Mayor launches 'Sounds Like London' to support grassroots music scene

23 May 2018
  • A new summer programme taking place across the capital – with gigs and events taking place every single day throughout June
  • The initiative is part of a package of measures from the Mayor to help support and protect the capital’s grassroots music scene
  • Sounds Like London will shine a light on women working in the music industry and is part of the Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign, which celebrates the role of women in the capital.


The Mayor, Sadiq Khan, today announced the full programme for ‘Sounds Like London’ - a month-long celebration of live music taking place throughout June 2018 which aims to encourage Londoners and visitors to support grassroots music venues.


Sounds Like London will also champion women working in all aspects of the music industry – as part of the Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign.


Even though women make up almost two-thirds of entry-level roles in the music industry1, they are underrepresented at a senior level – from label management and promoters to board members and senior executives. Two-thirds of UK live music acts feature all-male line-ups and only five per cent of DJs, producers and sound engineers are women2. Sounds Like London will include a number of gigs and initiatives to encourage more women in the music industry and shine a light on female role models.


Sounds Like London will feature more than 200 gigs across the capital, with events taking place every day during June. The full programme of events can be viewed online at:


Highlights of Sounds Like London include:


  • FIGHTBACK LONDON - Throughout June, various grassroots music venues: In collaboration with the Music Venue Trust (MVT), the Mayor is backing a series of gigs across the capital raising money for the MVT’s Emergency Response service, which directly intervenes to support grassroots music venues threatened by closure. ‘FIGHTBACK LONDON’ features at least 75 gigs in a number of London’s grassroots music venues, promoted by young female promoters, who will be mentored by women in the industry.


  • AIRBNB CONCERTS Throughout June, various venues: A partnership between Airbnb and little concert. This series will see 11 Airbnb Concerts across London over the course of a month, kicking off with a unique performance on 1 June at Tower Bridge. British singer, songwriter and musician Jade Bird, who recently appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, will become the first performer in history to hold a concert inside the iconic landmark’s North Tower.


  • BBC MUSIC INTRODUCINGThursday 7 June, The Lexington, Islington: BBC Radio 1 presenter Abbie McCarthy hosts an all women-programme, including Kara Marni, Tiana Major 9 and Olivia Nelson at The Lexington.


  • X-POSÉ Thursday 21 June, Fabric Nightclub: An event showcasing the capital’s leading deaf musicians and DJs, X-posé is a partnership between the Midi Music Company, Deaf Rave and Fabric. Hosted by MC Angel, X-posé will feature Sign Song artists – Deaf performers using British Sign Language to interpret words instead of singing. Fabric’s vibrating dance floor enhances the experience for Deaf and hard of hearing revellers.


  • BOILER ROOM Wednesday 27 June, streamed online from a high-profile London location: Independent music platform and cultural curator Boiler Room will take over a high-profile London location for one night only with an all-female line-up. Artists and location will be confirmed closer to the performance, which will be streamed to millions worldwide.


  • LEVEL-UP – Thursday 28 June, Fabric Nightclub presented by fabric, Point Blank Music School and DJ Carly Foxx (Love Story recordings). London’s leading young female producers will get the opportunity to play for a panel of top industry talent, including Music Executive Nick Halkes, founder of XL recordings and artist manager. Harriet Moss of Manners McDade Publishing and Eve Horne of Native Instruments. Currently, only five per cent of UK’s DJs and producers are women. These sessions aim to inspire and nurture future talent and help work towards a more gender-balanced industry.


  • ALL NIGHT at BOLD TENDENCIES - Bold Tendencies and Frank's Café, 7th - 10th Floors Multi-Storey Car Park: For one night only, Bold Tendencies will extend its opening hours all day and all night in the rooftop spaces of Peckham’s Multi-Storey Car Park. This has never been done before and is in particular focussed on the hours between 6 pm and 6 am. This special event sits within the organisation’s 12th summer programme of sculpture, orchestral music, opera and architecture. Amongst the interventions is a spectacular new public work by award winning artist and designer Es Devlin. For more than a decade Bold Tendencies has transformed its car park home with its culture programmes. With immersive public spaces and spectacular views across London, the project celebrates the free enjoyment of public space in the city. 

