'Lower the Volume' - Live Music Solutions

According to Ernst and Young’s (2014) report on the size and scope of the live performance industry in Australia, the most recent figures show:

‘During 2012 the live performance industry generated revenues of $2.55 billion.’

A further breakdown of industry revenues showed that:

’The contemporary music category was the largest performance category, generating $830.9 million nationwide or 32.6% of total live performance revenue.’


Overall New South Wales (NSW) with 38% ($967.4 million) and Victoria (VIC) with 27.3% ($693.8 million) accounted for more than 65% of total revenues from live performances nationwide.

The live music scene, whilst still being the largest generator of revenues of all the live performance categories, is facing an uphill battle for existence, as more and more venues are forced to close their doors due to increasing numbers of noise complaints.

There have been many live music venue closures in recent years across all States, with Al Newstead from tonedeaf.com reporting the following live music venues as closing their doors in 2012:

• Phoenix Public House (Vic) • East Brunswick Club (Vic) • The Arthouse (Vic) • The Public Bar (Vic) • Abercrombie Hotel (NSW) • Tone Bar (NSW) • The Gaelic (NSW) • The Greenroom (ACT) • The Troubadour (QLD)

Howard (2014) believes venues will continue to close:

’With surviving popular music venues such as Collingwood’s Bendigo Hotel, Cherry Bar in ACDC Lane and Ding Dong Lounge in Market Lane all threatened with expensive renovations, limited trading hours or even closure as a consequence of residential developments going up uncomfortably close to their front doors.’

Bendigo Hotel publican and licensee Guy Palermo told Gough (2014):

’That without live music – the pub’s only drawcard – an interim order for the pub to stop live music until it can get an acoustic expert to carry out tests and works at the Johnstone Street Hotel would sound its death knell … I would have to close without live music – we don’t sell food.’

Guy Palermo alludes to wider ramifications affecting the whole of Australia’s music scene, in particular artists booked to play the venue and their fans. He states:

’Music fans are in uproar.’

Fellow live music venue owners share Palermo’s concerns about the shrinking live music scene: in Melbourne Cherry Bar co-owner James Young told Howard (2014) that:

’It is so sad to see a town that is internationally renowned as the rock and roll city of the world, under stress because of an obsession with increasing population and development.’

He goes on to highlight the unique aspect of his venue’s location:

’ACDC Lane is identified as a special cultural place, where people have the opportunity to stand outside and socialise while the music of the venue flows into the vibe of the lane…however if we have to airlock the venue because of noise complaints we will lose that.’

Bill Walsh, owner of Ding Dong Lounge which has received hundreds of dollars in fines due to an ongoing issue with one neighbouring resident, believes logic must prevail:

’Residents need to understand that when living close to a live music venue there will be noise.’

Matthew Guy, the current Victorian Government Planning Minister, has identified Melbourne’s live music scene:

’As one of Melbourne’s greatest tourism and cultural assets.’

The Government has announced 36 reforms to support the ailing live music industry. One of the main reforms is the implementation of an ‘agent of change principle’ where the party that changes pre-existing neighbourhood conditions takes the financial responsibility for soundproofing.

Therefore, residents who move into an area with existing live music venues would foot the bill for any soundproofing work, whilst if a venue starts to host live music events in a residential area venue ownership would be responsible for covering the cost of any soundproofing work.

For owners of residences living near live music venues, the major source of noise is air-borne noise from instruments, speakers and voices. Noise will travel outward from the venue to other areas including other residences freely unless it is absorbed or reflected. The ability of air-borne noise to spread through walls and ceilings to and from a source is known as ‘cross-talk’.

Typical standard wall and ceiling constructions often do not provide an effective buffer to prevent the penetration of noise energy. Walls and ceilings acoustically enhanced with Pyrotek Noise Control products can greatly reduce or prevent noise energy affecting surrounding residences.

To enhance a wall’s performance in reducing noise, a sound absorber such as Sorberpoly should be installed into the wall cavity to absorb noise energy. Over the top of the Sorberpoly, a sheet of Pyrotek’s industry-leading flexible mass-barrier Wavebar appropriately fixed is recommended. The final layer of wall construction should be a high-density plasterboard layer. Higher noise control requirements may require further construction treatments.


The combination of Sorberpoly and Wavebar is the ideal soundproofing solution for nearby residences; together they will greatly improve sound insulation and prevent the coincidence dip of typical walls. The dense core mass-layer of Wavebar prevents the transmission of sound through walls, ceilings and floors, reducing the noise generated from mechanical equipment, engines and electronic audio technologies such as radio and television.

Wavebar should be installed into the ceiling of a home theatre room to stop cross-talk penetrations. It is common for these cavities to be overlooked and become a path through which noise can travel.


For live music venue owners, Pyrotek’s Echohush Cosmo room acoustic products are an essential element of any entertainment room.  Echohush Cosmo Panels are designed for superior noise absorption, along with aesthetically pleasing designs that will blend in seamlessly with any décor.

Noise generated from surround-sound systems will reflect off any hard surface within a theatre room. This leaves sound echo (reverberation) in the room, which can detract from the hearing experience as echoes compete with each other in a small space. Echohush Cosmo panels absorb sound, reducing echo and thus enhancing the audio outcome.


Available in multiple designs and colours and as simple as hanging a picture frame to install, Cosmo panels can greatly enhance your enjoyment of the latest Hollywood blockbuster.

No matter which side of the agent of change principle you fall on, with over 30 years’ experience, Pyrotek Noise Control has the knowledge, expertise and products to create a turnkey solution to reduce your noise problems.

Whether it is acoustically enhancing walls or ceiling with our industry-leading flexible mass-barrier Wavebar to reflect and absorb the transmission of sounds, or installing our decorative acoustic panels to maximise noise energy absorption, and improve room acoustics while providing strong visual qualities to suit any décor, Pyrotek has the solution to suit any budget or situation.


Reference List 
1. Carpet, S, 2014, ‘Live music reforms on way’, The Age, 17th January 2014, retrieved 14/07/2014
2. City of Sydney Live Music and Live Performance Taskforce, 2013, ‘2013 Live Music and Performance Action Plan’, City of Sydney Live Music and Live Performance Taskforce, retrieved 14/07/2014
3. Donelly, B, 2014, ’Residents to be surveyed on noise form music venues’, The Age, 24th May 2014, retrieved 14/07/2014
4. Dowling, J, 2010, ‘Planning protection music to an industry’s ears’, The Age, 7th October 2010, retrieved 14/07/2014
5. EY, 2014, ‘Size and Scope of the Live Performance Industry’ (On behalf of - Live Performance Australia) Ernst and Young, retrieved 15/07/2014
6. Gough, D, 2013, ‘Bendigo Hotel under threat over live-music noise complaints’, The Age 26th November 2013, retrieved 14/07/2014
7. Howard, J, 2014, ‘Rock venues urge Victoria to honour pledge on noise complaints’, 3rd April 2014, retrieved 14/07/2014
8. Newstead, A, 2014, ‘How Much Is The Australian Live Music Industry Really Worth?’, 20th June 2014, retrieved 14/07/2014
9. Taylor, A, 2013, ‘City of Sydney needs to dial up the volume on live music scene: report’, The Age 4th November 2013, retrieved 14/07/2014
10. Taylor, A, 2013, ’Sydney live music: report tackles noise issue’, The Age 5th November 2013, retrieved 14/07/2014