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Melbourne Music Venues Struck By 500 Per Cent Increase In Insurance Premiums

29 June 2023 | 9:35 am | Mary Varvaris

"This issue is the greatest threat to live music in Australia that we've seen in decades."

A Place To Bury Strangers @ Cherry Bar

A Place To Bury Strangers @ Cherry Bar (Credit: Yana Amur)

James Young, the owner of Melbourne venues Cherry Bar and Yah Yah’s, has lamented an uncertain future in live music as insurance premiums have increased by 500% in the last year.

Joining Nine’s A Current Affair on Tuesday night (27 June), Young said his premiums at Cherry Bar have increased from $400 to a staggering $2500. The situation is even bleaker at Yah Yah's, with the insurance premium at $600 a week leaping to $3500 per week over the last year.

"It's just unfair that last year's profit is paying this year's public liability insurance,” Young told A Current Affair.

To make matters worse, small business owners who haven’t been operating venues as long as Young has are in real trouble, with Young adding, "I hate to say it, but this issue is the greatest threat to live music in Australia that we've seen in decades, and if it's not addressed now, we'll lose 30% of live music venues in Australia. That would be a tragedy.”

Revealing his reaction to the dramatic insurance premium increases, Young said, "Our broker came back to us with the figure we were going to have to pay, and we said, 'This has got to be a joke’”.

Andrew Bassingthwaighte, from the Australian Live Music Business Council, informed A Current Affair that other venues are paying insurance over $10,000 for their premiums, with others shelling out "up to $160,000". 

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Due to the price hikes, Bassingthwaighte has learned that up to 400 music venues in Victoria could close their doors for good.

Young has urged the federal government to “save the industry, save the artists and keep live music alive”.

In a direct appeal to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, a renowned music fan, Young added, "Come on Albo, I know you love live music. Put your money where your mouth is and help save us. We need your help, mate." You can watch Young and Bassingthwaighte’s appearances on A Current Affair here.

Highlighting the importance and influence Cherry Bar has on Melbourne’s nightlife, Red Hot Chili Peppers Chad Smith went over to the city venue and played an impromptu gig for just 17 people earlier this year.

Smith reportedly performed two AC/DC songs, If You Want Blood and Up to My Neck In You. Vocalist AC Dan and guitarist Josh May joined him.

"Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith is a legend," Young wrote on Facebook. Young also stated that Smith was rewarded with a Cherry Bar drink card following his performance.