5 Reasons Why London is the Best Place in the World to Study Music

London is one of the world's most important musical hubs - here's why...


Here at ICMP, we love the city of London. It’s not only home to our celebrated modern music college, but it’s without doubt one of the key centres of the international music industry.

Last summer, it was announced as a student city extraordinaire and something we have to agree with.

Here are five reasons why we think London is the best place in the world to study music.

Because QS says it is!

London has been ranked as the best city in the world for university students in a survey of 85,000 students by the QS higher education group - the organisation responsible for the annual World University Rankings. The ratings take into consideration factors such as quality of life, affordability and the local jobs market.

London scored highly for outstanding cultural, economic, and educational opportunities and was seen as a great location to interact with industry and secure work. It also enjoyed high ratings for its openness to international students and graduate career opportunities.

It’s the live music capital of Europe

In a study by gig website Songkick, London was named Europe’s live music capital, hosting a whopping 19,940 shows in 2017 alone – more than any other European city. London came third globally, close behind second place city Los Angeles with 20,843 gigs, and winner New York with 28,529 shows.


It’s easy to see why London hosts so many live shows each year. It’s a city full of classic venues which cater for a huge variety of different musical genres, such as The O2 Arena, The Roundhouse, the O2 Academy Brixton, KOKO, Eventim Apollo, the Royal Albert Hall, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, Wembley Arena and the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire.

And with London Mayor Sadiq Khan continuing to realise the potential of the late-night cultural economy in the capital, this live music landscape looks set to get even better as we emerge from the other side of the pandemic. In 2016 he appointed comedian Amy Lamé as London’s night czar to act as a champion for night-time venues across the city.

It’s a global music industry hub

When it comes to the movers and shakers of the music business, they’ve all got a stake in London; keen to take advantage of a booming industry which contributed £5.8 billion to the UK economy in 2019*.

Throughout history, many of the world’s most celebrated record labels have originated from the city, including EMI, Rough Trade, Mute, Ministry of Sound, XL Recordings, Hed Kandi, Ninja Tune, Virgin Records and Hyperdub. And of the globe’s major labels that didn’t happen to launch in London, such as Warner Bros Records, Sony BMG and Universal Music Group, they all have a corporate HQ in the city now and continue to feel right at home.

With so many major music organisations being part of the fabric of London, music students benefit from the real sense of musical heritage that you just don’t get from any other city. With iconic musical landmarks dotted about, like Abbey Road Studios, Denmark Street (aka Tin Pan Alley), live music mecca Camden and the buzzing streets of Soho, it’s easy to feel like you’re at the centre of the global music scene … and you’d be right!

Great music is born and bred in London

Some of the most exciting musical genres in history have evolved on the streets of London. Like the birth of punk on King’s Road in Chelsea in the 1970s, the New Romantics of the 1980s, Britpop in the 1990s, grime in the early 2000s and post-dubstep in the 2010s.

As well as musical styles, many successful musicians have long called London and its suburbs their home, including artists such as Adele (West Norwood/Tottenham), Stormzy (Croydon), Dizzee Rascal (Bow), Rita Ora (Notting Hill) and the late, great Amy Winehouse (Camden).

Plus, let’s not forget all the incredible bands associated with London like The Rolling Stones, The Clash, The Spice Girls, The Kinks, Florence and the Machine, Mumford & Sons, Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden.

It’s a global hub for music tech too!

Record labels aren’t the only global companies to make London their home - music tech giants with London satellite offices, such as Spotify, Amazon, Deezer, are leading the way in music innovation. Not to mention the pioneering music start-ups which have launched in London and have their main headquarters here, such as Songkick, Mixcloud, WhoSampled and 7digital.

Things change pretty quickly in the world of music, and we reckon having easy access to these digital music companies at the forefront of the industry can only be a good thing for London-based music students looking to launch a career in the music business.

* UK Music’s Music By Numbers 2020 Report’ 

Take the first steps in your music career with ICMP

We've been developing and delivering contemporary music education for over 30 years – longer than any other music school in the UK. With a proven track-record, countless music industry connections and unrivalled access to facilities, it's easy to see why hundreds of students choose ICMP each year. 

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
June 15, 2022
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