Report reveals how much music is worth to Sheffield - and the figures are enormous

Sheffield's concert scene could be given a massive boost with a more effective transport network and better parking, according to a report which also calls for improved music lessons in schools and greater protection for grassroots gig venues.

Friday, 20th December 2019, 3:30 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd December 2019, 9:33 am

More than 800,000 people go to live music events every year in Sheffield and its surrounding towns, over 300,000 of whom are from elsewhere in the country, says the study which calculates such 'music tourists' as being worth £92 million to the region every year.

The Sheffield City Region Music Report was produced by UK Music, the industry body led by former Barnsley East MP Michael Dugher who in 2018 joined forces with metro mayor Dan Jarvis to set up the SCR Music Board, the first body of its kind outside London, which aims to promote the area as a gig destination and develop talent to follow the likes of homegrown acts Arctic Monkeys, Pulp and Bring Me The Horizon.

Just over £38 million was spent on tickets for live music in the city region in 2017, the most recent year for which figures are available. In the same 12 months, more than a third of those who attended gigs and festivals were from outside Sheffield.

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The Leadmill in Sheffield. Picture: Kevin Wells

The report praises success stories such as the Tramlines, Sensoria and Barnsley Live festivals, as well as not-for-profit artist development organisation Higher Rhythm, which is based in Doncaster.

But the study also highlights a 'decline of music in education' which Mr Dugher says is 'both a regional and national area of concern'.

"If young people do not get the chance to play music in school or local rehearsal spaces and venues, then the talent pipeline upon which our industry relies will be in serious danger," said Mr Dugher, UK Music's chief executive.

The Sheffield City Region Combined Authority should co-ordinate the area's six 'music hubs' - groups that bring together schools, councils, charities and other organisations to make sure pupils have access to learning opportunities - and there should be increased efforts to increase the number of rehearsal rooms, the report says.

Properly integrating transport is another of the paper's main recommendations.

"The transport system in the city region needs more investment and co-ordination if it is to be fit for purpose in supporting the night-time economy," the report says. "Music cities can benefit from a comprehensive review of infrastructure so that music fans can travel easily. There are also issues for acts with finding appropriate parking spaces to unload heavy equipment outside venues. Man cities have now adopted a priority loading scheme where signs are erected outside venues stating that equipment can be unloaded."

Railway and bus stations could 'provide the perfect shop fronts for music' in the region, it goes on to add, saying: "A broad range of interventions could be scoped out from licensing background music to hosting performances, to pop-up music tourism kiosks at transport hubs."

Meanwhile the report says a strategy should be mapped out with businesses to 'attract investment into the local music industry', and it calls for the region's 'special ecology' of grassroots venues to be 'protected and nurtured'.

Council bosses are urged to offer relief on business rates and to fully implement the 'agent of change' principle, a provision in UK planning law that came into force in 2018. This makes housing developers building new homes near venues responsible for addressing noise issues.

Mr Jarvis said the recommendations would be taken forward.

"This report will help to establish where we are now, inform our conversations, and provide valuable evidence for planning the work we do next," he said.

"Our region is blessed with musical talent, with great venues large and small, and with a host of leading production and technology-based businesses. We're also home to fantastic events and festivals.

"But we know there is more we could do to promote these strengths nationally and internationally, creating a stronger culture of creativity and developing the talent we have here."

Mr Dugher said the report reinforced a shared aim for the music board to come up with a 'concrete plan of action' rather than merely being a 'talking shop'.

Major booking companies like Ticketmaster, See Tickets and Live Nation supplied box office figures.


800,000 – Amount of people who go to live music events in Sheffield City Region annually

311,000 – Number of ‘music tourists’ who visit every year

£92 million – Total direct and indirect spend generated by music tourism in city region in 12 months

£8.2 million – Sum spent on tickets for local festivals

86,840 – Attendance at festivals in Sheffield and surrounding area

£2.9 million – Money spent on tickets for gigs at small venues

177,100 – Annual attendance at small venues

£23.2 million – Box office spend for live music events at FlyDSA Arena

439,120 – Number of people who see an arena concert every year