Bring Back Our Music! Overturn the ban: allow music to be played in venues across Scotland

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The ban on music in Scotland is having a devastating impact for venues and musicians. With no scientific evidence for the ban reducing the spread of COVID-19, operators and musicians are calling for the ban to be overturned. To ensure the impacts to public health are minimised, we propose a two-phased approach:

1. Allowing background music to return at a level of 70dB(A) - the advised level by leading acousticians.

2. The full reintroduction of music as ‘entertainment’ (DJ, live, karaoke etc) as soon as it is safe to do so. 

The ban has had an immediate adverse effect on the hospitality industry. A survey via The Dram magazine reported that 47% of respondents had noticed a drop in revenues of between 30-40%. Only 13% said the ban had had no impact. 

Furthermore, the ban adversely affected the music industry, with bands and musicians who were already struggling due to the loss of gig income, now having to deal with the loss of public performance royalties. Current Scottish Album Of The Year winner Brian d’Souza (aka Auntie Flo) said “musicians no longer rely on record sales for income, our two main sources are gigs and royalties. As soon as lockdown happened our gigs evaporated overnight and now this ban on music will significantly impact on our royalty payments too”.  

With the economic impact already affecting operators and musicians, we took a closer look at the science behind the ban. Lindsay McIntyre, leading Scottish Acoustician and part of NEXSTART Noise Group said “In short, there’s no scientific reason to ‘ban’ background music but we acknowledge that it needs to be approached with care.”

As well as running Sneaky Pete's, Nick Stewart works for Music Venue Trust as Scottish Coordinator for the Music Venues Alliance which contains 80 Scottish music venues: 

"Background music is safer than a music ban, and with experts on our side, we can prove it. We don't want loud music in pubs just yet, not until it's safe, but zero music is not a safer approach either - because it's proven that it's the sound of other people's voices that makes people talk more loudly, not controlled background music."

"Metering is easy and can be done with a cheap device or a phone app. Licensing Standards Officers and Environmental Health Officers could do it just as easily as operators and staff.”

James Thomson is the owner of The Witchery restaurant and the five star Prestonfield House Hotel in Edinburgh:

“Having no music at all is the kiss of death in terms of atmosphere for us and there is no logic behind such a blanket ban. At five star level we work on a two-metre distance all year round anyway so this background music ban is just ridiculous.” 

Dominic Crolla, director of La Locanda in the Royal Mile in a report for the BBC:

"My customers come to hear classic Italian music while enjoying Italian food but now the atmosphere is ruined with this ban. [The government] are just guessing and it just doesn't add up."

This  petition is proposed by Open Ear, Scotland’s leading background music agency. Founded in 2006 by Scottish Album of the Year winner DJ and music producer, Brian d’Souza. It works with hundreds of businesses in Scotland, including G1 Group, Di Maggios, Montpeliers, Buzzworks, SSE Hydro, King Tuts and many more. Open Ear pays more than £200,000 per annum in music royalties to the PRS and PPL.