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Who’s running the show? The regulation of live music in England and Wales

Bryant, Lucy Elizabeth (2022) Who’s running the show? The regulation of live music in England and Wales. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.00004599


Live music is a significant feature of cultural life in England and Wales. This generally takes place within an expansive, international live music industry, which like others, is regulated. This thesis examines this, exploring three elements of this regulatory landscape in turn: planning regulation; the areas of live music regulation which cite ‘safety’ as a goal (health and safety; licensing; event security); and employment regulation. While planning disputes surrounding live music venues often centred on noise, this was a proxy for what was at stake – how space can be used and by who – and making successful claims to this partly depended on participants’ economic, cultural, and social capital. Safety meant different things in different contexts, to different actors. Limited health and safety inspection saw event producers and teams define working safely for themselves, with commercial interests sometimes becoming a dominant concern. Efforts to comply with event security and licensing regimes often focused on crowd management, with specific audiences – sometimes defined by class and race – becoming a focus for ‘safety’ concerns. Compliance with various elements of employment regulation appeared inconsistent (including working hours violations and missing hearing protection equipment) as was its enforcement. Subjects also reported technically compliant but nevertheless exploitative or otherwise negative working conditions, including poor pay and insecure contracts. This thesis examines how the live music industry is shaped by this regulatory landscape. Reflecting on regulation’s productive power, three patterns are identified within the industry – that a) large scale actors dominate, b) profits are prioritised as public and worker safety and welfare are undermined, and c) the racial and class hierarchies found in society more broadly are reproduced. Considered together, these patterns suggest that the productive power of regulation has contributed to the development of a live music industry formed in the image of neoliberalism.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2022 Lucy Elizabeth Bryant
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Sets: Departments > Social Policy
Supervisor: Newburn, Tim and Cheliotis, Leonidas

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