In May 2016 Music SA undertook a census of live music of licensed premises in greater Adelaide, to take a snapshot of the state of play. Compiled by Music SA staff, the data was gathered from venue websites and social media pages, and various gig guides online and in printed form. Further information was sourced through word of mouth, working the phones, as well as Music SA and industry contacts. The Live Music Office provided assistance for the project.

Download the 2016 Adelaide Live Music Census

The same exercise was undertaken in May 2015 so that Music SA is now able to present comparative figures. In both years the research has been a best effort exercise to capture as many gigs as possible, but may not be conclusive as some venues may have been unintentionally overlooked. However, what this gives us is a very good indication of the state of play, and is the least of what happened during the month of May. May was selected so that figures were not skewed by heightened cultural activity during February and March, nor the spring and Christmas seasons, which tend to be busier times for musicians.

Music SA were able to undertake a more thorough investigation this year and included 20 suburbs not included last year that accounted for 27 venues and 104 gigs. Of these the biggest were:

  • Mt Barker (6 venues and 25 gigs)
  • Warradale (2 venues and 18 gigs)
  • Tea Tree Gull (2 venues and 16 gigs)
  • Aldinga (1 venue 8 gigs)

There were 35 more gigs in comparison to the same suburbs last year even though there was one less Saturday in May 2016 compared to May 2015.

  • 42% of last year’s suburbs increased live music gigs
  • 7% of last year’s suburbs maintained the same number of live music gigs
  • 52% of last year’s suburbs decreased live music gigs


  • 1101 gigs were presented
  • 208 venues hosted live music
  • Hotels provided 899 gigs across 153 venues – (81.6% of gigs and 73.5% of venues)
  • There were 23 gigs across 6 Entertainment Venues, 47 gigs in 13 Clubs, and 36 gigs in 6 Restaurants
  • Only 2 small venue licences had live music, hosting 4 gigs across the month. This category of liquor licence was introduced in 2012 to support the development of the live music sector in South Australia
  • Gigs were 33% original and 67% covers
  • The suburb of Adelaide provided the most live music
  • 14 of the Special Circumstances Licences were Hotels.

Ian Horne, General Manager of the Australian Hotels Association (SA Branch) was delighted with the results of the latest survey, “With 82% of all live music gigs played in a hotel, South Australian hotels continue to be loud and proud supporters of live music and this of course is good for the music industry, the hotel industry, jobs and the State”

Longer term, the project provides a baseline of the live music scene from which to evaluate the effectiveness of strategic policy delivery such as regulatory reform as well as to assist in determining funding priorities. Case in point is the presentation of live music in the small venue license category.

Whilst there are now over 60 small venue licenses, this census has shown that only 2 of these stage live music. It has been identified that while the license category was created to encourage live music, entertainment has been restricted through the planning approval process. Music SA and The Live Music Office are advocating for the Development Regulations to be amended to exclude ‘low risk’ live music and performance from being considered development.