Live Music Act 2012



The provisions of the Live Music Act 2012 (in force from 1st October 2012) are intended to belatedly provide a substitute for the much mourned ‘two in a bar rule’ which was lost when the Licensing Act 2003 came in to force.   Other provisions designed to replace it were confusing and rarely used.   It has taken some 7 years of pressure from interested parties, consultations, and market research before the Live Music Act emerged.  In the interim years there has been evidence produced indicating that live music in smaller, secondary venues has substantially decreased. Many up and coming live music acts have arguably not had the same opportunities to gain the exposure needed to progress to professional standards and fame.


The Live Music Act amends the Licensing Act 2003 and in essence provides that live music will no longer be an activity requiring a licence provided it is between the hours of 8am and 11pm as mentioned above and

  • It is in venues licensed for the sale of alcohol on the premises and the premises are open and available for such sales during the time the live music is provided and if the live music is amplified the maximum audience is 200 persons, no limit if un-amplified
  • In premises which are not licensed for the sale of alcohol the live music is

un-amplified (strangely, one might think, in a venue not licensed for alcohol sales any amplified live music will still require a licence or Temporary Event Notice)

  • In workplaces not licensed for the sale of alcohol before audiences up to 200 people


The Act has also removed the ‘provision of facilities for making music’ and ‘provision of facilities for dancing’ from the definition of licensable activities.

More importantly, in any premises licensed for the sale of alcohol any condition attached to the Premises Licence relating to live music will cease to have effect.

However, there is a caveat to all this:-


If there is any complaint as to the operation of the premises for live music which results in a review of a Premises Licence then the licensing Authority can re-impose such conditions and indeed impose additional conditions including that the exemption for live music no longer applies to those premises.


Whilst the new exemption is music to the ears of many licensees they are being warned not to allow their excitement to lead to uncontrolled exuberance.  If the live music leads to noise nuisance, complaints as to the type of clientele being attracted, or noise/disturbance from clientele outside the premises the Premises Licence holder may face a review of the licence and could then be back to square one!


Neither does the exemption prevent action being taken under other regulatory legislation such as the Noise Act 1996 and the Environmental Protection Act 1990.


© Sandra Graham, October 2012

Horsey Lightly Fynn solicitors and town planners

3 Poole Road, Bournemouth, Dorset BH2 5QJ

Tel: 01202 551991    Fax: 01202 295403   Internet:

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