Making Noise in the 21st Century – Part 1

Tom Langley Discussion Leave a Comment

Are you being told to keep it down?

If you are a musician, band member, music producer or DJ the chances are at some point in your life you will have encountered complaints about noise. Whether they came from your parents telling you to turn your music down as a teenager, or from disgruntled neighbours banging on the wall, it can be a frustrating situation for both parties.

The complaints may have come at a crucial time when you were practicing or rehearsing, and honing your craft. They may have come during a great gig, just when you need the freedom to make as much noise as possible!

This likely led to you simply having to turn the volume down to an agreeable level to keep the peace. However if an agreement cannot be met, a similar situation can lead to disputes and in extreme cases court injunctions, fines and even a prison sentence for the noise makers.

In the vast majority of cases most of us manage to live and let live in relative peace, but if you are business owner in which making lots of noise is sewn into the fabric of your trade, such as a music studio, club or live venue then these issues can be a lot more difficult to deal with.

Recent high profile campaigns involving the Ministry Of Sound in London, and The Fleece in Bristol have highlighted the potential issues for inner city music venues in close proximity to private dwellings. Both cases pose questions about the rights of the new residents to a peaceful existence over an established business, and the potential loss to the local economy.

In the case of Ministry of Sound – one of the UKs most recognised global music brands – they have recently won their battle to stop the development of new flats opposite the club, which they feared would lead to complaints and ultimately closure of the venue.

In terms of volume, audience and noise levels however both of these cases are small fry in comparison to the challenges faced by festival and concert organisers with thousands of revellers turning up, to turn it up over a weekend.

And it seems that even the biggest names in the business are having issues with their neighbours; Live Nation, and now AEG have been struggling with noise restrictions over the British Summer Time events in Hyde Park, with Iron Maiden front-man Bruce Dickinson saying that the stage was “too quiet” and “the noise restrictions at Hyde Park are silly”.

So what is noise? What are the current laws in the UK regarding noise and complaints about it, and how do they affect the music community?

I’m going to look at these questions and more in Part 2…

If you have been affected by noise issues during your music making or performance, then feel free to comment and share your story.

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