Live Music Research

With live music facing significant challenges, this project investigates live music activity in Birmingham and the impacts of these contemporary issues.

Investigating the challenges the live music industry is facing


  • Dr Craig Hamilton 
  • Dr Patrycja Rozbicka (Aston University)
  • Dr Adam Behr (Newcastle University)

Research background

This project is funded by the Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC), which is led by Nesta and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. A further research funding bid was submitted to UKRI (decision pending).

Alongside the three host universities of the research team, the project actively involved local and national stakeholders from the live music sector.

Live music forms a key part of economic and cultural activity at local and national levels but is currently faced with significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the repercussions of the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union.

Research aims

The project aimed to:

  • Produce the first comprehensive survey of live music activity in the city of Birmingham;
  • In doing so, develop a replicable methodology that could be applied to other cities;
  • Reveal concerns about and coping mechanisms for challenges facing the sector, in particular those related to Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic.

How has the research been carried out?

The project relied on two key types of data collection and analysis:

  • Quantitative data from and about music venues, and the activities of stakeholders within the live music sector, was gathered using a combination of web-scraping, crowd-sourcing and through the development of an interactive map;
  • Qualitative from stakeholders within the sector was gathered through online surveys and a series of consultation events organised by the project.

Outcomes and impact

The research has revealed the breadth and scope of live music activity in the city, and the perilous position the live music sector is in as it faces and attempts to respond to the twin challenges of Brexit and COVID-19. The methodological innovations around data collection and interactive mapping tools are now being adopted by other cities.

The research team have regularly contributed to news media articles, radio broadcasts and industry/policy consultations  around the COVID-19 crisis facing live music.