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is a powerhouse of music, having produced artists from Adele to Stormzy, and the XX to Dua Lipa. Grassroots music venues are at the very heart of our success as a global capital of music – they are the places where emerging artists are able to hone their talent, and great producers and promoters are able to cut their teeth in the industry. 

“However, too many venues find themselves under threat due to rising rents, business rates or encroaching development. I’m doing everything I can as Mayor of London to protect and support grassroots music venues. If you love live music as much as I do, then check out the amazing Sounds Like London programme, buy a ticket and support your local music venue. 

“This year’s Sounds Like London programme will put women artists, DJs, producers and promoters front and centre -  showcasing the best of the industry and inspiring the next generation of female talent.”


Since the beginning of his Mayoralty, Sadiq Khan has championed the capital’s grassroots live music scene – publishing a progress report in January 2017, which highlighted the significant contribution that these venues make to London’s economy. In total, grassroots music venues contribute £91.8m and support 2,260 full time jobs. For every £10 spent on tickets to grassroots music venues in London, £17 is spent nearby on food, drink and transport. £44m a year is invested by London’s grassroots music venues in talent development, highlighting their importance in discovering emerging artists.


The Mayor appointed Amy Lamé as Night Czar to act as a champion of the capital’s night-time economy and culture and develop a vision of London as a 24-hour city. Amy chairs the London Music Board, which brings together representatives from the music industry, government, tourism, culture and education and oversees how the Rescue Plan will be put into practice.


Sadiq has also announced that he will implement Agent of Change in his London Plan - the Mayor’s overall planning strategy for the capital. This means that developers building new residential properties near grassroots music venues will be responsible for ensuring they are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound from nearby music venues, instead of the crippling cost falling on the venues themselves. The Agent of Change principle was instrumental in securing the future of Ministry of Sound, and has since been used to protect other venues, including Village Underground in Hackney.


In a further boost to grassroots music venues, the Mayor called for a review of the controversial risk assessment Form 696, following concerns by the capital’s music industry that it unfairly targeted urban and grime acts. In November 2017, the form was scrapped by the Metropolitan Police.


Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “London has a great musical heritage but it’s not something we can take for granted. If we don’t support our grassroots venues and fail to support emerging talent, then we’re putting the city’s position as the music capital of the world at risk. We know that women are underrepresented in the music industry, so I’m delighted that the Sounds Like London programme is bringing great female talent to the fore, highlighting the capital’s wealth of fantastic women artists, producers and promoters.


“Sounds Like London is a brilliant initiative to galvanise the industry and showcase the exceptional diversity of London’s music scene. Get out there and buy a ticket!”


Amy Lamé, Night Czar, said: “London’s grassroots music scene is central to the reputation of the capital’s buzzing night life. Since becoming Night Czar, I have worked with the members of the London Music Board, venue owners and artists across the city to champion and safeguard live music venues – so we continue to generate the world’s greatest musical talent.


“Sounds Like London will build on key policies – such as Agent of Change and the scrapping of Form 696 – to help us to secure the future of London’s night-time economy and culture, developing a truly 24-hour city that works for everyone.”

James Beshara, Airbnb Head of Music Concerts, commented: “Cultivating unique, local experiences is at the core of what we do at Airbnb, so we’re thrilled to be a partner of the Mayor of London’s ‘Sounds Like London’ campaign. This series of concerts is a great way for us to further champion women in the music industry while helping to support and protect the capital’s grassroots music scene by bringing together fans and artists in unique locations around the city.”

Sounds Like London ambassadors


Abbie McCarthy, BBC Introducing DJ, said: “'I'm so excited & chuffed to be an ambassador for this fantastic campaign. There is so much incredible female talent around & I can't wait to champion this as much as possible! I'm really looking forward to giving special opportunities to grassroots musicians and bringing through the next generation of talent.”


Vanessa White, Singer in The Saturdays, said:There is so much amazing music and creative talent coming out of London right now and that has been the case for so many years.  So much of that talent is from phenomenal women in the industry as both performers and also behind the scenes, who really help to drive the scene forward and keep it vibrant and exciting.  As a Londoner, I’m proud to support the Sounds Like London campaign and celebrate all of the excellent women in music and to help to inspire the next generation of emerging talent to pursue careers in the music industry.”

