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Free earplugs to be mandatory at Minneapolis music venues

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In what appears to the first ordinance of its kind in the country, Minneapolis bars and clubs where live music is played will be required to offer free earplugs to patrons. MPR News reports that the measure, which was approved Friday by the Minneapolis City Council, goes on the books on April 19 and will apply to 185 venues in the city that feature live performances.

A coalition of private funders will make the earplugs available.

At a hearing on the measure earlier this month, the Minnesota Daily reported that some businesses that offer live music worry that the requirement might negatively affect their clubs. Erik Funk, co-owner of the Triple Rock Social Club, said his club already provides earplugs for less than $1. First Avenue also sells earplugs, and director of operations Carol Miller said it would suffer a $4,000 annual loss if the ordinance was implemented.

University speech, language and hearing sciences professor Robert Schlauch said regular concertgoers risk permanent nerve damage.

“Providing earplugs at these venues, I think, is an important consideration,” he said.

How do earplugs impact the experience for music-lovers? On the Listentech.comwebsite, a tour manager named Forrest Reda explained why he routinely uses earplugs. "I wear high fidelity earplugs because I love music, and I want to enjoy listening to it for the rest of my life," he wrote. "The music industry is filled with artists and crew members who have blown out their ears by being around loud music too long."

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