At England's Trades Union Conference held in Liverpool this week, Britain's Musicians Union proposed regulations that would protect live-music venues from possible closure after receiving noise complaints.
The motion — which passed — mirrors a worrying trend in the United States, as well, where developers are building residential properties in close vicinity to long-established live-music venues.
For example, San Francisco's downtown, "south of Market" club scene saw the closing of several live-music venues a few years ago after builders erected a number of lofts, offices, and apartments in the trendy neighborhood.
It had been a community of clubs, restaurants, bars, as well as small factories, mom and pop stores, trade-only design warehouses, and offices that closed around 6 pm. When residents started moving in, the complexion of the area changed, and noise complaints prompted a few dance clubs and live-music bars to shut down.
In passing the British resolution, Musicians Union general secretary John Smith stated: “Venues must, of course, stick to the terms of their license and residents must be able to complain if they do not comply or are causing a genuine nuisance. But equally, flats which are built above, adjacent or nearby to an existing music venue should not take precedent over an established institution. The onus should be on the agent of change, and developers who build flats and houses next to venues must be required to let potential residents know so that they can make an informed decision about whether they would like to live there, as well as ensuring adequate soundproofing.”
What are your thoughts on this matter? As live music appears to be threatened in many communities — by wavering profitablility for club owners, slowing attendance, and other factors — does it make sense to allow unreasonable noise complaints from new neighbors to prompt long-standing venues to close?
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