For such a small city, how does Sheffield continue to hold its own in the music scene? It has bigger, brasher neighbours in the form of Leeds and Manchester, and truly, they should dominate the music scene. Instead, thanks to Sheffield's entrepreneurial, hedonistic spirit, the city has well and truly established itself as the music hub of the north.
So why is Sheffield such a successful music hub? Mainly, because it’s affordable. Bands need space to rehearse, promoters need venues to promote, and bigger cities like London need to ensure that they’re putting on bands that can pull in the profit because they have enormous overheads to cover.
Rental costs in Sheffield are relatively low compared to London, Manchester, and even Leeds, so securing a rehearsal room or playing an impromptu gig at a friendly, welcoming venue is a lot easier. There’s less pressure on bands to earn the venue a lot of money. Plus, they can afford to rehearse, which is always a bonus.
There’s a lot of support in Sheffield for the local music scene. People really get behind local bands. It’s as close to a big scale music collective as you can get in a city. Editor of Sheffield music magazine, Exposed, Joe Food thinks that the scene is “fairly tight knit. Most bands are on good terms and actively participate in promoting each other over social media. Sheffielders have a huge thirst for music and will always get behind the local scene - I think that's always a key foundation for building strong music scenes.”
Great sense of community
It’s a city that has produced bands including Human League, the Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, and Def Leppard. It’s also a city where you can decide to go to a gig any night of the week and have a good choice. This is partly down to the excellent selection of venues who are all happy to host bands, which is a true definition of a music scene. Plus, in Sheffield, everyone knows your uncle, dated your sister, or is best friends with Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys. It’s one of those places.
Joe Food thinks that, “clubs and bands certainly support each other. You have your smaller venues like The Rockin' Chair who are great for bringing through local bands and allowing them the opportunity to cut their teeth; but even the larger venues like the Leadmill often put on local gigs, and it's a huge boost for younger bands to play such a prestigious stage.”
Sheffielders have a huge thirst for music and will always get behind the local scene
Great record shops and venues
Record shops selling gig tickets continue to thrive - Record Collector, LP Record Store, and Record Junkee to name but a few. These have helped to put local bands into the ears of buyers, and knowledgeable staff members keep local music on the high street.
Music venues in Sheffield are also numerous, welcoming and friendly. From the Harley, to the Leadmill, where almost every British band has played at least once, from Coldplay, to Oasis, to the Stereophonics. Sheffield is a city of great, atmospheric gig venues that have evolved over time, and are a far cry from the huge, sterile concert venues that can be found in other cities.
Although of course there are different musical genres across Sheffield, living in a smaller city means that musicians are all keen to give the city a positive boost. Working together as a loose music hub is one way bands can do this.
There’s even a Sheffield based podcast called StillConscious, where a panel of promoters, band members, music journalists, and people from record labels all get together and offer advice to new bands and musicians keen to break onto the music scene.
It’s this support that helps to ensure Sheffield’s reputation as a great hub city for music continues to not only exist, but to thrive.