‘It is a big deal’ - why Sound City Ipswich will invigorate town’s live music scene

Ed Sheeran outside The Swan in Ipswich as an up and coming star. Picture: JEN O'NEILL

Ed Sheeran outside The Swan in Ipswich as an up and coming star. Picture: JEN O'NEILL - Credit: Archant

Be under no illusions – Sound City Ipswich is a big deal, says music fan and local democracy reporter, Jason Noble in the wake of the announcement a major music festival and conference is coming to town.

It marks the first time there is a real commitment from a host of organisations uniting to really invigorate the town's live music scene.

It's true there has been a lack of dedicated music venues in the town - one only needs to compare Ipswich to Norwich (The University of East Anglia's LCR, Norwich Arts Centre, Waterfront) or Cambridge's Junction and Corn Exchange venues to see that.

But in reality, not enough has been made of what the town already has going for it.

Joe Bailey and The Smokehouse team have done a fine job of bringing touring acts to the venue, but with limited capacity can only bring artists of a limited stature to the town.

The Regent is suitable enough for the heritage bands, but as a seated venue just doesn't work for many gigs where audiences stand. In that respect promoting the Corn Exchange hasn't gone far enough.

Yes, it has attracted bands in previous years, but there is no reason why it should not be able to compete with the likes of its Cambridge namesake or Norwich Waterfront.

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Most bands will play somewhere between five and seven UK tour dates, meaning the competition over those spaces is finely fought - once you factor in the key stops in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow that doesn't leave a lot of room.

But an event like this is exactly the kind of springboard the town needs to make its mark, and start changing that attitude that only cities can compete.

It needs promoters and bookers to take a chance on the town, it needs venues to offer competitive deals on stage hire, it needs people to go out and support their local live music scene.

Ipswich Music Day attracts up to 40,000 people every year - an audience waiting to be capitalised on for future concerts.

Sound City can provide just the platform to get that ball rolling.

It is essentially taking on the same format as Live at Leeds where dozens of venues and bars across the city host a day of music and festival tickets buy you access to all stages. There is a reason its headliners have included the likes of Frank Turner and Royal Blood in previous years.

And if Ipswich can start to make that kind of progress, have venues and promoters unite like they do for Live At Leeds, and rally locals to enjoy live music, there's a very real chance it can continue to bring the talent to our town.

Read more: Could new music festival put Ipswich on the map?

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