Why NSW Is Celebrating Massive Changes To Live Music Laws

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NSW has just made monumental changes that will end outdated restrictions on live music venues and lead to more investment in the arts.

It’s the biggest overhaul in the history of live music in the state. What exactly are the changes? And could they breathe new life into Australia’s cultural landscape?

What’s Changing For Live Music?

Last week NSW tossed out some very old regulations, which a lot of people argue have been limiting the arts industry for years.

The outdated restrictions will be removed before 2021 and instead, much more pro-music and pro-venue initiatives will be introduced under something called the Liquor Amendment Bill.

The changes pretty much mean the government no longer gets to decide on really industry-specific things like, what genre of music a venue can play, what instruments talent can perform with, and even which direction they face when they play.

Even disco balls will no longer be banned – which yes, in some places before, they were.

More small bars with live music and smaller art spaces will also be created, and licensed venues following the new rules will be rewarded with up to 80% discounts on licensing fees.

What Does This Mean?

It’s a big win for the NSW arts sector, especially since all other states have already invested in either entertainment precincts or licensing discounts. And people in the industry say these changes will be crucial to the recovery after COVID.

It’s also hopefully going to change the cultural landscape of towns and cities for the better.

More people going out to live music gigs or walking through art spaces, means more atmosphere and character in our cities and towns.

Even though the government’s support for the arts industry during COVID has been extremely questionable, the pandemic has arguably fast tracked this new support, which lobbying groups have actually been campaigning for years now.

That’s because of laws that have been around for decades, like the ones limiting regional pubs to hiring cover bands and banning disco balls.

These laws were ultimately turning people off investing in entertainment venues and holding the arts industry back from developing.

They’ve also meant that musicians have had fewer opportunities to really breakthrough on both a national and international scale.

Without enough medium-sized venues on offer, there’s been an obvious lack of places to play for up-and-coming artists who can’t fill a massive stadium yet but still have a big local following.

Is It Enough To Save Live Music & The Wider Industry?

So, can this huge overhaul help save a struggling industry?

Some industry figures are arguing that yes, this will make a huge difference but only if venue owners, promoters, booking agents and artists get on board with the new initiatives.

And it’s sort of up to these people to really encourage the public to come along too and support the changes.

The Takeaway

These new changes to NSW venue regulations are a really encouraging step forward for the arts industry, and it’s now up to the community – the people who are going out to gigs and enjoying the arts – to ensure those regulations were a good move on the government’s part.

This is a real opportunity for us to rally behind venue changes if we want a new and improved nightlife, and if we ultimately want to keep it from completely dying out.