Masters of Music
The list of music events across the whole world is endless. We all happily fork out hundreds for just one paper ticket, and spend hours in online queues to make the exclusive list of festival-goers (Glastonbury, anyone?)
It’s well-known that Liverpool champions the beat. Our buildings are practically built on melodies and you could say we’re like the pied-piper of music tourists. Heck, we’re even hosting the first global music tourism conference, the Music Tourism Convention on February 17th to explore how music impacts, benefits and improves tourism (you’re invited, btw).
But there can be more than one music tourism champion out there, and we’ve done some digging to find them. Here’s a list of 5 cities (and one region) that absolutely nail music tourism:
📷:Flume at lollapalooza
In UK Music’s last Music Tourism report in 2015, the North West of England received £383 million in total direct and indirect spend – more than any other region outside of London – thanks to 1.2 million music tourists flocking here for the tunes. We’re pretty sure Liverpool must have a massive part to play in bringing in those punters.
Our crown of UNESCO City of Music sure packs a punch when it comes to music tourism in Liverpool alone, with a study by Music Heritage UK stating that music tourism in the UK could be worth up to £4 billion if the rest of the UK matched Liverpool’s performance. To put that into perspective, the current worth is over £3.1 billion…
In case you didn’t know: we’re the home of The Beatles. They’ve managed to put Liverpool back into the international music spotlight since the 1960s, bringing in £82 million per year to our economy and generating 2,335 jobs. That’s all down to the estimated 1.15 million people that come over to see the likes of The Beatles Story, the Cavern Club and the lad’s childhood homes.
But don’t get us wrong – it’s more than just The Beatles. We’ve got Liverpool Music Week, LIMF, Sound City, Liverpool Psych Fest, Positive Vibrations and so much more – all attracting tens of thousands of music lovers to the city, worth millions to our economy. Music is at the very heart of our contemporary culture, education and economy – and we love it that way.
Venue: The Cavern Club
The Viking Nation that we all know and love for its hot springs, Northern Lights and Bjork, may seem an unassuming city for big bucks, but it absolutely rocks music tourism’s world. Although it faces logistical challenges due to its somewhat geographical isolation, it’s actually the northernmost capital that rocks a robust music scene in the scathing face of (icy) adversity.
Though the ice city has a population of less than 300,000 – and is noted for its minimal urban development – Reykjavik nails music tourism by keeping a close eye on the international market. The fact that it’s got one of the world’s highest internet penetration rates of 97% (that’s the percentage of citizens that use the internet), their ability to monitor their in-sourcing of music talent and business is nothing short of genius.
Considering urban space is held to a minimum, there’s more than enough room to hold the best and most unique music festivals, events & attractions. Take Iceland Airwaves for example, a festival with numerous gigs around the city (even one by the Blue Lagoon), where concert goers spend almost £10 million during their annual stay.
Festival: Iceland Airwaves
Attraction: The Icelandic Museum of Rock & Roll
A mother to many modern genres and leaders in the export of musical superstars, the region has played a part in the global music industry since the 1920s, with the recording and export of genres like calypso, merengue, son, reggae, zouk, salsa, soca, and dancehall. Thanks to the region’s unrivalled reputation as genre-founders and serious hit-makers, international superstars jump at the chance to play a set in the Caribbean’s festival season, with their appearances helping to market Caribbean destinations, stimulating local economies and helping many business’ bottom lines. Just take a look at St Lucia Jazz Festival and St. Kitts Music Festival to prove it.
Jamaica is also on a mission to use the heavenly sound of reggae to appeal to tourists – and its paying off. Not only does February mark the peak of winter tourist season in Jamaica, it’s now coined ‘Reggae Month’, thanks to the birthdays of Jamaica’s most recognisable musicians, Bob Marley and Dennis Brown. Promotional activities have been increased in traditional tourist markets to spread awareness of Reggae Month, including a full slate of activities to celebrate the contribution of music to the country’s economy and vibrant culture. Two reggae events have managed to attract major international attention too. 2014 saw the 22nd edition of Montego Bay’s Reggae Sumfest dubbed ‘The Greatest Reggae Show on Earth’ which attracts 30,000 reggae-seekers during eight colourful nights of live performances which bill the latest reggae acts with other big R&B and hip-hop stars.
Music and culture walk hand-in-hand through the Caribbean, and music tourists flock towards the raw sound and feel of this Carnival world. A massive part of the tourist pull seems to be the inclusiveness of the Caribbean’s music calendar: there’s no room for exclusive tickets of £200+ a pop here. It’s all about community, history and travelling over to keep time to the best beats around.
Festival: Trinidad and Tobago Carnival
Venue: Bourbon Beach, Jamaica
According to the study ‘The Mastering of a Music City’ by the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) and Midem, Melbourne brings in the big bucks. It found that live music alone generates more than £601 million in spending at small venues, concerts and festivals, supports 116,000 annual full-time equivalent jobs, and produces significant spin-off benefits to restaurants, hotels, transportation companies and other providers, thanks to about 5.4 million music-lovers.
You can catch a gig just about anywhere in Melbourne – from laneways to rooftops, bowls clubs, concert halls and pubs – as well as hordes of amazing festivals set against unbelievable backdrops (check out A Day on the Green and you’ll get the jist). Through their title of ‘Melbourne Music City’, they’ve developed immersive metropolitan maps to steer visitors through a music festival timeline; a plotted history of key music events, plus information on gig guides, media, public transport and music-friendly accommodation throughout the city. Along with all that sunshine, it’s a music lovers paradise.
Festival: Strawberry Fields (and not just because of the name)
Attraction: AC/DC Lane
The clubbing capital of the world. An EDM and Techno-junkie paradise. You might not be on Berghain’s list but it’s certainly on yours. Yep, Berlin’s music scene is the soundtrack to the optimum tourist electronic experience.
Home to ten of the best 100 clubs worldwide, the city’s bountiful music culture is a far cry from the economic and creative precariousness that a pre-Berlin Wall time dealt the city just 28 years ago. Since the wall crashed down in November 1989, international connections have been forged, linking eastern and western Germans with music producers from Detroit, Chicago, London, Bristol, and all over Europe and the Caribbean. Meanwhile, informal cultural spaces have been created in the repurposed urban “gaps” left by the Cold War. Those abandoned buildings and bombed-out ruins are now marketed as, you guessed it, major music attractions.
Thousands of people – ‘the EasyJet set’ –flag down inexpensive flights each weekend for ‘techno tourism’. Take Berlin’s Love Parade for example: it took techno and EDM from the depths of a hedonistic West Berliner subculture in 1989, and thrust it into the international music mainstream (with a million people dancing in the city’s Tiergarten for it in 1997). Berlin’s music tourism is different from the regular – it’s about the individual’s ongoing quest to find something unique and special.
But it’s not all about the techno club scene. Since the 18th century, Berliners have perfected the human voice and fashioned a thriving opera culture – still with three state-subsidised opera houses that finely-tuned tourists can’t get enough of. Plus, with music tours galore – walking ones, studio ones, bus ones, even Bowie/U2 ones – Berlin’s got a constant stream of Musik Touristen which are going absolutely nowhere.
Know a city or region that you reckon smashes music tourism that isn’t listed here? Give us a shout! We’d love to hear your take on it.