Glasgow urged to do more to promote music tourism in the city

Scotland's largest city should follow the examples of Liverpool and Nashville in marketing itself as an international destination for popular music, a major report has recommended.

Franz Ferdinand are just one of the pop bands from Glasgow who have gone on to achieve international success. Picture: Robert Perry/TSPL

Glasgow is already known for its wealth of venues, with live music generating £160 million a year for the local economy. But only two per cent of the 1.4 million fans attending concerts in the city travel from outside Scotland and book hotel accommodation.

Tourism bosses and music industry experts now want to encourage more visitors from south of the Border and overseas to explore the city as well as taking in a show.

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A panel of representatives from the Scottish Music Industry Association, Scottish Enterprise and SSE Hydro were this week presented with 22 recommendations to help Glasgow market itself in a similar way to established musical meccas like New Orleans.

While the city lacks a homegrown artist with comparable name recognition to The Beatles, it is known as the birthplace of the likes of Lulu, Donovan, Marmalade, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Simple Minds and Travis. A plethora of internationally-renowned modern performers are also known for their links to Glasgow: Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian and Chvrches are just three of the groups who have found success on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Students from Glasgow Caledonian University were tasked with generating ideas to capitalise on the city’s rich musical heritage and promote its diverse music scene.

The action plan follows a report, commissioned by Scottish Enterprise and Glasgow Life, which found there was scope to greatly increase international visitor numbers, prolong visits and increase the average spend of music fans.

Ideas include a marketing drive to promote the stories behind famous venues, such as King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, where Oasis were discovered, the Barrowland Ballroom, and the Britannia Panopticon Music Hall, home of Stan Laurel’s first stage performance.

Plans to create dedicated music districts across the city, launch interactive digital maps, promote live music at Glasgow Airport, introduce techno tours, and establish a Glasgow Music Subway Trail will also be put forward at a showcase at the Radisson Red hotel.

Dougal Perman, chair of the Scottish Music Industry Association, said: “Glasgow is a world-class, world-renowned city of music. Now we just need to tell the world.

“Music tourism makes a significant contribution to the economy but most of the money spent on music events in the city comes from locals. Glasgow’s high reputation at home and abroad is undervalued and under-exploited.

“There is great potential but more work needs to be done to learn from the experience of others and to design practical affordable and cost-effective interventions which would command the support of the industry.”

A recent report by creative consultants Inner Ear found Glasgow is home to 43 live music venues and 35 music bars. Music is one of six core themes, along with heritage, contemporary art, events, sport and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, of the Glasgow Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023.

Around 50 GCU students have been working on the proposals, the best of which will be taken forward by consultants for Scottish Enterprise.

Claire Bereziat, lecturer in International Tourism Management at Glasgow Caledonian University, said: “Glasgow has a phenomenal music product but it is undersold.

“Everybody wants to play Glasgow and the crowds are famous throughout the world but we need to promote the stories behind our venues, and the thriving scene, to capitalise on that reputation.”