Nov 28th, 2017, 02:50 PM

The Axed Music Law

By Laurence Hewitt
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/GE Deutschland
The 696 form was accused of stifling the London music scene.

And now, a sigh of relief. London's mayor Sadiq Khan is bringing an end to Form 696, a London music law accused of being "racist" by many in the music industry. The form is currently under review by the Met and will be binned entirely early next year. The form was initially introduced in 2005 by the London Metropolitan Police in an attempt to stop violence and other serious incidents at London concerts and clubs. The form needed to be submitted 14 days in advance of an event taking place in any of the 21 London boroughs, and it prompted venues to describe the genre of music that would be played, and, more controversially, the details of various ethnic groups likely to attend.

The specific question of ethnic groups was removed in 2006, but replaced with questions regarding details of the target audience of the shows in question. The form also required the names, stage names, phone numbers, and private addresses of promoters, DJ's, and artists performing. While the London form underwent some changes, the BBC reported that in 2017, 16 police forces across the UK were using the original unaltered form. There is no word on whether these 16 other forces will be scraping the, formally London exclusive, form.

London rapper Giggs has had many of his shows in London canceled due to the 696, saying that the police saw his shows as too much of a risk. Giggs told of these incidents with the police: "They need to work with us. If they think there’s a threat then help us – put some police out there and work with us rather than just shutting us down.” Mr. Khan said he initiated the first review of the form in September of this year as he believed, "This process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres," he also said that this was hopefully going to make London: “a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres."


London's mayor Sadiq Khan. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons/Steve Punter

While the critical idea of the form was to ensure the safety of Londoners, but safety should never come at the price of targeting minority groups. Live music is the pinnacle of the art, the build-up of anticipation of the crowd, the shared feelings of excitement, the performers taking the stage and connecting with the audience to create something new every time, without live performances so many bands will be left in the dust for more appealing "radio" music. Joseph Gamp of the Metro said, "The targeting of particular sub-communities and culture goes against the very message that London sells to the rest of the world."

What London sells is being one of the most diverse cities in the world and being a cultural touchstone since practically the beginning of time. Forms like 696 stifle artists, how can an emerging act get their music out there if they can't even play a show in the biggest city in the country? The recent development signals good things regarding London moving forward, Mr. Khan is listening to the public and is taking many great strides to improve London and make it the genuinely inclusive place it should be. Forms like 696 are hopefully just the beginning of the changes to come.