Scotland is the only country in the world to completely ban background music to combat COVID-19, according to sources within the international community.
Today (Monday 28th September), the Night-Time Industries Association Scotland (NTIAS) launch the #DontStopTheMusic campaign to fight for an end to the background music ban. The campaign hopes to raise awareness around the ban by calling on people to share their favourite song of all time along with the #DontStopTheMusic hashtag.
Very few countries globally have seriously considered this option and the hospitality businesses affected in Scotland are asking for clarity on the reasons behind the ban, which is compounding an already pressurised environment for the night-time economy. Music is central to creating a welcoming environment for customers in already struggling venues right across Scotland and is also vital to mental health and well-being for staff and customers alike.
The Scottish Government’s choice to prohibit background music in such difficult times risks further diminishing the country’s state of well-being and acts as a total block on important expressions of culture and creativity.
Experts in acoustics have questioned the scientific rationale behind the ban and cited evidence that appropriate and well-managed background music does not interfere with the ability of individuals to communicate in any hospitality setting. This refutes Scottish Government concerns that background music would lead to breaching of physical distancing requirements or the potential for individuals to shout to be heard. Evidence also suggests that customers are inclined to ‘lean in’ more in silent environments to avoid being overheard.
Businesses in the night-time economy are calling for an end to the background music ban and for the introduction of robust venue specific measures to ensure operators can set appropriate levels of background music, giving regulators the confidence that it will not interfere with vital public health goals.
Michael Grieve Chairperson on NTIA Scotland said, “The total ban on background music is having a severe effect on many hospitality businesses leading to completely sterile environments which some have likened to visiting a library. It seems completely disproportionate relative to other settings and whilst our industry is totally committed to the serious public health imperatives which the Scottish Government is focused on, our already damaged sector is in serious danger of being permanently wiped out unless this ban is removed.”
Donald Macleod, CEO Holdfast Events Ltd, said, “The sound of silence is now killing much of Scotland’s hospitality sector and beleaguered night-time economy, don’t let that be our nations Covid legacy. In the words of Plato ..Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything”
Lindsay McIntyre, Director KSG Acoustics, said, “It remains our view that well-managed background music can be safely reintroduced to hospitality settings across the sector. We are already working with the Scottish Government to achieve this and look forward to a swift resolution to the ban.”
Andrew Fleming Brown, Managing Director, SWG3, said, “The background music ban is the kiss of death to ambience within the hospitality sector. There has not been any scientific evidence presented to support the ban and, in fact, the only evidence indicates it has the reverse effect. Please get behind the #DontStopTheMusic campaign to
Paul Smith, CEO CGL Leisure, said, “A ban on background music is a step too far. It is a knee jerk reaction by government mandarins and is based on no scientific evidence. It is counterproductive. Where there is no ambient sound people lean in towards each other when talking which is a greater risk of aerosol spread.”
Stuart McPhee, Director at Siberia Bar & Hotel, said, “The vacuum of atmosphere in any hospitality setting as a result of the ban on background music is having all kinds of profound consequences. Well run, safe and controlled hospitality environments losing money despite their best efforts, customers leaning in to avoid overhearing conversation, staff dealing with constant issues such as customers playing music on their phones. But to top it off, the general public are staying away because in their own homes, there are none of these draconian measures. #DontStopTheMusic”
Tony Cochrane, CEO TGC Leisure, said, “This ban has taken the heart and soul out of Scottish hospitality. Remember Music isn’t a Virus it’s a healer.”
Brain Fulton, Director Holdfast Events, said, “Music is hugely important to society; it elevates mood and facilitates communication which goes beyond words. Scotland is renowned for being the world’s most welcoming country, and its blanket prohibition on background music goes against the basic principles of hospitality, turning a warm and welcoming atmosphere into a cold and sterile one, which can only be damaging for our country’s reputation across the globe”.
Gavin Stevenson, Director – Mor-Rioghain Group, said “The ban on background music is not supported by the evidence, causes significant harm to the hospitality industry, and leads to counterproductive behaviours with customers leaning in closer for private conversations or drinking in uncontrolled environments such as house gatherings where no Test & Protect data is kept. We call on Scottish Government to urgently work with the industry and reverse this ban.”