The Live Music Act ('LMA') came into effect on 1 October 2012 and introduces a number of amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 (‘LA’) relating to the performance of live music in England & Wales.

In brief: What does the LMA do?

One of the main benefits of the LMA is to de-regulate live music in certain venues, meaning that you do not need live music to be authorised on your premises license.

The main points are as follows:

  1. The LMA removes the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people. The premises however have to be authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises. This however is subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of the premises licence or club premises certificate. So in practice what this means is that if there was a concern by a resident or by the council’s noise team, they could ask the Licensing Authority to consider imposing conditions to prevent noise nuisance.
  2. The LMA also removes the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people in workplaces not licensed under the LA. Such workplaces are widely defined in Health and Safety Regulations as ‘any premises or part of premises which are not domestic premises and are made available to any person as a place of work’.
  3. Lastly the LMA removes the licensing requirement for unamplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm in all venues. This is however, subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions on live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate as the case may be. Once again the premises must be authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises.

Bear in mind...

  1. It is important to note that the LMA only applies to actual live music, i.e. bands, two performers, solo artists, orchestras etc. The LMA does not apply to DJs or to any other type of recorded music; therefore, DJ sets/backing music played in a pub for example, would not be exempt and would be regarded as licensable. It is important to note that a problem would still arise if a band playing live music also used recorded backing music. In such a case most pub owners will almost certainly have permission on their licenses to play recorded music, but it is still a point to bear in mind.
  2. The licensing exemption for live music integral to a performance of Morris dancing or dancing of a similar type is widened by the LMA so that the exemption applies to live and recorded music.
  3. The capacity of the premises is irrelevant – it is the audience size that counts and so licence holders should be watchful of the audience exceeding 200. If the audience exceeds the 200 limit even by one person or the live music continues to 11:01pm, any music related conditions in the licence will kick in.
  4. Lastly, the exemptions in the LMA do not mean that premises cannot have noise abatement notices or other anti noise pollution measures taken against them. The LMA does not provide this level of protection and so owners should beware!

The LMA can certainly be seen as a step forward in the music as well as licensing world and has generally been greeted with optimism. It is hoped that the changes made will promote live musical performances in the UK and also promote British talent.