'Live Venue Music Crisis': Report Lock-Out Laws Killing Sydney's Music Scene

Just days before a vote on whether to relax NSW's controversial lockout laws will take place, a parliamentary committee has found the laws have put the live music scene in 'crisis'.

Excessive restrictions on live music venues across NSW should be lifted  to address the live music “crisis”,  a parliamentary committee has recommended.

The inquiry found the crisis extended from local pub bands right through to the national touring circuit.

There were 437 submissions and 11 public hearings held over the past year, and the committee head from artists including the Hoodoo Gurus, the Screaming Jets and Urthboy.

Urthboy was among several musicians to give evidence. IMAGE: Getty

It heard evidence the 2014 lockout laws were a "sledgehammer" to Sydney's nightlife and put "the nail in the coffin" of the contemporary live music scene.

The controversial lockout laws were introduced in 2014 in an attempt to combat late-night street violence.

“The committee does not believe that there is a link between live music, in and of itself, and violence,” said the report.

Evidence obtained by the inquiry revealed the music sector is "slowly disintegrating" due to neglect by successive governments.

IMAGE: Getty Images

"Stakeholders, including venue owners and prominent musicians, clearly indicates that lockout laws have contributed to a reduction of live music bookings, a contraction of the live music scene and the closure of numerous live music venues in inner Sydney," the report states.

The music and arts economy in New South Wales report did not recommend direct changes to the lockout laws, but it did include the suggestion that NSW amend liquor legislation to remove “outdated” conditions for liquor licences that place “unnecessary restrictions” on live venues.

"We heard that current planning, liquor licensing and noise provisions simply make it too difficult for small-medium venues to provide live music."

Sixty recommendations have been made to the government, including an increase in funding for contemporary music of at least $35m over four years, to match funding in Victoria.

The report also recommends that the Premier create a minister for music, the arts and culture or appoint a minister for music -- in addition to the existing minister for the arts.

APRA AMCOS, a music rights organisation representing over 100,000 artists, welcomed the findings.

“This report provides a road map for NSW to reclaim the state’s critical role as a true international hub of arts and culture in the region.

We call on all parties across the parliament to continue the bipartisan work of the committee and implement all sixty recommendations,” its CEO Dean Ormston said.

The report comes just days before the NSW legislative council is due to vote  to proposed changes to the lock out liquor laws.

Since the laws were introduced NSW Police say they've seen a “dramatic reduction in assaults and alcohol-related crime. However, other stats demonstrate an increase in violence in neighbouring areas which fall outside of the lock out regulations.

Dozens of pubs and clubs in the CBD and King Cross have also closed over the past four years.

READ MORE: Angry Anderson Welcomes Easing Of Sydney Lockout Laws

Contact the author alattouf@networkten.com.au

Featured Image: Getty