Home to some of the most influential and culturally relevant British musicians from Massive Attack to Robert Wyatt and Tricky – to name just a few -, Bristol is renowned for its vibrant and alternative music scene.

The Bristol Live Music Census Report, a recent joint research from Buckinghamshire New University and UK Music, highlighted a few ways in which the city’s music scene is benefiting more than just fans.

Live music’s economic impact

In terms of economic impact, Bristol has much to celebrate. Live music generated £123million for the city’s economy in 2015, which is roughly £45 million in terms of gross value added (GVA) and helped create over 900 full time equivalent jobs.

Taking a closer look at music-lover’s total expenditures, box office spending alone is estimated at £10.7 million, which is about 17% of the spending that can occur at or in association with live music events. Drinks and travel & accommodation costs are the first and second source, respectively, of revenue at music venues.

These figures show that the music scene is a real generator of spending, a sort of engine of cultural and economic growth that is benefiting the city in many ways. Moreover, with almost a quarter of audiences (24%) coming from outside the Bristol area and travelling over ten miles to reach the music events, the city is attracting new audiences from across the country, who will be contributing to the city’s art and economy, whilst benefiting from all Bristol has to offer.

xGraph I

Music for everyone

With 94 dedicated music venues, fans have plenty of choice. In a city where the median age is thirty-three – well under the national average of 39 (Census 2011) –  it is not surprising that the biggest age group attending music events are 21-29 years old (33%) and 30-40 years old (25%). Interestingly, almost a third of the audience (30%) is over 40.

When asked how many gigs people attend, almost a quarter (23%) enjoy live music three to five times a month, with around one-fifth (17%) attending more than six live concerts.

So, how are music fans in the city finding out about these concerts and gigs? In the Facebook/Twitter era, it is surprising to discover that almost a half of gig-goers (45%) hear about event through the ‘word of mouth’, with just 19% using social media.

Yet, not all that glitters is gold. Although the music scene appears to be booming, with half of the city’s venues (50%) say that they have been affected by development and planning issues, Bristol’s music scene might find itself under an unexpected and unintended threat. This is a threat that the city’s varied and vibrant music scene does not deserve and, seeing the important contribution in terms of economic and cultural richness, must be promptly addressed.


Sources: Bristol Live Music Census Report 2016, Bucks New University & UK Music


Simone Grassi, Bristol Is Open