industries Panel Wales, the Welsh Music Foundation, and the Arts Council of Wales;
  • Glasgow, 23rd January 2013, a round-table discussion on the relations between venues, promoters and local council officials, featuring representatives from Glasgow City Council (planning, environmental health, etc.), Edinburgh City Council, and local promoters and venues including the Glasgow Hydro Arena, the Barrowlands Ballroom, Stirling’s Tolbooth, and Synergy Concerts;
  • London, 14th May, 2013, in partnership with City University London, on ‘Sustaining a vibrant live music ecology’, including discussion of the effects of digital technology on the relations between the live and recorded music sectors.  Speakers included Paul Latham (Live Nation UK), Simon Frith, and Dave Laing, and representatives from Arts Council England, Songkick, Spotify, the Barbican Centre, Jazz Services, The Roundhouse, Womex, and Eat Your Own Ears;
  • London, 15th May 2013, a one-day workshop, organised in partnership with the Musicians’ Union: Introduction to Live Music Promotion.

These meetings have brought together major commercial players in the field, small local promoters and venue managers in the cities concerned, local councillors, planners, and environmental health officers, representatives of arts organisations, the organisers of such musical events as the Green Man Festival and the Glasgow Jazz Festival, and representatives of new digital businesses such as Spotify and SongKick. The impact of these meetings has been to establish new understandings and ongoing relations between different stakeholders such as local council officials and venue owners (as has happened in Glasgow) and between music administrators and entrepreneurs (as has happened in Wales).

Expertise and insight

Members of the LMX team have provided their expertise on specific live music research and policy issues in the following forms:-

  • confidential reports on and interpretation of census data gathered by Festival Awards and Guilfest;
  • expert advice on the drafting of and relevant data for Lord Clement-Jones’ attempt to lift the leafleting ban via his Cultural and Community Distribution Deregulation Bill. In the words of Lord Clement-Jones: ‘Live Music Exchange’s research impact takes the form of significant influence on the way issues are perceived and evidence used in public policy-making in the field’;
  • advice on the problems of gathering and interpreting the statistical data involved in measuring the value of live music for the UK Music Report on Live Music and Tourism;
  • advice on the sourcing of and interpretation of live music data for Creative Scotland’s Review of the Music Sector;
  • participation in a meeting at the House of Lords in July 2013 on the Live Music Act 2012, organised by UK Music and the Musicians’ Union, and subsequent inclusion in the Rocktober Report of October 2013.

The Future

Live Music Exchange began as a knowledge exchange project and while this still forms part of our remit, the emphasis of the project has shifted slightly. We now consider Live Music Exchange to be primarily a research network and resource for academics and industry practitioners alike, and one which maintains a knowledge exchange focus.

To this end, we will continue to publish relevant and engaging blog content every week, and to continue to provide a daily live music news service via Twitter for the foreseeable future.

Live Music Exchange is currently involved in an AHRC-funded project on the cultural value of live music, focused on the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, and is due to start a second project in a similar vein on the ecology of public and commercial investment in British live music venues later in 2014.

Over the past two years, Live Music Exchange has positioned itself as the go-to research network for the live music sector.  We are looking forward to working with the Association of Independent Festivals to develop insight into the independent festival sector, and to working with other industry and public sector organisations which require our expertise and knowledge. Please do get in touch to discuss any needs you may have in the areas of research, mediation, and training.

Here’s to the next two years!

Emma Webster, on behalf of the Live Music Exchange Team

Please note that this is a forum for discussion, dialogue, and debate, and posts and comments on this blog represent only the author, not Live Music Exchange as a whole, or any other hosting or associated institutions.


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