Music industry of Sheffield

Brendan Moffett

One interesting example of creative industry that has emerged in Sheffield over the last 20 years is the music industry. It is an interesting example because many people who were sort thought leaders in this area where we, young people, confronted with no opportunity after the decline of the steel industry and the coal industry. There were lots of young 16 to 18 year old just walking in the streets, thinking what can we do, you know what is our future etc. 

But also interested in Sheffield industrial heritage, a lot of these people are grown up with the soundtrack of crashing steel nails and sort of percussive noises in the evening when they went to bed. And this almost formed the new genre of music in the UK for the electronic dance music, rhythmic music and spawned a number of artists from Cabaret Voltaire to the Human League, to current examples involved in current dancing. 

But I think what the city probably did was giving the opportunity by giving them studio space. The city built a recording studio called Red Tape Studios, which was very innovative at that time. It is back in the early 1980s and basically allow people to use it without paying. So we just took all the barriers away in terms of creativity and production. 

The legacy of that is it still with us today. Many of Sheffield's biggest cultural icons take for example people like Jarvis Cocker, who is an UK icon and was frontman of Pulp, came up through sort of grassroots scene in Sheffield. They are the kind of legacy today of those activities in the 1980s. 
One of things we always struggle with, is to trade-off the music heritage in terms of visitor economy. What we have done in recent times is that we created a music festival. We created our own music festival, which brings people to the city over three days period. But is also a showcase for our next generation of talent. So we bring an "extra" from the outside who are well-known, but we supplement them with local artists. So we give local artists the opportunity to play in front of large crowds, which is a way of giving them an opportunity to develop their careers and become well known on national and international stage. 

And that's really beginning to WordPress now and each year we attract nearly 200 000 people by this music festival and it also helps attract talent into the city. So the universities are very keen on this festival, because it brings a lot of young people into Sheffield, who see the city and consider that they might want to come here, study and live in the city as well.

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Brendan Moffett

Brendan Moffett

Director of Strategic Marketing at Creative Sheffield in Sheffield, United Kingdom

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