London is a city that excels in many ways. As a start, it is a major financial, fashion, education and travel hub. The Big Smoke is also known for its luxury real estate property market, rich gastronomic environment, countless parks and many more. It is not surprising that so many people choose to live in the English capital. Statistics show that every year an average of 200,000 people from foreign countries relocate to London. One of the things people need to know before they move to the English capital, apart from how to find helpful moving services in London, is that music plays an important part in the life of every true Londoner. In fact, London is often called the ‘music capital of the world.’
London music scene – then and now
Interestingly, however, the capital of the United Kingdom did not always shine with its music talents. What is more, during the 18th and 19th centuries, many Western European countries made fun of London’s inability to produce a great number of world-recognized composers. In Germany, the home country of Beethoven, Bach, Brahms and Hendel, many people used to refer to England and its capital as ‘Das Land ohne Musik’ or ‘the land without music.’
Today, however, things are much different and now London easily ranks among famous music cities like Austin, Texas, Berlin, New York and Nashville. The local music scene is diverse and often quite unique. The fact that some of the biggest recording companies are set in the English capital also speaks volumes about the city’s music inclinations. In addition, London is a true record-breaker when it comes to the fourth art:
- The UK capital is home of nearly 250 music venues and ten big concert halls
- It has a so-called “Night Mayor” whose main task is to maintain the night music scene alive*
- Nearly 20 of the world’s most famous album covers were shot in the Big Smoke, among which are The Beatles’ ‘Abbey Road’ and David Bowie’s ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’
- London is home of the world’s busiest music venue – the O2 arena
*The position of Night Mayor was first appointed a few years after it was discovered that London’s night music venues have started to witness a decline.
No other music city is like London
Similar to many other big cities in the world, London has an impressive number of music venues, night clubs and concert halls on its territory. However, unlike most other metropolitan areas, the English capital is home of some of the biggest acts in the history of music. From Iron Maiden, The Who and Led Zeppelin to Queen, Blur and, of course, The Beatles – the list of singers and bands that kicked off their legendary careers in London is incredibly lengthy. Even today, London stands its ground on the international music scene. Over the past one decade, nearly half of the ten top-selling music artists came from London and included Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, Adele and Pink Floyd.
One of the reasons behind this massive success started during the 1960s, when UK culture suddenly begdan to gain rise in the United States. That was known as the British Invasion and it was stirred by the American youth population who was attracted by the rebellious songs of the Rolling Stones, the Animals and the Beatles. The trend is alive even today mainly due to English’s status of an international language.
London’s many music genres
The capital of the United Kingdom is a true innovator when it comes to music genres. It is considered the birthplace of trip hop, punk rock, Britpop and various electronic music subgenres. That, however, does not mean that Londoners do not have an appreciation for the more traditional types of music. London simply offers the perfect environment for music modernization and trend-setting. It is a true melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, in which different influences appear, merge and evolve in unexpected ways, giving music a new shape and direction. For instance, the drum and base music genre is heavily influenced by reggae and dub sounds which are typical for Jamaica. Ska, another London-born genre, is a mixture between Jamaican and Caribbean music, as well as American jazz songs. Some grime tracks also incorporate Caribbean and African melodies.
Future that does not look bright
Unfortunately, London may soon lose its global music capital title. Musicians in the city are now facing various challenges which did not exist ten or even five years ago. The biggest of them is the major decrease in the number of live music venues in the English capital. For less than a decade, clubs and bars that organize special music events and concerts has fallen from 348 to under 250. Newly-rising stars seems to take the hardest and heaviest blow as the music venues that were dedicated to specifically promoting them have witnessed a decline of about 60%, dropping from almost 140 to barely 88.
London’s bands and artists also enjoy less freedom and have fewer opportunities to work on their music than ever before. In the past, musicians in the capital city could easily make ends meet through squatting or by making an additional something by busking on the streets of the Big Smoke. All of that changed, however, when the UK government made squatting illegal in 2012 and when some of London’s central districts started to prohibit street music performances. Even recording companies seem to have turned their backs on London music talents by monopolizing studios around the city. Some of the newest practices in the local music industry often make new artists to do their promoting on their own. Often performers are not paid when they are invited to participate even in major music festivals and events around the city.
Given that more than 6 million people visit London every year just so that they can go to a music concert or a small gig, it is more than clear that the city needs to fight harder to remain the world’s music capital.