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“Incredible” London is Europe’s live music capital

The UK capital is by far Europe's biggest city for live music, IQ can reveal—with what mayor Sadiq Khan calls its "world-class" venues hosting 19,940 shows in 2016 alone

By Jon Chapple on 13 Sep 2017


image © LeBlanc Design

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hailed the UK capital’s “world-class arenas” and “amazing grassroots music venues”, as it emerges London hosted the most concerts of any city in Europe last year – a feat it is on course to repeat in 2017.

There were 19,940 total live music events in London in 2016 – more than San Francisco (13,672), Paris (11,248) and Chicago (11,224), as well as the self-described ‘live music capital of the world’, Austin, Texas (6,781).

The city is also in third place globally, behind first-placed New York, with 28,529 shows in 2016, and runner-up Los Angeles, which just pipped London to second place with 20,843 events, according to data shared with IQ by Songkick.

The concert-discovery platform, recently acquired by Warner Music Group, analysed concert data from 12 major music cities for the study, which additionally found London had the second most venues (1,780), behind only Los Angeles (2,002), and that Austin – the home of South by Southwest – had, unsurprisingly, the most shows in one day (278, compared to London’s 125, LA’s 120, New York’s 144 and Chicago’s 73).

The figures from Songkick come after a strong showing for London in UK Music’s latest Wish You Were Here report, which found money generated by live music in the the capital exceeded the £1 billion mark for the first time, increasing 6% on 2015, bolstered by an increase in music tourism and new additions to the festival calendar.

“It’s fantastic to see London ranking so highly for live music and for grassroots music venues”

“London’s buzzing live music scene is world renowned, having produced artists from Adele to Ed Sheeran, the Clash and the Rolling Stones,” Khan tells IQ. “I’ve made growing London’s culture and creative industries a core priority, and music is a huge part of this. That’s why I appointed night czar Amy Lamé to act as a champion for venues and the night-time economy to ensure we strengthen our reputation as a powerhouse for music.

“In London, we have some of the greatest places to catch a live gig – from world-class arenas to amazing grassroots music venues – and it is little wonder that music lovers come from across the globe to enjoy our city’s incredible nightlife.”

In full, the 2016 top 12 are: New York (28,529), Los Angeles (20,843), London (19,940), the San Francisco Bay area (13,672), Paris (11,248), Chicago (11,224), Philadelphia (8,691), Las Vegas (8,023), Denver (7,343), Washington, DC (7,219), Seattle (6,893) and Austin (6,781).

Looking ahead to 2017, London retains its third place globally, with 11,747 total events as of 8 August – again, behind New York and Los Angeles. Paris, however, slips down to sixth, with Chicago taking its place.

“In London, we have some of the greatest places to catch a live gig”

Like Khan, Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd welcomes the findings – although he cautions that the work needed to reverse London’s well-publicised decline in venue numbers is far from over.

“It’s obviously fantastic to see London still ranking so highly for live music and for grassroots music venues,” he comments. “There’s a really feeling that City Hall understands these venues and wants to help support them, and the work already being done is showing some results – 2016–17 was the first year in ten years that London didn’t suffer a net loss of grassroots music venues.

“But there’s a lot more to be done. Cities across the world are recognising grassroots music venues as a good investment opportunity, creating pipelines of new talent and local jobs. Sydney just announced investment into grassroots music venues infrastructure, following Berlin, Amsterdam and other leading world cities in recognising that fantastic new artists deserve incredible places to play and audiences deserve to be able to see and hear artists in the very best quality settings. Music Venue Trust believes London can do the same; there’s a Good Growth fund, so let’s use it to really support grassroots culture.”

With thanks to Songkick and James Drury.


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