Looking to boost profits, diversify or introduce a new attraction?  Now could be the time. 

From 1 October 2012 you will be able to book a band and hold a small gig without needing to obtain a licence.  This is because the Live Music Act 2012 comes into force and de-licences live music in certain venues as long as certain criteria are observed.

What does the 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.

The Act does not apply to DJs or recorded music just to live bands, duos or solo performers.

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

Noise Nuisance
Whenever you host live music you need to be mindful of the many legal provisions which aim to combat noise nuisance. These will still apply despite the new Live Music Act. 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 noises still continues then the license 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 new legislation (e.g. don’t play beyond 11pm or have more than 200 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.

Revised Guidance
DCMS has produced a revised draft of Chapter 15 of the Guidance to the Licensing Act covering live music and regulated entertainment.  The draft is currently out for consultation.  The aim is that the guidance will be introduced by 31 October 2012.

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.