Manchester’s music renaissance?

Here at UTC Events, nestled in a corner of Manchester, our perspective on the musical landscape in these parts is a privileged one.

This great Northern city has a long-standing reputation of producing some of the most successful music artists in the history of popular music; from Joy Division to James, and from The Stone Roses to The Smiths, many names that pervade the history of popular music owe their success to roots in this rainy corner in the North of England.

Except… Well, whilst nobody wants to admit it around these parts, for a long time after the 80’s and 90’s hey days, Manchester didn’t have nearly the level of success in music that it once enjoyed.

Laurels have been rested on ever since Oasis were at the height of their pomp in the late ‘90s. There’s no clear indication as to why this was the case, but it was clear that in the early 2000s, many musicians that I collaborated or crossed paths with, were leaving for London to find their fortunes. Many of them succeeded, but for me there will always be a hint of sadness that they didn’t continue to ply their trade here in Cottonopolis; Manchester music has always had a very definite signature sound and a cult-like pride in its following.

In the last few years however, Manchester music has shown signs of a significant renaissance. Some great acts have started emerging, such as Delphic, Everything Everything and The Courteeners – not to mention a host of genuinely brilliant unsigned talent.

So why the sudden upturn in good musical output? There’s some conjecture surrounding this one, but in my opinion one of the reasons lies in the success of a couple of the educational institutions in the city.

Salford University isn’t exactly new to the game when it comes to producing good musicians, but of late there have been vast swathes of them. Most of them have stuck together since graduating, forming rolling communities of working musical contractors in the southern suburbs of the city, whereas a few have gone onto even bigger success, working for touring bands or creating success for themselves. Everything Everything is one such case in point.

More recently, The Royal Northern College of Music, known more prevalently as a classical conservatoire, has, under the tutelage of Andy Stott, quietly been putting itself on the map as one of the go-to places to study popular music. Over the last five years, Andy has managed to deliver a varied and well-planned degree course, delivered by some of the best tutors in the business. This inspires what are already hugely talented students to deliver at an exceptional level, so much so that the college now attracts the top talent from all over the world. As such, the quality of the musicians graduating from the RNCM is truly as good as it gets anywhere. What’s more, the students graduate having been instilled with excellent professional skills outside of their musical craft. In short, they make a very strong case for employment in companies such as UTC Events, which is why, since we became affiliate partners in 2013, UTC has hired more than fifty RNCM students or graduates.

From our clients’ point of view, this only means good things. The fact that we employ these young, hungry, driven and talented musicians means that we are able to supply exceptionally high-quality acts on a consistent basis, all the while giving these musicians exposure and useful experience out on the circuit – not to mention the paid work! It really is a win: win situation.

In amongst the crowd, the odd diamond inevitably surfaces.  A number of these musicians do get picked up by labels and touring acts; only recently two of our performers joined The Shires touring band and I was pleasantly surprised to see them performing on The Graham Norton Show on BBC1.

Nothing gives UTC Events, or I’m sure Manchester’s once-again burgeoning musical community, more pride.
Adam Birkett 19/02/16