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Hitting the right notes in the Midlands

Our analysis of the strengths & challenges of music in the Midlands is published

Mr Wilson’s Second Liners at Appetite’s Big Feast 2015 © Andrew Billington

Music from the Midlands has influenced, inspired and entertained audiences across the world.

On behalf Arts Council England, we were commissioned to explore challenges facing music in the Midlands in relation to talent development, music ecology and touring, with a focus on four genres (contemporary, folk, jazz, world).

We found:

  • Music makes a direct economic contribution of over 6,600 jobs and £230m in Gross Value Added (GVA) annually to the Midlands
  • Sector responses indicated that there might be some challenges around available rehearsal space, performance venues, as well as music managers and booking agents in the region
  • The stock of music venues is declining more rapidly in the Midlands than elsewhere in the UK
  • Strengthened music networks can help by sharing expertise and advocacy
  • While, for example, the Coventry Music Network and the West Midlands Jazz Network are examples of developing place- and genre-based networks, such formal networks seem less well-established in the Midlands than elsewhere.

Data recently released by the Mayor of London indicates that the number of grassroots music venues in the capital has increased. This suggests that targeted support can grow musical impact. While music already has considerable impact upon the Midlands, there is potential for this to grow, not least via stronger music networks.

Full analysis and our recommendations found in our report here.

As part of this research, we formed an advisory group and ran a survey of musicians and music organisations, receiving a total of 484 respondents. We also conducted two focus groups with a cross section of music organisations in the East and West Midlands, and undertook a data / literature analysis to explore these challenges. We have also built a directory of musicians and music organisations in the Midlands to help facilitate networking. This directory will remain open till 2 August and can be completed here.

For more on BOP’s Research and Evaluation work, see here.

- Jonathan Todd, Chief Economist