No-one is a fan of red tape and regulation – now the Live Music Act offers Licenced premises a rare chance to expand their business

In October a welcome piece of government de-regulation will come into force, namely the Live Music Act 2012. Its provisions are complex but the effect is relatively simple: live music is no longer a licensable activity, as are facilities for making music and dancing, and licencing conditions relating to live music no longer apply.

Obviously there are certain criteria to be satisfied for the Act to apply:

  • The premises must be open for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises while the live music is being performed. If the music is amplified, the audience must be fewer than 200 (not including staff and performers) and the music cannot extend outside the hours of 8am to 11pm Monday to Sunday.
  • If the music is unamplified, whether or not it is performed on licenced premises, then there is no limit to the audience numbers, and it no longer requires any sort of licencing permission, provided the music finishes at 11pm.
  • The Act only applies to live music – so DJs and any other type of recorded music or regulated entertainment do not come under the Act.

Licencing conditions relating to live music will therefore be dis-applied up to 11pm, so that where live music is performed on licenced ‘on’ premises then any condition on the licence which “relates to live music” has no effect provided that the above criteria apply (and in the case of many venues they will).  For example, a condition stating “doors and windows to be closed during regulated entertainment” or “noise limiters will be used during live music” won’t be enforceable – but it is wise to check with your local licencing authority first. Operators could if they wished, open doors and windows and switch off noise-limiters, but at the stroke of 11pm and if the audience grows to 201 or if there are other forms of entertainment being performed with the live music, the conditions will bite and they will be strictly applied.

So why so lenient? The main reason the Act was passed was because there are already ample measures in place for noise pollution officers to deal with noise nuisance and should there be complaints by neighbours and a premises licence review instigated the exemption can be removed.  If you have sensible noise conditions, you might want to stick with them as a best-practice guide.  Check your planning consents too as well as any other non-music licencing conditions.  In reality, there is only one chance to benefit from the exemption, but if you want to make the most of the new legislation, book some bands for October and look forward to your customers enjoying great live music without worrying about noise conditions.  Just don’t forget the neighbours!