Threats to the talent pipeline: examining the post-pandemic third-tier cultural city

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Primary cities, such as London, Paris, and New York, are global entities; urban environments that are linked via size, influence, branding, and impact, and with intense connectivity and mobility in common (Brabazon 2015). These global cities are ‘de-nationalised’ centres networked to other global cities and in some ways separate from national imaginings (Sassen 2014). Although global cities are natural hubs for the creative industries (absorbing attention, finance, and wider socio-economic benefits) it is in the second-tier cities that national creative industries’ identities become more clearly expressed. Such cities have modelled cultural regeneration and city imaging projects with some success around the distinctive qualities of music heritage and hallmark events, or through the production, support and marketing of young ‘scenes’. In the UK, second-tier cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Brighton, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, and Cardiff have all become self-defined and imaged in varying ways as music hubs; as ‘music cities.’ In this chapter we focus on the under-investigated third-tier of cities (or ‘Cinderella’ cities); those that act as a talent pipeline for the music industries, and may be described as ‘proto-markets’ (Toynbee 2000), or perhaps precursors to such. These third-tier cities (and towns) are typified by a one-way flow of creative and business talent to the primary and secondary cities in their countries, making them problematic in terms of their sustainability. We argue that this is increasingly the case as second-tier cities have developed as regional hubs. Drawing on a number of previously unpublished research studies into music heritage (Anderton, Bennet & James, 2018), the creative music industries (Anderton & James, 2020), live music consumption (Anderton & James, 2019), and the impact of Covid-19 (James, 2020), we explore the case of Southampton as a third-tier music city – one which has acted as a proto-market at various times in its history but, even pre-Covid, was struggling to hold on to its creative personnel. In examining the city, we develop a deeper understanding of the ‘third-tier’ city and question how the city can gain recognition as a growing music economy in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking the Music Business
Subtitle of host publicationMusic Contexts, Rights, Data and COVID-19
EditorsGuy Morrow, Daniel Nordgård, Peter Tschmuck
Publication statusIn preparation - 2021

Publication series

NameMusic Business Research

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