Soaring Insurance Costs Threaten Melbourne's Live Music Scene

Published January 19, 2024

Melbourne's beloved live music venues face a critical challenge, with insurance premiums surging to levels that could spell the end for some iconic spots. Several venue owners share chilling accounts of how insurance hikes threaten the industry's survival past the pandemic's devastating blow.

Insurance Hikes Push Venues to The Brink

Owners of live music venues throughout Melbourne are witnessing alarming increases in their insurance costs. This surge is forcing venues into harsh corners, which includes imposing stringent rules like prohibiting patrons from dancing while holding drinks. The implications of these sky-high rates go beyond quirky rules; for some, it might mean shutting down for good.

Drastic Measures and Dire Consequences

The owner of The Old Bar in Fitzroy, Liam Matthews, exemplifies the challenges being faced. His insurance bill sees a whopping 600% increase, from $10,000 to a staggering $60,000, within just two years. To comply with the terms of his renewed policy and stay afloat, Matthews had to establish an unusual rule: no dancing while drinking. Such measures, though necessary, detract from the overall experience that live music venues are known to offer.

Meanwhile, in East Brunswick, another venue owner, Sasha Janssen of Whole Lotta Love, reports her insurance skyrocketing from under $3,000 to almost $30,000 annually, a tenfold increase that contributes to the venue's closure.

A Call for Government Intervention

Faced with few choices, venue owners across Melbourne are raising their voices for governmental intervention and legislative reforms, seeking recognition of their plight and support to navigate this crisis. The live music industry, they argue, should not be lumped together with higher-risk establishments like nightclubs, as the nature of their business doesn't correspond with the extreme surges in insurance premiums.

The Broader Impact

This issue isn't isolated to live music venues. Other industries facing the public encounter similar daunting increases in insurance costs. Increases in premiums are a result of a complex mix of global financial pressures, including natural disasters and market fluctuations influencing risk assessments and insurers' decisions.

The live music industry's vibrancy and historical significance in Melbourne's cultural landscape are at risk. The potential loss transcends economics, hinting at a future void of the community connection and creative expression fostered by these venues.

insurance, venues, music