The Live Music Act 2012 de-regulated live music in certain venues, as long as certain criteria were observed, meaning that it was possible to hold a small gig in your pub or club without needing to obtain a licence.  The Legislative Reform (Entertainment Licensing) Order 2014, in force from 6th April 2015, further deregulates live music.

 What does the 2012 Act allow?

  • The venue must be licensed for the sale of alcohol for consumption on the premises i.e. a pub, club, restaurant or bar
  • Alcohol must be on sale during the performance

If the above apply then live music is deregulated either where:

  • It is unamplified and takes place between 8am and 11pm with no limit on the audience number; or
  • It is amplified, the audience is 200 or less and it takes place between 8am and 11pm.

As long as the above criteria are met any conditions attached to your licence relating to live music will not apply.

Changes to the law

The Legislative Reform (Entertainment Licensing) Order 2014

Live music – audience limit

Since the Live Music Act came into force DCMS have carried out a review to ascertain whether the provision of live music has increased without negatively impacting on licensing objectives (set out in the Licensing Act 2003). These cover:

  • prevention of crime and disorder
  • public safety
  • prevention of public nuisance
  • protection of children from harm.

The review found no evidence of a negative impact on the licensing objectives or evidence from stakeholders that the provisions were having a positive effect on trade.

As a result of the review the audience limit for amplified music sees an increase from 200 to 500 as of 6 April 2015.

Recorded music

The Live Music Act 2012 did not apply to recorded music, only live music.  Another change that the industry should welcome is that playing of recorded music is deregulated, in alcohol licensed premises where music is played between 8am and 11pm, to an audience of up to 500 people.

Noise nuisance – a reminder

Whenever you host live music or play recorded music you need to be mindful of the many legal provisions which aim to combat noise nuisance. These still apply despite the Live Music Act and the Legislative Reform (Entertainment Licensing) Order. In particular Local Authorities have powers to immediately deal with excessive noise coming from licensed premises, during night hours – between 11pm and 7am.  Local residents can make complaints against outlets which can be acted on immediately.  Following a complaint a Local Authority can immediately issue a Warning Notice which comes into effect 10 minutes after it is issued.  If the noise continues to exceed permitted levels then a £500 fixed penalty can be given.  If the noise still continues then as licensee you can be convicted and fined up to £5,000.

If your current licence has conditions attached to it which aim to limit noise, e.g. not allowing crowds to gather on the pavement outside, then it might be sensible to continue to observe these.

Removal of the exemption

If you currently have licence provisions relating to live music then these will no longer apply in the situations set out above.  However, it is important that you observe the conditions of the legislation (e.g. don’t play beyond 11pm or have more than 500 in the audience) otherwise if you are brought to a review the licensing authority will be able to impose conditions on your licence and remove the new exemption from your premises.


DCMS has produced Guidance to the Licensing Act covering live music and regulated entertainment.  The Guidance reflects the position under the Live Music Act 2012 but will need to be amended to reflect the provisions of the Legislative Reform (Entertainment Licensing) Order 2014.

The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.