Glasgow launches campaign to become the UK's number one music city

Glasgow has kick-started a major new campaign aiming to establish the city as the number one destination for music fans to visit in the UK.

The city’s marketing chiefs have joined forces with national tourism agency VisitScotland to help reboot the city’s venues and nightlife as Glasgow emerges from nearly two years of Covid restrictions.

As well as highlighting coming concerts and festivals, the new campaign – Glasgow: Music Nonstop – will showcase tours celebrating the city’s musical heritage, music-themed hotels to stay in, where to find the best record shops and live music pubs, and the best-kept secrets of the scene.

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A dedicated page on the official “People Make Glasgow” website now offers suggestions for visitors to fill their days and nights with music-related events and activities.

A promotional video featuring up-and-coming Glasgow indie rock band Voodoo’s track Young Punks was unveiled on Tuesday to launch the campaign, which will also deploy a mix of digital and social media advertising. The city has also joined forces with rail operator Avanti West Glasgow to help inspire a music-related short break.

The new marketing drive has been developed to help revive and support an industry that had grown to feature an average of around 130 gigs, shows and events per week in Glasgow before the pandemic struck in March 2020.

Live music events in the city were said to be worth an estimated £160 million a year pre-Covid, more than a third of the value of the industry across the whole of Scotland.

The campaign has been unveiled nearly four years after Glasgow was urged to do much more to promote itself as a music city around the world, amid suggestions it could twin with other music cities like Detroit, Berlin and Paris.

SWG3 has become one of Glasgow's best-known live music venues n recnt years. Picture: Ryan Johnston

Research for Glasgow Life, which leads efforts to promote the city globally, and Scottish Enterprise found the city had failed to capitalise on being named the first UNESCO City of Music in 2008, was under-estimating the value of the industry, had spare capacity in most of its venues and could generate millions more for the economy by encouraging people visiting the city for concerts to extend their stay.

Glasgow has the highest density of higher education institutions offering courses in music, and the largest population of music students in Scotland.

Five of the six biggest Scottish employers in the music industry are based in Glasgow and the city employs more than half of the country’s entire music workforce.

Jim Clarkson, regional director of VisitScotland, which has funded the new campaign to the tune of £90,000, said: “The money awarded to Glasgow Life for Glasgow: Music Nonstop will help to accelerate the sustainable recovery of the tourism sector in the Glasgow City Region in the medium to long term, helping to reach new audiences within the domestic market.”

A packed crowd at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow. Picture: Ryan Johnston

The new campaign has been unveiled weeks after it emerged Glasgow’s musical heritage was to be showcased on the city’s sightseeing buses.

Singer-songwriter Eddi Reader has become an official guide to the city’s musical hotspots after recording the narration for the open-top buses. The Scotsman’s music critic Fiona Shepherd has joined forces with tour company City Sightseeing Glasgow and the singer to delve into the city's musical history.

David McDonald, chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow enjoys a global reputation as a live music hotspot. Our venues punch well above their weight internationally – our OVO Hydro is regularly named in the world’s top five arenas – and the passion and enthusiasm of our audiences is unrivalled.

“We’re also home to some outstanding tours and visitor experiences, which delve deep into our city’s vast musical legacy. It’s these credentials that make Glasgow a must-play destination for the world’s biggest artists and promoters, and it’s a major reason why visitors choose to come here.”

TRNSMT music festival will be staged on Glasgow Green in July. Picture: Ryan Buchanan

Voodoors frontman Piero Marcuccilli said: “From my time playing and attending gigs, I can safely say there’s no better place for a gig than Glasgow.

“The crowds are always electric and the atmosphere tops everywhere else in the UK. I’m sure even all the top artists would agree.

"There’s something different about Glasgow crowds and it’s one of the main things that inspired me to get into music.”

The new campaign will promote flagship events like Scotland’s biggest music festival, TRNSMT, and Celtic Connections, iconic venues like the Barrowland Ballroom, the Hydro, King Tut’s and SWG3, and the city’s links with acts as varied as Lulu, Donovan, Marmalade, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Simple Minds, Travis, Mogwai, Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian and Chvrches.

Geoff Ellis, chief of Glasgow-based promoters DF Concerts, said: “Glasgow is a city world-renowned for its music scene, so it’s fantastic to see this investment from Glasgow Life to help support the recovery of the industry.

"We’re on track to have the busiest summer on record for live music in Scotland, so it’s vitally important now that Glasgow’s music offering is put in the spotlight, which this campaign aims to do.”

Donald Shaw, creative producer of Celtic Connections, said: “The city of Glasgow is internationally renowned for its passion and skill for musical innovation and an unrivalled live event experience, all made possible by incredible artists, promoters, technical crews and, of course, the best audiences in the world.

"Celtic Connections is proud to be part of Glasgow’s rich musical eco-system and to bring the city to life with performances, workshops, collaborations, sessions and more each winter, getting the year off to an inspiring start and lighting up the winter nights.”

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