Entertainment licensing: changes under the Live Music Act
Changes to the 2003 Licensing Act. mean that you no longer need a licence for a range of live music performances that used to require one.
The Live Music Act 2012 amended the 2003 Act.
You no longer need a special licence to stage a live music performance if:
- it takes place between 8am and 11pm
- it takes place at a licensed premises or workplace
- the audience is no more than 200 people
You don’t need a licence to put on unamplified live music any place between the same hours.
Live music that doesn’t need a licence
Examples of performances that generally don’t need a licence under the Act are:
- spontaneous singing - eg people singing along to recorded music in a pub
- incidental music - live music that is incidental to other activities that aren’t classed as regulated entertainment
- rehearsals and sound checks (unless members of the public are charged admittance for the purpose of making profit)
- the playing of some recorded music as part of a performance of live music performance. For example, a drum machine or backing track being used to accompany a vocalist or a band would be part of the performance of amplified live music.
The Live Music Act regulates live performances, not recorded music.
Checking if you need a licence
You can check with your local licensing authority - usually your local council - if you need a licence for your live music event. You may need a Temporary Licence Notice (TEN) if you want to have your live music performance on an unlicensed premises.
If you wish to hold a live music performance at a licensed premises, you can check with the venue if they have the right licence.
Exemptions under the Act
Changes that the Live Music Act made to licensing under the 2003 Licensing Act are outlined below.
- It removed the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 persons on premises authorised by a premises licence or club premises certificate to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises (at a time when those premises are open for the purposes of being used for the supply of alcohol for consumption on the premises), subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate.
- It removed the licensing requirement for amplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm in front of audiences of no more than 200 people in workplaces not otherwise licensed under the 2003 Act (or licensed only for the provision of late night refreshment).
- It removed the licensing requirement for unamplified live music taking place between 8am and 11pm in any place, subject to the right of a licensing authority to impose conditions about live music following a review of a premises licence or club premises certificate relating to premises authorised to supply alcohol for consumption on the premises.
- It removed the licensing requirement for the provision of entertainment facilities.
- It widened the licensing exemption for live music that is integral to a performance of Morris dancing or dancing of a similar type, so that the exemption applies to both live or recorded music instead of just unamplified live music in that instance.
You no longer need a licence to put on live music in a workplace if the performance takes place between 8am and 11pm to an audience of less than 200 people.
Schools, colleges, village and church halls are all classified as workplaces, though the workplace exemption doesn’t apply if they have a licence to sell alcohol. But you can check with the venue if their licence allows for your performance.
Nightclubs and pubs
Amplified live music is allowed in pubs and clubs for up to 200 people before 11pm. Any nightclub / pub that puts on live music after 11pm needs a licence, even if they don’t sell alcohol.
Nightclubs still need licences for recorded music and the supply of alcohol.
Where conditions of a licence have changed under the Act
If the conditions of your licence no longer apply since the Act, there’s no need to have them removed from your licence or to have your licence reissued.
Breaches of the Act: who is held responsible
Someone commits an offence if ‘(a) he carries on or attempts to carry on a licensable activity on or from any premises otherwise than under and in accordance with an authorisation, or (b) he knowingly allows a licensable activity to be so carried on’.
If you’re only involved as a performer or participant of a live music event, you won’t be held responsible for any breach of the Act.
Noise regulations still apply to live music. Environmental health officers from your local council can still intervene if there are complaints about noise.
There is no limit on audience numbers for a performance of unamplified live music which doesn’t take place on licensed premises.
In all other cases, you’ll need a licence or Temporary Event Notice (TEN) if you’re organising an event that might attract more than 200 people - or where it’s difficult to restrict entry. You’re responsible for making sure the audience doesn’t exceed the numbers allowed, and you’ll be breaking the law if this does happen.
If you have more than one performance going on at the same time, you should make sure there’s a clear distinction between them - eg by holding them in separate rooms or on separate floors - so that it’s not treated as a single performance that might exceed the audience numbers allowed.
Live Music Act 2012: Home Office guidance on how to comply
The Home Office has issued revised guidance on complying with the 2003 Licensing Act, which reflects the changes to the law. Chapter 15 deals with entertainment licensing.
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