Universities announce first music UK census

Music Census
Music Census

The UK’s first music census commences this March. Image by Ed Schipul. Creative Commons

Three top universities are to hold a census of the UK’s live music scene, described as a Springwatch for music

Street performers, choirs and bands playing arena shows will be the subjects of this project, with the aim to monitor the challenges facing artists and venues during what has been a difficult decade for the live music scene in the UK.

As of midday 9 March, for 24 hours, the UK Music Census, conducted by researchers and volunteers from the universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Glasgow will travel to Brighton, Southampton, Birmingham, Oxford, Leeds, Newcastle and Glasgow to collect their findings.

“Live music in the UK – from The Beatles and the Sex Pistols to West End musicals and Glastonbury – has transformed our culture, yet it is constantly under pressure,” said Dr Matt Brennan from the University of Edinburgh.

Adding: “This census will help give us an accurate snapshot of the scene’s health.”

The UK’s music industry is worth £3.5bn, with live music accounting for £662mn of that total. A great deal of the revenue from live music comes from large music venues, such as the O2 arena, London. But with 40 percent of London’s small live music venues closing over the past 10 years, it has become harder for new acts to establish themselves.

In 2015 live music was the fastest growing area of the music sector in terms of gross value added (GVA), increasing by 37 percent. However, it is difficult to pinpoint the types of venues where this revenue was made. But it is believed that in the same year grassroots venues – those with a capacity of 1,500 or less – attracted a combined audience of 5.6mn.

Dr Brennan and his colleagues will document all the details of the performances available to music fans, including genres, ticket prices and audience demographics. This will be combined with an online survey, which will seek to find out the amount people spend on and how far they travel to attend gigs.

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