KT Tunstall, Singer-songwriter, said: “When women are making up almost two thirds of entry-level roles in the music industry, but are underrepresented across the board at a higher level, something is definitely off. I’m happy to support ‘Sounds Like London’ in encouraging more women to thrive in all aspects of the music industry and shine a light on female role models, as well as supporting the grassroots venues where we all start from.”

Vanessa Reed, Chief Executive PRS Foundation, said: “PRS Foundation is looking forward to being part of the Sounds Like London music celebrations in June, particularly with its focus on promoting diverse emerging talent and the next generation of incredible women who are making music their career. I'm convinced that 2018 will be an important watershed moment for increasing gender equality in music. The Mayor of London's month of events is a great opportunity for the music industry to acknowledge and push for that crucial and positive step forwards.”

Angelique Kidjo, internationally-acclaimed jazz singer, said: “It was great to headline Women of the World and I am thrilled to be coming back and playing this very special show as part of Sounds Like London. I look forward to seeing my sisters (and brothers) there”

MOBO Award winning saxophonist, YolanDa Brown, said: “There is nothing like the Sound of London. We have our unique feeling, intonation, expression and even quirkiness and that is why over many generations music from London has always been celebrated. I am proud to be an Ambassador of the Mayor’s Sound Like London campaign and excited to celebrate women in music, the emerging talent that will be flying the flag around the world for generations to come and the grass root music venues that are the breeding grounds for our London scene.”

DJ Ritu, DJ and broadcaster, said:The UK has always been an effervescent fountain for new music genres, and London-based artists can claim responsibility for exporting innovative styles like Drum n’ Bass, Acid Jazz, Asian Underground, and Grime across the world. ‘Sounds Like London’ consolidates our city’s unique musical treasure trove, showcasing our inimitable & diverse range of creative talent, and in its inaugural year which coincides with the centenary of the Suffragette movement, places women at the forefront!”

Funk Butcher, aka Kwame Safo, DJ and Music Producer, said:It’s a huge honour to form part of the curation of Sounds Like London, which will ultimately shape the future for the many voices which make up London's audio landscape. We will endeavour to redress the glaringly obvious disparities in the music industry by providing a megaphone for marginalised female voices in the music industry and shining the spotlight on their more often than not overlooked talents.”


Arfa Butt, Music and Talent Director, said: “From bedroom demos to the Brits, to breaking new territories on an international scale across all creative disciplines, London is at the cutting edge of new music, style and culture. We create trends which leave the world with a lasting taste of that unique London flavour. The Sounds Like London campaign is a beautiful way for us to highlight, showcase, celebrate and bring together extraordinary women from across the music industry. Real women with real stories to inspire, empower and raise the aspirations of the next generation of creatives.”


City Hall is working with a range of partners on Sounds Like London, including: AirBnB, A Man About A Dog, Apple, Barbican, BBC Music Introducing, Boiler Room, City of London Corporation, Classic BRIT Awards, Ealing Eclectic MusicSpace, East Creative, Eat Your Own Ears, Featured Artist Coalition, Future Bounce, Girls of Grime, little concert, London Symphony Orchestra, London Tech Week, Make Music Day, MTV, Musicians’ Union, Night Time Industries Association, Omnii, Rich Mix, Serious, Shaftesbury PLC, Southbank Centre, Talentbanq, Transgressive, Universal, Wake Up Gigs and Westfield.



Notes to editors

  • 1UK Music Diversity Survey 2017
  • 2According to research by

About #Behindeverygreatcity                                                                          

To mark the centenary of the first women in the UK winning the right to vote, and to drive forward gender equality across the city today, the Mayor has launched a year-long women's equality campaign: #BehindEveryGreatCity. The campaign will include a year-long programme of public art by women artists on London Underground and the unveiling of the first statue of a women - suffragist leader Millicent Fawcett - in Parliament Square. For more information, visit:


MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Information for the media is available from Chris Calvert at [email protected], or call 020 7983 4755.

GENERAL PUBLIC/NON-MEDIA ENQUIRIES: Call the Public Liaison Unit at the Greater London Authority on 020 7983 4100

DUTY PRESS OFFICER: For out-of-hours media enquiries, please call 020 7983 4000

Share this page