What do the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Coldplay, David Bowie, and Pink Floyd have in common? They all come from London! As one of the most influential forces in music and popular culture, the iconic capital city is unsurprisingly popular among aspiring singers, bands, and producers.
That said, given all of the factors that need to be considered when deciding whether to move to and live in a new city, is London still a suitable starting point for your music career? In short, yes – it certainly can be. However, there are several things that you should keep in mind when making this decision.
To help you determine whether London is the place to be, we’ve put together a guide detailing what to expect from the city, including the reasons why you should move there and what might motivate you to look elsewhere.
Studying Music in London
For those interested in first studying music, you’ll be glad to know that London is an ideal destination. Not only does it sit at the top of QS rankings as the best city to study in the world, but it’s also home to numerous music schools. You can find esteemed names such as the London Music Academy, AB Music Academy, and North London Academy here.
Back to the ranking, the capital city achieved its place by scoring high in areas like affordability, quality of life, and the local job market. It also earned top scores for cultural, educational, and economic opportunities. International students can expect a warm welcome, too, as London enjoys exceptional ratings for openness to learners from abroad.
The Live Music Capital
In 2017, gig service Songkick named London the live music capital of Europe, having hosted just under 20,000 shows in that year alone. Perhaps even more impressive is that it placed third in the world, trailing behind Los Angeles and New York in the first place.
With Mayor Sadiq Khan placing a focus on the late-night cultural potential of the city, the live music scene is set to only improve as we move past the restrictions of the coronavirus pandemic. It’s also worth noting that London is home to an innumerable number of bars and clubs where musicians can gain exposure and get their name out.
The Global Industry Hub
London is known as a global hub for various industries, chief among them being finance and professional services. At the same time, it’s also a key destination for the movers and shakers of the music business, which contributed a handsome £5.8 billion to the national economy in 2019 alone.
Many of the world’s top labels have corporate headquarters situated in London, including Sony BMG, Warner Bros Records, and Universal Music Group. Perhaps even more impressive is that some of the most well-known labels are originally from the city. The Ministry of Sound, Virgin Records, XL Recordings, and EMI all started out in London.
We can also look at the many influential music genres that rose out of the UK capital’s streets. In the 1970s, it was on King’s Road in Chelsea where punk music began, followed by the New Romantics and then Britpop two decades later. In the 2000s, we saw the rise of grime and then post-dubstep in the 2010s.
You’ll also have access to some of the world’s music tech giants, including Amazon, Deezer, and Spotify, who all retain an office in London. Songkick, Mixcloud, and several other startups have their headquarters in the city as well.
A key aspect of any aspiring singer, musician, or producer’s career is getting their work professionally recorded. Luckily, there’s no shortage of studios open to newcomers in the city. You won’t struggle to find an accessible and affordable London recording studio that’s available 24/7 for you to mix, record, edit and enjoy.
For example, London recording studio providers Pirate.com offer several multi-purpose facilities with self-service access. These can prove immensely valuable when starting out, as the studios are already fitted with all of the tools you need to write and record music professionally, saving you a potential fortune on equipment.
Living in London
Music aside, there are many reasons why London makes for a great city to live in. Aside from the endless hustle and bustle and all of the networking opportunities it brings, the UK capital is also home to countless beautiful landmarks, diverse and friendly people, delicious food, and plenty of peaceful parks to unwind in after a busy day.
Not convinced? Here’s a brief list of some of the reasons to live in London.
Depending on where you are in your music career and whether you plan to study, you might need to supplement your income with a side gig. Whether you’re looking for something to do on your off days or a full-time career, there will be no shortage of work opportunities for you to grab in London.
For most people, living in London doesn’t require saving up for a car. In fact, the city has excellent public transport in the form of buses, tubes, trains, and taxis that operate around the clock. Plus, you won’t have to shell out a lot of money to get a ride, as TfL (Transport for London) is highly subsidized, making public transport very cost-effective.
Buildings and Landmarks
Let’s not forget that living in London means being within sight of so many iconic landmarks, including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, London Eye, and London Bridge among countless others. When it comes to architecture, London has something for everyone, including both ultra-modern city skylines and enchanting regions of the old city.
With such a large population and so many businesses, you might be surprised to find out that London is not a concrete jungle. In fact, its sprawling urban environment is complemented by thousands of well-maintained parks covering nearly a fifth of the city. This gives you plenty of places to sit, relax, and get inspired whenever you’re feeling creative.
Finally, you’ll be glad to know that London comprises a tolerant multicultural community of people from all walks of life and corners of the globe. It is said that over 300 languages are spoken in the culturally rich capital. It’s unlikely that you’ll struggle to find your crowd and make connections as you explore the city.
So, are there any downsides to living in London? While you’re far more likely to come to love the city despite its flaws, it’s worth being aware of them. The most commonly mentioned challenge is rent prices. Property in London is seldom cheap, but there are various accommodation options such as room sharing available to help you lower the cost.
Depending on where you stay and work, you might also have to contend with a few crowded areas and tourists. This is less of a problem for extroverts, though aspiring musicians who prefer their time alone might feel overwhelmed when trying to navigate the city. You might also find yourself spending a little longer than usual waiting in lines.
London isn’t perfect – no city is. But it should be clear at this point that there are many benefits to living in the city as an up-and-coming musical artist. Be sure to consider it if you’re looking for somewhere to kickstart your music career.