It’s no secret that the UK has a thriving music scene - in fact, to recite examples of successful musicians that have come out of the United Kingdom is an exercise in futility; any list would just end up leaving out one much loved artist or another. But a recent study shows that these top acts aren’t just heading overseas to find fame and fans… a record number of people are flocking to the UK itself for the music scene.
The study, undertaken by Oxford Economics on behalf UK Music, reported that a staggering £3.1 billion was generated by the music tourism industry in 2014, with overseas tourists travelling to UK music events increasing by 39% from 2011 to 2014, bringing the annual total to 9.5 million. Naturally this has had a dramatic economic effect, with each overseas music tourist spending £751 on average per trip.
Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said, “It’s fantastic news that our music industry drew in 9.5 million tourists last year but it’s no surprise. British music is legendary around the globe and continues to go from strength to strength, with UK artists now accounting for 1 in 7 albums sold worldwide.”
For those who fancy joining the throng of music lovers making a pilgrimage to Britain
, there’s a few cities that you just can’t miss. In fact, why not make a road trip of it
and visit 3 of the greatest? Here’s one way experience a few of the finest musical cities in the UK:
This is as good a place to start as any. Named the UK’s most musical city in 2010, Bristol
gave birth to the trip hop giants Massive Attack and Portishead; any music buff visiting the city will instantly realise how inevitable it was for acts like these to emerge from Bristol. The nightclub scene is incomparable. Seedy looking venues transform into revelatory dance clubs at night, offering far more than your typical dubstep fare. A few must-experience spots include: the veteran Lakota with its schedule of house, hardcore and techno; Cosies, a uniquely Bristolian place which shifts from wine bar to reggae floor as the sun goes down; and The Thekla, which started as an ocean going vessel, turned into a cabaret theatre and is now an award winning music venue and club.
Time to head up the M5 to Birmingham
. This is a city with a rich musical history stretching back to the 1950’s. From the earliest days of rock and roll to the indie and post-punk revival of the noughties, the city has shifted with the times but always remained on the bleeding edge of the music scene. Where to go to experience the best of Birmingham? Hare and Hounds is a great start (and hosted UB40’s first gig) offering something for almost every musical taste, from rocker to raver. The Sunflower Lounge is another classic venue - don’t be put off by the ramshackle appearance, the gigs at the Sunflower are some of the best in the city. Finally there’s Alfie Bird’s. Right in the heart of Digbeth, the suburb that has fostered the latest generation of Brummer music, this venue is the epitome of cool and the perfect spot to witness the next big thing before anyone else.
Northward bound once more. While most of Sheffield’s exports have been electronic and synthpop, it’s also home to a large indiepop community. Everyone knows The Arctic Monkeys and Joe Cocker, but this former industrial city has much, much more to offer. Corporation, or just Corp if you’re in the know, is one of the major rock and alternative clubs not just in Sheffield, but in the whole of England. O2 Academy offers two venues in one: a large auditorium that can hold over 2000 for the big touring acts, and a smaller space which often features up and coming artists. The Green Room is well known for the quality of its open mic nights; this is the place to go if you’re keen to get a real feel for Sheffield local talent.
With UK music tourism on the rise, the creative boom that these cities are experiencing looks set to increase exponentially - making this the perfect time for a tunes-fueled journey into the heart of England