Music Doesn't Make Us Violent Anymore!

Success! Today an agreement was signed by both the Victorian State Government and music representatives, that will see the end of live music being linked to violence in liquor licence conditions.

MANY THANKS to the hardworking, persistent and talented team from FairGo4LiveMusic, S.L.A.M. and Music Victoria (in no particular order) - your passion and determination has made this state a better place, in a very real way.

Read all about it here:
Breaking News: Live Music Proxy Removed mess+noise
Live music groups celebrate "historic" agreement with Victorian Government The Music network
A Thank You from Helen Marcou, SLAM…
The Agreement (pdf) on SLAM website

and here's the PRESS RELEASE from
S.L.A.M / FairGo4LiveMusic / Music Victoria

It’s official: “Live music does not cause violence”

We are pleased to announce that after eight months of intense negotiation SLAM, Fair Go 4 Live Music and Music Victoria have reached an agreement with the Victorian State Government.

It’s official: “Live music does not cause violence”. The inappropriate link between live music and alcohol- fuelled violence is dead! “The Government has acted to remove the link between live music performance at licensed premises and crowd controller licence conditions” is an extract from the Live Music Agreement signed today by Patrick Donovan (Music Victoria), Quincy McLean (SLAM), Jon Perring (FG4LM), Tony Robinson Minister for Consumer Affairs & Mark Brennan Director of Liquor Licensing.

The SLAM Rally marked a sea-change for the arts in Australia. It was the largest cultural protest in Australian history. For the first time, cultural policy became an election issue." Ben Eltham, AICV conference 2010

For the 20,000 lovers of live music who marched onto Parliament House on February 23rd 2010 and all the other supporters since, your voice has been heard. Today is an historic day. February 23rd was about calling for changes; today an agreement has been reached.

This will create a business environment where venues can put live music on, even take risks on edgy genres. This is really important for the live music scene and that it’s treated fairly by regulators.Jon Perring (FG4LM)

“The importance that the music of Victoria has to its community, industry, economy and its musicians has been officially recognised. The threat to the viability of our small venues has been stopped and our culture can be safeguarded. We believe all policy should be assessed by its impact on culture because through culture we truly live. Our cultural time is our community time; it is our celebration, our laughter and our mourning. Music is everywhere, let’s keep it that way.”
Quincy McLean (SLAM)

We would like to thank the Victorian State Government for hearing the voice of their community and working to a resolution with the Live Music Agreement, and we look forward to the active implementation of this agreement. Both the Liberal Party and Greens have policy relating to liquor licensing and Live Music befitting music’s universal cultural importance, for which we thank them.

Victoria’s Live Music community is now being recognised at a State and Local level with councils such as City of Yarra and City of Melbourne forming their Live Music Strategies. Our peak body, Music Victoria, has been established as an advocate for all sectors of the music community.

This decision recognises the wonderful contribution from Victoria’s passionate and thriving music community and cements our reputation as one of the live music capitals of the world. We thank those who made it happen and look forward to seeing the industry flourish in this new nurturing environment.Patrick Donovan, CEO Music Victoria

Live Music is now on the political agenda and should be nurtured and protected into the future. Thank you to everyone who made this a possibility.

- SLAM, FairGo4LiveMusic and Music Victoria

Good work, everyone.

A New Director!

Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our non-esteemed Director of Liquor Licensing Sue MacLellan has either been given the flick or wisely left of her own accord, at the end of her 5-year term, and we have a new Director, Mark Brennan.

He starts work tomorrow, Saturday May 8, according to the Government's press release. Which is here: Appointment of new Director of Liquor Licensing.

From reading the press release, it appears to me that Brennan has a solid background in dealing with and supporting small businesses, which is great, and music is high on the agenda, which is extra great. We'll see how the next couple of weeks unfold, I guess.

There will no doubt be quite a few articles written about this—I will keep collecting them in the Links section… see the May 2010 page.

Brennan's appointment is for 2 years—by 2 years’ time the amalgamation of Liquor Licensing with Gaming will be complete. (There was an article about this restructure in this week's Melbourne Times, #17, p14)

Live music 'not tied to violence'
It's not a long article, published in today's Age, but it packs a punch. It begins by saying Victoria Police and Melbourne City councillors have backed the music industry's view that live music does not lead to violence.

It has a few more very good points, including:
"Victoria Police's Senior Sergeant Michelle Young, who leads Melbourne's regional licensing unit, said most venues she worked with were well managed and co-operative. She did not believe there was a link between live music and violence."

Read it here: Live music 'not tied to violence'.

Till next time ~ Robin

Funniest. Speech. Ever.

I’m not sure whether it's comedy or tragedy, but either way you MUST read about the speech made by the ALP's Matt Viney, in Parliament.

We got the lowdown on how he knows there are problems at live music venues, because FORTY YEARS AGO he went to a Spectrum concert and saw—nudge, nudge—people passing around a BIG CIGARETTE! For more about the speech, plus the speech itself, look here: Matt Viney's petition speech.

Then there's the Best Speech Ever, given by Greens MLC Sue Pennicuik after she presented the Live Music Petition to Parliament. Look here: Petition speech by Sue Pennicuik. Sue's onto it.

