Former music journalist turned UNESCO City of Music Officer for Liverpool, Kevin McManus provides his perspective on how major events such as Eurovision can elevate a music city’s brand while supporting the local music sector.
The verdict on Eurovision has been pretty unanimous: Liverpool hosted the best Eurovision ever while at the same time being sensitive throughout to the fact that we were hosting on behalf of Ukraine. For those of us who live here, it merely confirmed what we already knew; that Liverpool is among the top music cities in the world.
So, what is the impact of a major event like Eurovision on a city? The early indications of the economic impact on the night-time economy and the hospitality sector are incredibly positive, with an estimated additional 500,000 visitors to the city and the significant increase in visitor-spend that numbers like this bring. For me, the key thing is the positive impact the event had on the Liverpool music city brand.
We always have stories to tell about the amazing new talent that emerges from the city every year. Still, we forget to promote that we have some incredibly successful global music businesses based here. Music tourism and the music industry generate more than £200 million a year of GVA for the city.
While the spotlight was naturally on Eurovision contestants of the past and present, the undeniable presence of Liverpool’s music scene was a powerful reminder of our city’s Guinness World Record for the highest number of Number One singles. Rebecca Ferguson performed at a semi-final, while the final featured an interval show under the Liverpool Songbook banner. Our up-and-coming talent was showcased to large audiences at the Eurovillage. At the same time, at the launch event held at St. George’s Hall, a wave of nostalgia swept over attendees as they were reminded of Liverpool’s musical icons such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Real Thing, Atomic Kitten, and The Lightning Seeds. The event also showcased the emergence of a new star, Jamie Webster, whose powerful track This Place quickly became a heartfelt anthem for the city.
What’s next? Well, Marketing Liverpool has already seized the moment, and all key gateways to the city now feature Liverpool Music City banners. I have eagerly anticipated implementing this straightforward yet significant statement of purpose for a long time. Marketing Liverpool is also commissioning a new music tourism campaign to emphasise our diverse and authentic music offer, which is here all year round.
All of this will be explored at the Modern Music Cities conference on the 14 July, where the key question asked is, do music cities matter? We will be getting opinions from experienced music professionals from all over the world, but the answer from Liverpool is a resounding ‘Yes!’. Music makes Liverpool special, and we should celebrate that fact and ensure we support all the elements that allow music, and the music sector, to flourish.