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Blueprint to create UK’s first Music City revealed
A blueprint to unlock Cardiff’s music potential and create the UK’s first Music City has been revealed. 

Sound Diplomacy – a world-leading consultancy which helps cities deliver economic growth, investment and cultural development through music - has completed its much-anticipated report into the capital’s music sector.

The Sound Diplomacy Music City report, “Informing a Music Strategy for Cardiff:  Music Ecosystem Study and Strategic Recommendations”, which took a year to compile and saw the company speak with hundreds of people working across Cardiff’s music industry, has delivered a series of recommendations to Cardiff Council who commissioned the report.

The authority will now consider Sound Diplomacy’s recommendations before bringing a report to Cabinet in the summer which will lay out how Cardiff will become a leader in the global Music Cities Movement.

Leader of Cardiff Council, Cllr Huw Thomas, said: “Music does a number of things for towns and cities.  It creates jobs in itself.  It creates a reason to be somewhere.  It attracts visitors.  It provides us with a sense of identity.  And we also cannot ignore that music for music’s sake is a good thing. 

“We want to become the first city in the UK to incorporate music into its city structure, from planning and licensing to social wellbeing and tourism. Through this we will create vibrant, exciting communities, build our international profile and increase the social and economic value of music in our city.

“This is a UK first and we believe the results of such an approach will be transformational for Cardiff. It will recognise and support the role that music can play in all aspects of our lives and it fits into our wider ambitions to expand our city’s creative and digital sectors.

“Cardiff is a city of artists, musicians, singers, producers, sound engineers, and of course, music lovers.  All part of a wider creative community that is second to none in Britain, and who help make Cardiff one the most creative and inventive cities in the world.  We’ve got talent, we’ve got venues, we’ve got spirit and we’ve got a cultural distinctiveness that sets us apart. Our Music Strategy will look at how we can maximise the economic and social value of music through collaboration.”

Part of that collaboration will involve setting up a Music Board which will enable music industry professionals and the wider music community to represent and champion the Welsh capital as a music-friendly city.

Cllr Thomas added: “Sound Diplomacy recommend setting up a Music Board which will drive the Music City agenda forward. Our job at the council will be to act as the roadie in this situation – to make sure everything is in place for the artists to deliver their best. We want to ensure the creative forces in the city are given the best opportunity to express themselves and to help deliver on this vision of making Cardiff a world leader in the music cities movement.”

The report reveals a host of interesting statistics and figures about the current state of the music sector in the city. Among those are:

  • The music sector is worth £104m a year to Cardiff’s economy
  • There are 1,440 jobs directly generated by the music sector in Cardiff
  • 840 of those jobs are full time and 600 are part time
  • The average annual income of artists and creative agents is £18k
  • Technical and management music sector workers earn on average £27,500 a year
  • The total number of jobs generated and supported by the music sector in Cardiff is 2,494
  • Cardiff has a similar number of people working in the music sector as Bristol and Liverpool, but the city creates 4.3 jobs per 1,000 residents versus 2.7 in Bristol and Liverpool.

The Sound Diplomacy report also notes there is no government-affiliated music office and that the music industry has no representatives on strategic issues, despite much support and goodwill.

It highlights that much of the core funding available is focussed on classical music, that there is a lack of clarity around licensing and that there are gaps in venue space, a lack of diversity of events and no specific planning policies relating to music.

Sound Diplomacy recommend improved governance and leadership, more thought given to spaces and places, education, artist development, professional development, audience engagement and music marketing.

Cllr Thomas said: “There are many challenges for grassroots music venues to survive and thrive, often challenges out of the control of local government.  But these challenges will not prevent us in Cardiff from doing all we can to support the sector and help create the right conditions for music in our city to flourish.  It requires us to work with the sector, to identify how we can collectively support our ambitions for live music.

“We want to bring forward a strategy which will see Cardiff establish itself as a leader in urban development that uses music as a tool for growth rather than a by-product of it.”

Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Peter Bradbury added:  “Cardiff has music in its soul and the recommendations brought to the table by Sound Diplomacy provide us with a strong basis on which to develop a Music Strategy that will help grow the city’s already successful music sector. 

“Cardiff is already one of the UK’s creative powerhouses – our creative sector employs around 15,000 people and generates over £1 billion of value for the local economy – but the UK’s live music sector, and the number of jobs it supports, is growing.  Recent figures show that in Wales, music tourism sustains 47,445 jobs and a £115 million annual spend on concerts and festivals – that represents a real opportunity for our music sector and for the wider city economy.

“From local pubs and community venues to concert halls and major stadiums, the city’s music ecosystem is already thriving, but the challenge clearly laid out in the Sound Diplomacy report, is for us to ensure that our wider approach to city development is aligned with the needs of the music industry, so that music can support the city’s economy, and the city can support its musicians and music professionals.

“There is clearly much work to be done and I will be discussing the full report with my Cabinet colleagues in the near future and progressing with the potential establishment of a Music Board to help make Cardiff a genuine music city.”  

The full Sound Diplomacy report will be published on Friday ahead of a Cardiff Council Cabinet meeting on Thursday 18th April.


Cardiff Music Statistics

36 music venues

28 nightclubs

11 record and equipment stores

29 recording studios

7 record labels

7 radio stations

6 rehearsal spaces

15 booking agents/promoters

26 paying festivals

13 co-working spaces

45 registered music teachers

2,494 – total number of jobs generated and supported by city’s music sector