GCU researchers launch Alcohol Research UK project

15 October 2014

GCU researchers look at entertainers' role in alcohol marketing

GCU researchers look at entertainers' role in alcohol marketing

Different types of music and entertainment in bars and clubs can have a significant effect on the behaviour and drinking levels of clientele, and a new pilot study by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) researchers seeks to uncover why this might be so.

Funded by Alcohol Research UK, researchers Dr Alasdair Forsyth, Senior Research Fellow in GCU’s Institute for Society and Social Justice Research, and Jemma Lennox, are talking to a range of entertainers – including DJs, bands, stand-up comics and quiz hosts – to establish their role in on-trade marketing of alcohol.

Early results suggest that many entertainers are not consciously aware of how much they are involved in alcohol marketing, yet they are often encouraged to ‘shout out’ drinks promotions and can actively create a distinct atmosphere or type of regular clientele through the genre of music they play. Many entertainers are paid in relation to bar sales, and therefore have a vested interest in encouraging drinking alcohol.

The research will further analyse how aware entertainers are of the impact of music levels on patrons consumption or behaviour, whether they partake in alcohol themselves either before, during or after performing, and how they deal with hecklers and difficult requests.

Dr Forsyth says: “There are a lot more subtleties involved in working as a DJ, for example, than they get credit for. Music can calm a crowd, acting as a sort of prevention of trouble, and the club might therefore be less reliant on bouncers. Music can also be used to clear a room, or to encourage more expensive drink purchases.”

Dr Forsyth’s published research has explored how music and music genre can govern the nightlife experience, specifically how a nightclub’s music policy can impact on clientele, health behaviours, bar sales and levels of disorder.

Previous research has found that music policy influenced nightclubs' clientele and their behaviours, for example in relation to differences in levels of alcohol or illegal drug use, sexual activity and violence between venues. Further, within individual venues, music policy was also observed operating as a crowd control tool, with for example such entertainment being used in alcohol marketing, in 'soft policing' and in the temporal management of patrons’ movements, such as signalling when it is time to chat, time to get up and dance, time for a rest (go to the bar) and ultimately that time when the party’s over.