Read about the fallout from the government’s efforts to rid the state of alcohol-related violence.

For stories about visits to venues by music police, music being cancelled and how venues, musicians and communities are affected, see my Stories page.

Below is a list of damage done—I’ve lifted most of these from the small venues site (thanks small venues!) Most of these things occurred in the second half of 2009—there have been many more this year but unfortunately they aren’t being documented anywhere.

  • A singer/guitarist has lost two weekly gigs at different pubs.
  • A successful band playing balkan music has reported difficulty in securing restaurant gigs due to venues' concerns.
  • It has been reported that a north-east suburbs RSL club has had to cancel gigs.
  • A fundraiser for year 10 girls traveling overseas to help save the bears and other good deeds has been slugged with security costs.
  • A gig in a well-known Fitzroy pub has apparently been cancelled because the bass player used an amp, thus changing the nature of the music from background to amplified.
  • A hotel in Warburton were given their new licence late last year and they can only have music with 2 security guards etc, so they won't be doing anything for a while. The Drifters have played up there over the past few years.
  • A Greek tavern (general licence) has had to cancel its two bouzouki players. See this story in the second half of this 7.30 Report story (includes video)
  • A North Fitzroy pub has had to cancel its live music, including a 15 year residency and a 4 year Thursday residency. Minimal amplification was used. A small audience has lost a very special part of its weekly culture.
  • A South Melbourne pub has cancelled its Sunday night band. Minimal amplification, an audience of 60+ year-olds, seated, dining in the back room. This gig has been re-instated, probably as a result of an application for Variation of Licence (at a cost to the venue and, I would imagine, with lots of stress).
  • A Brunswick bar has been fined $700 for allegedly infringing on its "background level" amenity clause (on-premises licence).
  • A Brunswick pub has cut back on its live entertainment by cancelling two nights early in the week.
  • Another Brunswick pub is reported to have cancelled some music.

  • A hotel has been “in trouble” for playing a jukebox.
  • Did I mention The Tote? And all the musicians who would have played there, and could have sold their CDs at the gigs?
  • Bush pubs are really struggling, see Fee hikes hit country pubs

This EXCELLENT article Melbourne’s Culture Taking a Beating has more examples.

The hidden fallout
Well, to anyone who is involved with the music industry, the hidden fallout isn’t so hidden.

There’s a climate of fear out there, particularly amongst venue operators, because they don’t know which way MacLellan and the government are going to jump. They can’t plan anything.

For example, the liquor licence fees went up considerably for 2010. This money (say, a few thousand dollars) had to be paid in full by the end of the year (or Jan 21). No monthly payments, and the increase came in very suddenly at the end of the year. Operators had to pay the whole lot or they were out. But they don’t know what other decisions are going to be made, such as whether they are going to be slapped with “high risk” conditions, so they can see if it’s worthwhile keeping going.

And a big part of this fear is the fear of speaking out, because their licence could be threatened. This has lead to secrecy and information not being spread about. I would love to give more specific examples of unfairnesses on this website, but I can’t.

The government
All of this affects four groups: the small business owners, their employees, the musicians and the audiences. Shouldn’t all four groups be looked after by the government?

The Brumby government has made a big deal in the past of how they look after small business, and they say small business provides employment and economic health for the community. Lots of students work in pubs and cafes. Yet here they are treating small music venue operators as if they are something that crawled out from under a rock. And should be stamped on.

Also, potential operators are going to think twice about setting up if their licence conditions are going to be draconian. Which adds up to far fewer venues playing real music.

Musicians are defintely losing work because of the ridiculous licence conditions. Thanks Brumby for your encouragement of a music culture in Victoria. (BTW I personally include real DJs here - they are affected too).

And the punters? Well they can all go to those clubs where the violence actually occurs.