In fact I've created a whole new section on the Greens on this website, find it here: The Greens.

The FairGo4Live Music petition was handed to Parliament recently, hence the above speeches. I’ve done a page about it: Live music petition

Roll-back continues (slowly)
Last Friday we had the very good news The Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick had its "high risk" conditions more-or-less rolled back. They still have to provide security guards if there is "entertainment" after 12.30am, but that's not a problem because their music is over by then.

But what is "entertainment" supposed to mean, and are other venues going to have "music" changed to "entertainment" on their licence conditions?

What about stand-up comics, or maybe mime artists… will these be requiring security guards in the near future?

Maybe as well as S.L.A.M. we'll be seeing some new groups joining the campaign, like…

S.L.A.C. Save Live Australian Comedy
S.L.A.T.N. Save Live Australian Trivia Nights
S.L.A.P.R. Save Live Australian Poetry Readings
S.L.A.M.A. Save Live Australian Mime Artists

I'll stop right here, and hopefully this is just a little rant and common sense will prevail.

Kate's article
In a busy week for the campaign, there was also Kate Shaw's article published in The Age, 15/4. It's well worth a read—find it here: Music venues still threatened as Tote lesson not learnt

Cheers ~ Robin

Roll-Back Begins

The George Hotel, Hamilton

The roll-back that shouldn't even be happening has begun. One premises has had the liquor licence condition requiring security guards any time music plays lifted… the George Hotel in Hamilton. Word came through to the music crew late Monday.

It shouldn't be happening because the onus to remove a "guilty until proven innocent" licence condition, that says if you have music in your joint you must hire expensive security guards, should not be on the owner.

There should be no link between music and "high risk" conditions in the first place, and the Government and Liquor Licensing are showing no sign of removing this link.

Moreover, it has been 6 weeks now since the Government recommended to Liquor Licensing that there be more discretion in the crowd control requirements, as a result of the Live Music Accord, and it has taken this long for one place to be successful?

Not only that, only 6 businesses have applied, of which only 4 are eligible for the exemption, out of 700 venues with the high risk conditions on them—mainly because the process, while free, is difficult, daunting and not guaranteed of success.

Also, this roll-back is only for the security guards requirement, not surveillance cameras, as this is all the Live Music Accord covers—The George in Hamilton still has to provide expensive cameras on "all entrances and exits, bars and entertainment/dance floor areas" if they have music. Look up their licence here.

I'm not saying this is necessarily a problem for them—for all I know they may have these in place already. It's just that as things are, this condition stays on all the affected venues, who may only want to have a folk singer play to a mature group, and CCTV is an expensive set-up that may well discourage a venue from putting on music.

John Brumby and The Tote
That John Brumby and Richard Wynne (the Tote's local MP) should imply to the press they contributed to the Tote reopening, by attending the announcement and dishing out platitudes about how they support live music, is galling in the extreme, when you consider their inaction. See this article in mess+noise: Tote Reopening: A Brumby Photo Op?

This is how Quincy McLean, SLAM organiser, described them on Monday, before news about The George came in:

"They've broken the legs of all these venues and have promised to give out pairs of crutches that no one has yet received."

Well, one venue now has crutches.

I'm looking forward to SLAM's 'how to vote' cards, coming to a polling booth near you, in November's election.


Relevant links
By George! A licensing win, but only six bother to apply
Here's jeers to Brumby's latest liquor moves

Rally, Accord & Greens

Photo by Joe Armao

I'm starting to wish I wasn't doing this website… it's getting depressing, and I naively didn't think the issues would last this long.

The situation is so ridiculous that Blind Freddy can see the problems (no offence to blind people), and so easily fixed that one could be forgiven for assuming this would happen quickly.

In case you are new to this issue, two folk singers playing in the afternoon now requires the hiring of expensive security guards at many hotels and bars, even with a very small audience, and this expense simply stops the music.


This can be fixed with a stroke of the pen by the Director Of Liquor Licensing, Sue MacLellan, because she can change the regulations at any time. Legally, they are in place at her discretion.

Rally and accord
The rally was great—see the SLAM website and the new official SLAM Facebook page SLAM (Save Live Australia's Music) for videos and photos.

However, most of the media reports straight after said it was a win for music, because music representatives and Government signed an accord the day before, yet for the venues, musicians and audiences sadly affected by all this, NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

My new page about the accord is here: Live Music Accord

Photo: Original Bagpipe player from the classic AC/DC music video of "It’s A Long Way To The Top" - by Carbie ©

The Greens
I'm beginning to think The Greens might be our only salvation. They support common-sense changing of the regulations, and threaten, I think, three ALP-held seats in the election at the end of the year.

Please don't believe the nonsense that they voted against music when they didn't support a poorly-worded Liberal motion in January—it just ain't true.

Read all about it on my new page: The Greens. (And I just want to say here I haven't been involved with The Greens in any way.)

Greens MLC Greg Barber looking out for music, 23/2.

Till the next time ~ Robin

Where Are The Police?

