Darcy Byrne, mayor of the Sydney suburb of Leichhardt, has called for a lockout laws exemption to be placed on live music venues. Cr Byrne would like to see a new definition of live music, though one that excludes certain DJs.

As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Leichhardt has seen several iconic music venues go bust in the wake of the lockout laws, which has prompted Cr Byrne to put a proposal before council ahead of the state government’s lockouts review.

Cr Byrne says live music venues should be exempt from lockouts to mitigate the devastating effects of the laws on the industry, but said an exemption would require a legal definition of what constitutes live music.

“To be frank, we may find that not every DJ will qualify as a performer of live music and the definition might end up being more supportive [of] bands and other performers,” he told Fairfax.

Cr Byrne said a precise definition would have to be agreed upon in order to avoid pubs and other venues from taking advantage of a loophole by “paying some guy to play a Spotify list”.

The plan has been backed by Kerri Glassock, director of Sydney’s Fringe Festival and owner of Venue 505, who said there’s a difference between a live music venue and a venue “with just a DJ in the corner and people are just there to drink and the music is ancillary”.

According to research performed at Venue 505, alcohol consumption changes when patrons are watching live music. “People come in and have a drink, and then bar sales drop while the band is performing. During the intermission they have another drink,” Glassock said.

Meanwhile, Cr Byrne is calling on inner-city councils to commission research from the National Live Music Office to prove binge drinking is less likely to occur in venues that host live music.

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“The government is not going to just abolish the laws and we need smart, nuanced amendments if we want to save Sydney’s nightlife and music scene,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

“For too long in our city we have been undervaluing the contribution those small -and medium-sized rooms make to cultural life. They are the spaces musicians forge careers in. Those spaces pay musicians’ mortgages and feed their kids,” added Ms Glassock.

This past weekend saw 15,000 Sydney residents gather to protest the state’s controversial lockout laws, which have caused the closure of some 42 venues in the city and precipitated a 40 percent decline in live music ticket sales.

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