Sheffield: city of music

A recent report commissioned by The University of Sheffield suggests that Sheffield has the potential to become one of the UK’s leading music cities. With 465 active bands, 69 venues and 65 recording studios, Sheffield has a thriving music scene and a vibrant musical culture.

As a postgraduate Music student at Sheffield (who also studied undergraduate Music here), I have had the opportunity to get involved with the musical life of the city. In my experience, Sheffield has a phenomenally supportive musical community, and there are loads of exciting musical opportunities in the city. To celebrate this, I have compiled a list of things that make Sheffield a great music city.

Sheffield’s Musical Heritage

As most Sheffield residents know, the city has an illustrious musical heritage. Sheffield boasts a number of well-known artists, spanning a range of musical styles, such as soul, synth-pop, Britpop and indie. Some of Sheffield’s most famous stars include Joe Cocker, The Human League, ABC, Pulp and Arctic Monkeys.

Many Sheffield songwriters, such as Jarvis Cocker and Alex Turner, have been inspired by the city. Their work draws heavily on Sheffield’s atmosphere, mythologizing the city’s hills, streets and inhabitants. Similarly, the clanking mechanical soundscapes of Cabaret Voltaire evoke images of Sheffield’s industrial past, echoing the machinery of the steelworks.

Great Music Venues

Sheffield’s longest-running venue is The Leadmill. For up-and-coming bands, playing The Leadmill is a rite of passage, and the venue has hosted the likes of Coldplay, Muse, Oasis and The Killers. The Leadmill also holds several club nights, including the touring vintage dance night Itchy Feet, which is perfect for fans of rock ‘n’ roll and swing.

In terms of smaller venues, The Green Room is a favourite with students. The venue holds regular open mic nights that attract singer-songwriters, comedians and poets. The Harley is also a popular student haunt, with intimate gigs and lively late-night DJ sets.


Tramlines music festival is the highlight of Sheffield’s musical calendar. Founded in 2009, the festival aims to promote local talent and provide a platform for Sheffield’s flourishing music scene. Tramlines has a unique, inclusive vibe and caters to a diverse audience, offering family-friendly spaces and music to suit all tastes.

Music at the University of Sheffield

In terms of music, Sheffield Students’ Union has something for everyone, and there are currently over 25 musical societies. The Students’ Union has a range of different musical activities, including dance classes, ceilidhs and karaoke nights, as well as a club night almost every night of the week. As a student at Sheffield, I have been a member of several ensembles, including choirs, jazz bands, classical ensembles and a rock/pop band.

As I’ve shown, Sheffield is overflowing with musical opportunities for musicians and music-lovers alike. The results of this new report confirm what residents of the city have known for years: Sheffield has always been a great music city.

Relevant Links:

Music: A Snapshot of Sheffield (a report on music in Sheffield, commissioned by The University of Sheffield and delivered by Sensoria)

‘Sheffield positioned as one of the UK’s leading “Music Cities” ’ (from The University of Sheffield website)

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