Edinburgh debates live music matters

A taskforce of local music professionals, Councillors and officials from the City of Edinburgh Council met last night (Monday 26 January) to address issues that affect the Capital’s live music scene.

At a meeting of the ‘Music Is Audible’ taskforce at the Usher Hall, members discussed noise policies and complaints in the city, and a shared aim of striking a balance that identifies with musicians and residents, and supports Edinburgh’s live music scene. The taskforce will meet throughout the year to identify and work through ideas.

The Council’s current policy on entertainment noise levels and the licensing and provision of live music venues in Edinburgh remain hot topics for the local music community. Other key topics include:

· The Council has an inaudibility ruling, which means complaints about noise levels at licensed premises must be investigated by the Council’s Licensing Standards.

· The concept of a Community Empowerment Bill which could ensure local community groups have an opportunity to bid for a venue of cultural importance should they be for sale.

· The importance of Council support for grassroots talent in the city, all year round.

Councillor Norma Austin Hart, Convener of Music Is Audible taskforce, said: “Edinburgh is a very compact city and we have a high number of tenement properties. We face an ongoing problem where live music attracts over 200 noise complaints a year from residents, particularly in the city centre, and in some cases this can have repercussions for live music providers.

“This taskforce and the series of meetings will allow us to hear the views from venue owners and musicians, and work across departments in the Council towards ideas for improving the experience of everyone in the city including those that live here. The initial group meeting has been very useful in homing in on key areas that need to be addressed, including how the Council can offer more and better support to the city’s music venues and performers. These are people who shape the culture of the city all year round.”

The event follows an open forum debate on 17 November 2014, when a jam-packed audience of musicians, gig promoters, venue managers and academics discussed the current live music offering in Edinburgh and debated the experience of musicians and concertgoers. 

The debate was organised following a commitment in June last year by the Council’s Culture and Sport Committee to increase understanding and awareness of the live music scene in Edinburgh, in order to capture the key issues and opportunities facing the music community in the Capital.

Karl Chapman, general manager of the Usher Hall, added: "The Usher Hall is a well placed venue to host this important debate, not just because it's cultural importance in developing the arts and live music in the city, but also because it's owned by the Council. We also recognise that for venues like the Usher Hall to be successful, we need a vibrant music scene at all levels: from learning and performing to developing audiences and improving the infrastructure.

"The meeting was an important milestone in bringing elected members, council officials and professionals from the music industry and the debate was fascinating as we managed to explore lots of issues from different perspectives. It has given everyone a sense of the tasks that lie ahead and the City of Edinburgh Council and the Usher Hall are committed to supporting Live Music Matters as we move forward."

On online debate continues on social media and residents can share thoughts on Twitter using #livemusicmatters, which has received over 2,000 comments and shares.

The Usher Hall is owned and managed by the City of Edinburgh Council, is an international concert which has a maximum capacity of 2,900, hosts around 200 concerts and sells around 220,000 tickets annually.

A summary of #livemusicmatters online debate from 17 November available as a Storify.

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