New research highlights the economic importance of live music to Birmingham and the West MidlandsNovember 14, 20223 min read
- It found local authorities need to more explicitly recognise the economic, social and cultural value of live music and live music venues
- The report calls for dialogue between music stakeholders and government
- The research is published by Aston University and supported by the AHRC-funded Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre.
New research by the Birmingham Live Music Project (BLMP) highlights the huge economic value of Birmingham’s live music scene, the vital contribution small independent venues make, the ongoing impact of the pandemic and what is needed to support the recovery of the sector in the city.
The research is published by Aston University, with colleagues from Newcastle University and Birmingham City University, and supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre.
In 2019, the UK’s live music sector was valued at over £1.3 billion. After almost a decade of strong growth the sector helped push the UK music’s overall GVA from £3.5 billion in 2012 to £5.8 billion in 2019, the outbreak of the global pandemic brought it to a near standstill.
This paper explores, through a local lens and a focus on Birmingham, the challenges stakeholders across the live music sector have faced in recent years.
The research finds that small live music venues are the lifeblood of this financial, cultural and community asset for the city.
In 2019 Birmingham helped bring 877,000 music tourists to the West Midlands, with a total cultural spend in the region of £252,000,000 (UK Music). But during summer 2020, the research published today found, Birmingham’s live music capacity of approx. 98,000 dropped by around 75%. This impacted ticket prices, the availability of events across the city, and the economic viability of shows – while some venues could stay open, they couldn’t make a profit.
The report makes clear independent venues need protection and support particularly in the wake of the pandemic. It calls for dialogue between music stakeholders and government in advance of the 2025 review of the EU-UK Trade and Co-Operation Agreement to identify the best means of reducing friction and support for the efforts to improve the Agreement, for example work on border force training, expanding the number of checkpoints where carnets and Music Instrument Certificates can be checked, reducing bureaucracy for live event transport and haulage, examination of further measures to develop the ’dual registration’ system for specialist hauliers to ease pressure on touring.
Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, a senior lecturer in politics and international relations at Aston University and one of the report authors, said:
“Local authorities need to more explicitly recognise the economic, social and cultural value of live music and live music venues, including grassroots venues, to their region(s).
“Environmental, health, culture and city regeneration strategies have to take account of the existing and huge potential contribution of live music to the city and region.
“What is needed is a cross-policy approach, implementation of a Night-time Industry Impact Assessment and dialogue between local authorities and the music sector, where the recently launched West Midlands Music Board could play a role.
“We would like to see the creation of information hubs to support local venues and audiences with initiatives such those undertaken by the Liverpool City Region including a Music Fund which supports activities of the Liverpool City Region Music Board as well as helping with funding applications and advice.
You can read the full report here.
Dr Patrycja Rozbicka Senior Lecturer
Dr Rozbicka works on interest groups in policy-making and live music industry regulation in the UK.