French Citizens Protest Restrictions on Music Volume in Clubs and Concerts
French citizens are fighting back against new noise restrictions that could stifle performers and hurt the country’s music culture.
Paris had a small club scene ten years ago, earning the nickname of “the city of sleep.” Since then, the city has tried to rid itself of this image. In recent years, the number of venues in the city has greatly increased.
The new restriction lowers maximum sustained sound level from 105 to 102 decibels and also limits the volume of deep basslines. It affects venues and festivals with a capacity of 300 people or more.
The noise restrictions came in the form of a public health decree officially passed by Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, in August. These limitations were put in place to lower the risk of hearing loss connected to listening to loud music. French hearing associations estimate that hearing problems are found in 12 to 13 percent of the population, which means 6,000,000 to 8,000,000 people live with the health issue.
DJs Laurent Garnier and Jean-Michele, along with a group of other music professionals, published an appeal on Friday. They argue that lowering sounds in music places will deny listeners the opportunity to experience beautiful life moments that are common at these events. They also believe lowering sound is a disservice to the artist, because it attacks his artistic freedom. The appeal also mentions the negative effects of the restriction on the economy, since people might not want to pay for entry into a venue if the music is not loud enough.
According to the Guardian, a spokeswoman for the CSCAD union for music-venue holders festival organizers said, “This is a threat to our whole cultural aesthetic. It threatens works played and performed by artists at festivals and concerts everywhere, all types of music. You can’t ask a drummer to drum ‘softly’ even if they are playing with an orchestra.”
As part of the decree, clubs and venues will have to set aside quiet areas if they do not want to designate times where the decibel level stays at 80 or lower. They will also be required to provide free earplugs for hearing protection, as well as post signs warning about the risk of hearing loss from exposure to loud music.