INCREASING tax paid by music venues could pose a major threat to the UK’s live music scene, according to Scottish academics.

The organisers of Britain’s first live music census say a major overhaul of commercial property rates, which will be revealed in Wednesday’s Budget, could see a huge rise in costs and force many venues to close.

Matt Brennan, of Edinburgh University, who is leading the project, said venues operating at grassroots level were particularly vulnerable.

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He said: “Venues around the country have been telling us that they already operate on thin margins, so proposed increases in rateable values of up to 55 per cent in some cases will have a significant impact.

“The UK Live Music Census will be very important in identifying challenges that the industry faces, such as rising rates and other issues. It will give us a detailed picture of what exactly it means to be a venue owner, a musician and a live music lover in 2017. Our hope is that the census will be a vital tool in strengthening a much-loved part of the UK’s culture.”

Described by its organisers as a “Springwatch for live music”, the census is led by the universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Glasgow.

For 24 hours, volunteers will track performances in cities across the country from lone buskers to massed choirs and from dance floors to stadium concerts.

There will be co-ordinated censuses in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford, Leeds, Southampton and Brighton, with volunteers attending live music events including Olly Murs at Leeds Arena, Nicola Benedetti at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, RnB in Oxford, and jazz in Newcastle.

Jo Dipple, chief executive of UK Music, one of the partners of the census, said: “The findings for each of the six cities will inform academics, entrepreneurs and music fans alike.

“It will help organisations like UK Music to understand better the pressures on music businesses and venues so we can lobby for the most effective policies in each area. We know that a disproportionate hike in business rates could pose a serious threat.”