A dead POPE, a musician’s dream - MusicNSW

Live Music in NSW has struggled for some time. Our venues have faced barriers that are not experienced in other States and as a result the people of NSW have not enjoyed the full richness and vibrancy that a strong live music scene brings to the cultural character of a State. In the wake of issues affecting live music venues like the Hoey and the Annandale, live music in NSW has received some of the greatest news in a long time. On Friday October 22 the NSW State Government announced changes to legislation would place live music on a even playing field to recorded music, sport and even the dreaded pokie machine, coming into affect on Monday October 26.

The changes mean that the Places Of Public Entertainment (POPE) licence is completely and absolutely irrelevant for venues. So much so that it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter what size, capacity or licence a venue holds – live music is now part of normal activities for pubs, clubs, cafés, restaurants – any premises within the hospitality industry is now a live music venue.

In the past the POPE has meant that a guitarist playing in the corner of, say, a small café would require a licence specific for entertainment, a cost prohibitive development application and unnecessary building standards. It was easier, cheaper and more profitable to put in a pokie machine, a big screen or co-ordinate a meat raffle than it was to support live music.

The new system, with a very dead POPE, means that live music is pitched on the same level as any other entertainment and has the opportunity to thrive in pockets of NSW it’s never even had a stage in. This is still relevant for venues who host live music under a POPE as they no longer need pay the licence, taking away that little bit more red tape and making live music more accessible to publicans, restaurateurs, club managers and baristas.

And if you’re an aspiring venue? No longer are special licences required to have live music– instead, if live music is part of your venue’s main business, then roll out the P.A. and mic up the guitars, you’ve got a venue. We’ll be expecting more guitars with our coffee as of next week.

How will this affect musicians and music fans in NSW? More venues, more gigs and more opportunities for musos. And not just pub style venues, live music will be pumping from every corner of this city, and beyond.

There are still issues, of course, but the potential that this deregulation opens up is exciting and signals a cultural shift and institutionalised recognition of the value of music. Massive thanks to the NSW Government – we’re thrilled to be around to watch the State’s creativity unfold with with these amendments. It is now up to venues, the artists and the music community to realise the potential.

If you would like any more information about these changes mean for you please visit the NSW Department of Planning, download one of the fact sheets below, or contact MusicNSW Creative Director, Eliza Sarlos on eliza(at)musicnsw(dot)com.

Fact Sheet for Communities

Fact Sheet for Musicians

Fact Sheet for Venues
Sound Advice – Reducing the risk of Noise Disturbance
Planning for entertainment guidelines
Planning circular – planning for entertainment