I was fascinated by this report in today's Sunday Age: Hundreds caught in CBD police blitz

A "surprise" police blitz last night on drunken behaviour in the CBD lead to 69 arrests, 22 people banned from entering licensed venues, and 368 people given $234 fines.

My question in this… why are the police letting these people get away with it on all the other nights?

And why is our government so, so stupidly attempting to deal with this behaviour by introducing fees and regulations that punish safe music venues—and consequently the creative work that goes on in them?

With the obvious result that the only safe place to go out will be the pictures at Chadstone (I would not describe Crown Casino as a safe place).

Victoria has had drunken yobs for a very long time, but it has only been since so many suburban venues have been taken over by pokies that so many of them have headed into the CBD for their "night out".

Wouldn't it be a more creative approach to do something about decentralising entertainment venues?

Lunch outcome
Read about the meeting between government and music representatives last Wednesday in Perring: ‘No Deal’ For Live Music Just Yet

Better yet, read the MINUTES of the meeting from Dave Graney, here: Dave Graney: ‘We Need A New Proxy!’

I was rather alarmed to read of Brumby's rule change suggestion: No security demands if music is over by 10pm and not if there are less than 50 people in a venue open until 1am. Weird. But at least he talked about new rules.

There is another smaller meeting tomorrow between music people and government representatives, to try to sort something out.

~ Robin

Government Caving In?

There have been quite a few signs the government is changing its tune. I hope they are, and that it goes further than a cosmetic "we saved the Tote".

I've updated the following pages, with information and links from the past few days.: Government attitude, Sue MacLellan’s attitude and the Links page. You’ll find Jon Faine’s radio interview of Sue MacLellan about fees in there.

Cheers - Robin

Government Attitude

I've added a section to this website today about the government's attitude to the damage they are doing to Victoria's music culture.

The new section is here: Government attitude

There are pages about Premier John Brumby, liquor licensing boss Sue MacLellan, and also about the debacle being endured by Swords Wine at the Vic market.

I've also added some info about changes to venue capacities, on the Pubs page.

An item in Crikey yesterday suggested the government were about to change their ways, and start being realistic about license conditions.

Here's hoping for a quick resolution.

Cheers - Robin

License Fee Hikes

I've aded a new page today about changes to liquor licence fees. Information is starting to come out, now that the fees have been in place for about 3 weeks.

This is a much wider issue than music venues, but I do think the new structure shows the utter incompetence of the State Government and Liquor Licensing, and THAT is relevant to music venues, at the moment.

Here's the new page: Fees. I've also added more fallout to the Fallout page, and links to the Links page.

By now you probably know that Chris Morris the owner of the Tote building is in talks to keep it running—there's a Chris Morris Rocks Facebook fan page!

Chris on the Tote:
"It has a huge reputation in Melbourne and it's just been fascinating seeing all the commentary and the reaction of people and the Facebook sites and everything else.
"Therefore we have no desire for it to close down and we just hope it can continue in its current form and we're pretty confident that will happen."

Well good!

Hope this flows on to all the other music venues affected.

Cheers - Robin

The Tote Closes

The Tote Collingwood
So today the publican at The Tote announces The Tote is closing. He says the liquor license conditions make it impossible to keep going.

Apparently the State Government believes that the MUSIC at The Tote could cause the type of violence found at CBD nightclubs, because the draconian conditions on The Tote’s license only come into effect if there is live music. What a joke.

Here’s the press release from Bruce Milne, publican:

It’s last drinks at the Tote. This weekend.
I know it’s sudden. I didn’t plan it to be like that.
I can’t afford to keep fighting Liquor Licensing. The “high risk” conditions they have placed on the Tote’s license make it impossible to trade profitably. I can’t afford the new “high risk” fees they have imposed. I can’t afford to keep fighting them at VCAT. I can’t renegotiate a lease in this environment.
So, come into the Tote this weekend to say farewell to the sad staff and to feel the sticky carpet for the last time.
I don’t believe the Tote is a “high risk” venue, in the same category as the nightclubs that make the news for all the wrong reasons. Despite being on a rough little corner of Collingwood, the Tote has had very, very few incidents. As a local police officer once said, “The Tote’s the quietest pub in the area.” (!).
It’s not dumb luck that the Tote has escaped serious violence. I believe the business has been run responsibly. People don’t come to the Tote to fight. They come because they have a passion for music and love to be in an historic venue that reeks of that same passion.
The Tote is (sorry, was) an important cornerstone of Melbourne’s rich and diverse music community. It’s too late to save the Tote but not too late to try and save other inner city venues that are feeling the same pressures.
I know the sudden closure affects a lot of people. Most importantly, the hard-working staff that are being forced onto the dole queue. And the bands and artists that have had their gigs pulled from under them.
Anyway, I don’t want to get maudlin (or viciously angry). The era of the Tote is over. If you love the place, come and have a beer with us this weekend.

Bruce Milne

So The Tote is seen as a “high risk” venue. Funny, I felt totally safe at the Tote… I think because it had music. Would I go into one of those yucko pubs on a corner somewhere, those ones with no music? Naah - I wouldn’t feel safe.

~ Robin