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Is Bristol Really Britain's Most Musical City?

By Tim Chester

Posted on 15 Mar 10

 
 

So it was announced last week – to an inevitable chorus of ‘lolz’, ‘whatevs’, ‘what about Manchester?’s and ‘bullshits’ – that Bristol is Britain’s most musical city.

This was decided by the Performing Rights Society, in one of those redundant surveys that merely serve to draw attention to the surveyers (and of course fill 90% of the Metro newspaper as ‘news’). Apparently you take the amount of music (Massive Attack, Tricky, Portishead – who are, as the name might suggest, from nearby Portishead) and divide by the number of residents (in Bristol’s case a meagre 1 million inhabitants, making it the UK’s eighth largest city).

Massive Attack



Having grown up in Bristol, I can categorically let you know now it’s not that musical a city. At all. The trip-hop movement of twenty years ago aside, what has, to reiterate, the UK’s 8th largest city given us? I’m struggling to think of one band. Dubstep has a pretty robust foothold there, with Joker, Appleblim and Headhunter residents, but beyond that the city’s collective output is about as inspiring as a Frankmusik B-side.



I was back in Bristol in January at the main indie club The Cooler and the DJ finished with Stiltskin’s ‘Inside’ and there was a full dance floor.

Bristol aside, though, the whole list is pretty baffling. Cardiff at number two, fair play, but Wakefield third? The Cribs aside, what has the UK’s 11th biggest city given us? I googled it and the band that keeps cropping up is Obvious Pseudonym. Not heard of them? You must know ‘Keith Chegwin For A Day’?



Cheltenham, Paisley, Londonderry… you could go on.

The reason for this crazy list is that the PRS scanned their 65,000 strong database of members to see which places had the most musicians or songwriters that had signed up to the PRS per capita, so what it really means is that Bristolians are best at covering their backs. The city has the most people making sure they get money when their songs are played on the radio or adverts. Even if they are a one-man-band Darwin Deez covers act from Bedminster that have zero chance of getting their music picked up by Audi.

So anyway, what really is the most musical city in Britain right now?

 
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