On the eve of the first ever all-Mancunian FA Cup Final (Saturday, 3 June), new analysis from the BPI – the representative voice for the UK’s world-leading record labels and music companies – reveals Greater Manchester is also scoring as the top location outside London for nurturing music talent.

Led by celebrated Man City fan Liam Gallagher and BRIT Award winning rapper Aitch, who supports City’s Wembley opponents Man Utd, the North West England destination finishes top of a league table ranking UK counties by the success of their artists on the Official UK Albums Chart over the past 12 months ending April 2023. The men’s final is taking place three weeks after the Women’s FA Cup Final was played at Wembley where Man Utd’s women team were beaten by Chelsea.

Based on Official Charts sales and streaming data, the research highlights the success of music talent, with record label backing, from every nation and region of the UK. It shows that nearly two thirds of the UK’s most successful albums by homegrown talent were recorded by artists who grew up or formed their bands outside London. The research categorises the top 300 albums from the past year, excluding catalogue titles, re-issues and ‘best ofs’.

Sophie Jones, BPI Chief Strategy Officer and Interim Chief Executive, said:

“Greater Manchester has long been celebrated for both its music and footballing prowess, so it’s fitting that on the eve of the first ever all-Manchester FA Cup Final, the county should head a BPI league table of the most successful destinations for nurturing music talent. Our research also shows that every part of the UK is blessed with gifted music artists, but only by properly investing in this talent at a time when the global music market is more competitive than ever can we hope to retain and enhance our status as a world-leading music power.”

UK’s leading 10 music counties outside London (source: BPI based on Official Charts data)

Pos. Town/city
Greater Manchester
East Sussex
West Yorkshire
South Yorkshire

Greater Manchester is UK’s top music county thanks to diverse mix of artistic talent

Just as an international array of footballing brilliance took its two English Premier League teams to this year’s FA Cup Final, Greater Manchester’s No.1 status is down to an eclectic mix of artistic talent drawn from multiple styles and genres. This includes Manchester-born rock icon Liam Gallagher whose release C’mon You Know last year became his third successive solo No.1 on the Official Albums Chart. Also from the city, rapper Aitch’s debut album Close To Home charted at No.2 last August, while other successful artists include fellow rapper Meekz with Respect The Come Up and Everything Everything and Pale Waves, whose respective most recent albums Raw Data Feel and Unwanted both reached the top five.

A number of artists from the wider region also contributed including indie pop band The Lottery Winners from Leigh with their fifth album Anxiety Replacement Therapy, which recently entered at No. 1 on the Official Albums Chart. Wigan rock band The Lathums landed their second chart-topping album in March with From Nothing To A Little Bit More, while Stockport five-piece Blossoms made it to No.1 for a third time last year with Ribbon Around The Bomb.

While Man Utd edged past Brighton & Hove Albion to reach this Saturday’s FA Cup Final, beating them on penalties in their semi-final tie, the Seagulls’ county of East Sussex was similarly narrowly defeated as the UK’s top music location. It finishes in second place behind Greater Manchester, driven largely by artists from Brighton, which is the top music town or city overall. The south coast city’s music stars include the rapper ArrDee whose mixtape album Pier Pressure reached No.2 last year, indie rock group Lovejoy (Pebble Brain) and metalcore band Architects (the classic symptoms of a broken spirit).

Bradford is one of UK’s top music centres – the planned location for a new specialist creative school

Both West and South Yorkshire are among the UK’s biggest counties for producing music talent with West Yorkshire’s third-placed finish including several artists from Bradford. The city is the planned location for BPI’s proposed new specialist creative school based on the successful BRIT School model. The BPI is bidding to open the school through a highly-competitive government funding process, with a decision expected in the coming months. Bradford’s successes over the past year include BRIT-nominated bassline collective Bad Boy Chiller Crew, DJ and record producer Nia Archives and veteran rock band The Cult whose latest studio album Under The Midnight Sun – their first in more than six years – was released last October.

Nearby, Leeds makes a significant contribution to West Yorkshire’s showing, including Yard Act (The Overload) and Eighties electronic music legends Soft Cell with Happiness Not Included, the duo’s first new studio set in nearly two decades.

From the same city as this year’s other beaten FA Cup semi-finalists Sheffield Utd, Arctic Monkeys (The Car) and Def Leppard (Diamond Star Halos) were among the main contributors to South Yorkshire’s album run over the past year. Elsewhere in the county, there were chart-topping successes for Doncaster artists Louis Tomlinson (Faith in the Future) and Yungblud (Yungblud), as well as by Rotherham indie rock band The Reytons (What’s Rock and Roll?).

Hertfordshire and Essex also rank among the UK’s top five counties. Hertfordshire’s fourth place includes No.1 albums for Hertford singer-songwriter George Ezra (Gold Rush Kid) and St Albans rock band Enter Shikari (A Kiss for the Whole World).

Fifth-placed Essex’s successes over the past year took in chart-topping albums from Chelmsford’s Eurovision hero Sam Ryder (There’s Nothing But Space, Man!), Charli XCX (Crash) who grew up in Start Hill and Witham-born Olly Murs (Marry Me).

The UK’s top 10 music counties are completed by Hampshire, Merseyside, Cambridgeshire and Surrey.

Brighton UK’s top music city, with Liverpool and Glasgow also making the cut

When artists are ranked by the town or city where they grew up or where bands were formed, Brighton takes top spot, led by rapper ArrDee. Manchester is in second place with Liam Gallagher the city’s top performing album artist over the last year and Liverpool third, headed by Jamie Webster.

The top 10 music towns and cities also include Glasgow whose successes over the past 12 months ranged from new albums by veteran artists such as Belle & Sebastian and Simple Minds to new talent such as Joesef whose debut album Permanent Damage was released in January.

UK’s leading 10 music towns/cities outside London (source: BPI based on Official Charts data)

Pos. Town/city

Camden is London’s top music borough ahead of Wandsworth and Lewisham

In London, Camden is the city’s top music borough thanks to a mix of seasoned bands such as Coldplay and Suede who were both formed there and newer talent such as Rina Sawayama who grew up in the north-west location and whose second album Hold The Girl reached No.3 on the Official Albums Chart last September. Camden also boasts the rapper Sus, indie rock artist Bakar and pop band Kawala.

BRIT-nominated record producer, singer and songwriter Fred Again leads Wandsworth to second place with successes including the top five album Actual Life 3 (January 1 – September 9 2022), while south-east London borough Lewisham’s third-place finish includes hip hop collective D-Block Europe, rapper Russ Millions and Rock duo Nova Twins.

Kensington & Chelsea in fourth place is led by singer-songwriter Mabel and the rapper Digga D. Lambeth completes the top five boroughs, largely because of hip hop/rap talent such as Dave, K-Trap, and Frosty.

Other top London boroughs for music talent over the past 12 months include Hackney from where rappers Clavish, NSG and Rimzee all hail, Hammersmith & Fulham whose own rap talent takes in the likes of Central Cee but is also where singer-songwriter Beabadoobee grew up. Adele leads Haringey’s charge and Stormzy Croydon’s thanks to their respective most recent No.1 albums 30 and This Is What I Mean.

London’s leading 10 boroughs for music (source: BPI based on Official Charts data)
Pos. Borough
Kensington & Chelsea
Hammersmith & Fulham