Sydney’s live music scene is having a revival – with venues increasing by 84 per cent in 12 months

It's music to our ears

Winnie Stubbs
Written by
Winnie Stubbs
Lifestyle Writer
A crowd dancing
Photograph: Anna Kucera | Soda Factory

If it feels to you as though Sydney’s live music scene is having a moment, you’re not wrong – and it’s not just thanks to Taylor and Mr Again.. The number of small venues hosting live music in the Emerald City have soared by 84 per cent in the past 12 months – proving the success of NSW's new Vibrancy Reforms. And the good news is, the boost in live shows across the city (and beyond) looks like it's here to stay.

Back in March 2023, the NSW Government made it easier for all types of venues to host live music, reducing the barriers to entry, and actively encouraging venues to host live music in certain areas in the city (particularly the designated Special Entertainment Precincts – with the lively Enmore Road being the pilot and Balmain’s Darling Street next on the list). The extended trading hours for live music venues – along with a new “commonsense” approach to noise complaints – form part of the government’s six-pronged plan to amp up Sydney’s nightlife. The approach involves offering a two-hour extension in trading hours to venues hosting live music, and according to a recent report, 112 venues have opted in to the scheme since March 2023. That increase brings the number of licensed venues claiming live music incentives from Liquor & Gaming NSW up to 243.

As well as offering incentives for extended trading hours to those venues playing host to live music, the Vibrancy Reforms have made it more difficult for venues to be shut down; with single noise complaints no longer enough to shut down an event. The first round of the Vibrancy Reforms passed Parliament in November, and the direct support to those venues facilitating live music also includes an 80 per cent reduction in the annual liquor licence fee. We’ll drink to that.

“Our Vibrancy Reforms will give pubs, clubs and other live music venues the confidence they need to hire staff, trade later and host performances, providing an economic boost for hundreds of venues across regional and metro areas,” said NSW Premier Chris Minns.

As he says, the take-up of extended hours for live music hasn’t been limited to Sydney; with 40 venues across regional NSW also taking up the initiative. Under the reforms, venues approved for live music with Liquor & Gaming NSW are allowed to trade for an extra two hours on the nights when they provide live entertainment for at least 45 minutes after 8pm.

Keen to get amongst it? These are some of the best venues for live music in Sydney.

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