Deregulation under the Live Music Act 2011

A partial deregulation of live music has passed its latest regulatory hurdle, having been cleared in the House of Commons.

The private members bill introduced by Lord Clement Jones and presented to the Commons by Don Foster MP seeks to ease the red tape involved in putting on live music under certain circumstances.

The motivation for this private members bill seems to be two-fold; firstly to encourage more live music in small venues and secondly to remove the need for some premises such as schools, village halls and community groups etc. to require a premises licence to put on such events. 

We must not confuse this private member’s bill with the greater change to the Licensing Act 2003 being proposed by the government, which may yet see further deregulation of regulated entertainment.


The Live Music Act 2011 is seeking to specifically change two key fundamentals:

  1. To remove the requirement for a licence for unamplified live music between the hours of 08.00 and 23.00 to audiences of any size
  2. To remove the requirement for a licence for amplified live music between the hours of 08.00 and 23.00 to audiences of no more than 200.


These activities will apply differently to different types of venues:

  • Licensed Premises – As these activities will no longer be considered licensable activities, any existing conditions on the licence which refer specifically to ‘live music’ will not apply to them.
  • Workplaces – Defined as a premises not licensed for the sale of alcohol or regulated entertainment and which is defined as a ‘workplace’ in the Workplace (Health, Safety & Welfare) Regulations 1992. In workplaces the provision of live music (as described in points 1 & 2) would not be considered a licensable activity and as such would not require a licence.
  • Unlicensed Premises – There will be no requirement for any premises to hold a license for the activity of unamplified music (as described in point 2) no matter how large the audience.


The private members bill also seeks to clear up the requirement to hold a licence for Regulated Entertainment in relation to ‘Entertainment Facilities’. Entertainment facilities cover such areas as the requirement for a premises licence for a dance floor, musical instruments, etc. The Live Music Bill 2011 will remove the ‘Entertainment Facilities’ as a licensable activity.

The Live Music Bill 2011 does not completely deregulate these activities as it might seem at first glance; some safeguards have been put into place for local residents and other interested parties. For example if public nuisance is caused through noise from live music, any premises with a premises licence could still be subject to a premises licence review. The bill allows for these new live music exemptions to be unapplied to specific premises as a result of a review, which would effectively once again make them licensable activities for the premises concerned.

The bill also seems to allow live music to be considered as incidental to some other activity; as recorded music is currently when it is ‘incidental to some other activity which is not itself a description of entertainment’ as described within the Licensing Act 2003. With recorded music ‘incidental’ generally refers to ‘background music’, the same would therefore apply to live music.

These regulations will amend the Licensing Act 2003 and as such only apply to England & Wales.

The bill will now have to be passed back to the House of Lords for the final stage on the 10th February 2012 and if as most observers expect, this ‘minor hurdle’ is overcome, the Live Music Bill 2011 will be enacted into law. A note of caution this will not take place on February 11th, but at some later date following secondary legislation being put into place.

It is going to be interesting to see the effect of this bill and it implementation. There have already been concerns aired by Environmental Health Officers from a number of councils as to the impact it will have on Public Nuisance in the form of noise disturbance. However they still have the ability to deal with licensed premises in the same way they do currently, as well as through the Antisocial Behaviour Act 2003 and noise abatement legislation.

There is however likely to be a change in the way any new licence conditions are worded when added to new or varied premises licences going forward; they are likely to make them more general so they apply to the premises as a whole, rather than specifically applying to live music. We may also see more conditions being attached to all new / varied premises licences, where in the past they might not have been required if regulated entertainment (specifically live music) was not included on the licence; in an attempt by local authorities to protect interested parties from potential nuisance.

I will provide a further update when the Live Music Bill 2011 becomes law and clarify its effects in more detail at that time. Watch this space…


Related Stories

Live music red tape likely to be relaxedBBC

Live Music Act 2011 – House of Commons


Date – 24th January 2012

Submitted by – Peter Mayhew


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