Sneaky Pete’s owner urges Nicola Sturgeon to have urgent rethink on ‘music ban’, claiming Scottish Government have got it wrong

Zero music is not a safer approach, and experts can prove it, insists boss of Cowgate live music venue.

Sunday, 16th August 2020, 3:27 pm
Updated Sunday, 16th August 2020, 7:25 pm

Edinburgh nightclub and music venue say the Scottish Government ban on background music is “misguided”, arguing that scientific evidence proves that controlled background music is actually safer than no music at all.

Sneaky Pete’s owner Nick Stewart said the popular Cowgate venue has been looking at the science around having live music set at a certain decibel level - and can prove that “a music ban is not safer than having properly controlled background music”.

“A music ban is not safer than having properly controlled background music,” said Mr Stewart, who also works for Music Venue Trust as Scottish Coordinator for the Music Venues Alliance, which comprises of 80 Scottish music venues.

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Cowgate nightclub and live music venue Sneaky Pete's.
Cowgate nightclub and live music venue Sneaky Pete's.

“There should be a compromise, with background music set to a maximum of 70dB(A).

“The Scottish Government has introduced guidance with measures, such as contract tracing, that have allowed hospitality venues to reopen safely. We are in favour of those, they should be properly enforced.

“Venues that flouted those rules caused the temporary lockdown in Aberdeen, and we really don't want to see that happen elsewhere. Public safety is a huge priority for us and we wouldn't reopen if we didn't think we could be safe.

“However, we think the ban on background music is misguided, and it is right that Scottish Government has brought it in only with a commitment to review it and, as Nicola Sturgeon says, ‘agree a more nuanced position based on an acceptable decibel level’.

“Clearly, people shouldn't be shouting over loud music at this time, so a nuanced position is exactly right. But that doesn't justify starting with a ban.

“Background music is safer than a music ban, and with experts on our side, we can prove it.

“We don't want loud music in pubs just yet, not until it's safe, but zero music is not a safer approach either – because it's proven that it's the sound of other people's voices that makes people talk more loudly, not controlled background music.

“Sadly, the Government got this exactly backwards - so we hope they will review this as soon as possible.

“As a compromise, there should be controlled background music, set to a maximum of 70db(A). Metering is easy and can be done with a cheap device or a phone app. Licensing Standards Officers and Environmental Health Officers could do it just as easily as operators and staff.

“I have brought together expert opinions from the top acousticians in Scotland and the rest of the UK into a report that was brought to government by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association and the Scottish Beer and Pub Association.”

Mr Stewart said the Scottish Government has agreed to consult with the experts they have put them in touch with.

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