NSW Shakes Up Gig Regulations

The Australian state of New South Wales took an important step toward relaxing oftentimes inefficient and expensive laws that govern its live music sector.

Planning Minister Frank Sartor released a draft State Environmental Planning Policy on June 1st, after lobbying from associations including MusicNSW, the Musicians Union and the Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA).

Under current regulation, a venue wanting to showcase music has to go through two lengthy processes. The first is to get permission to be a "place of public entertainment." The second is to get a planning approval, which includes advising nearby residents. This made it easier for NSW venue operators to drop live bands and turn to poker machines and large TV screens as their entertainment.

Now the red tape process will be streamlined to just a council inspector reviewing issues including safety, noise and patron numbers, with a turn-around approval of just a week.

"This is very good news indeed," said John Wardle of the MEAA. "It’s going to revitalize the live sector in this state."

NSW is the most populated state in Australia. But policies of more enlightened state governments have seen the live sectors thrive in other cities, like Melbourne and Brisbane.