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The rise and rise of grime

UNLIKELY PAIR: Stormzy (left) and Jeremy Corbyn have become friends since the General Election

TICKETMASTER'S 'STATE of Play: Grime' report released last week reveals grime music has broken through to the mainstream and become an established part of British culture – to such an extent that it is now affecting the political establishment.

From underground beginnings, the findings show that a genre born out of inner-city London is now reaching the masses, taking over the radio waves and streaming services, with three in four (73 per cent) of people surveyed being aware of grime and two in five listening to the genre.

The report provides a detailed look at the extent to which grime has become a part of the social fabric in Britain, both culturally and politically.

In the last year, album sales of grime music have grown significantly faster than the total UK music market (93 per cent vs six per cent), and the number of grime events on sale through Ticketmaster and Ticketweb has quadrupled since 2010.


The report shows the influence the #Grime4Corbyn campaign had on the recent General Election by encouraging people to vote for the Labour party. Conducted by Ticketmaster in partnership with youth marketing company Disrupt and the Black Music Research Unit at the University of Westminster, this report looks to lay out the cultural impact of grime music and offer well-founded insight into its growing audience.

LONDON TO THE WORLD: AJ Tracey was one of many grime artists who supported #Grime4Corbyn (image credit: Resident Advisor)

For the first time, stats have indicated the influence that the #Grime4Corbyn campaign had on encouraging people to vote in the most recent General Election, with 58 per cent of grime fans surveyed saying they voted for Labour during the 2017 election, and one in four (24 per cent) saying that the #Grime4Corbyn campaign influenced their vote. With artists such as JME, Akala and AJ Tracey supporting the campaign, it is clear that #Grime4Corbyn gave a voice to the younger generation and influenced the way they voted.


The report also uncovers attitudes towards Form 696, the event risk assessment form used by the police to manage specific events – a review of which was recently ordered by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.
Promoters and licensees of events are required to complete the form ahead of an event, which many believe targets predominantly black and Asian artists. Worryingly, only nine per cent of those surveyed are aware of the risk assessment form – however, almost half (48 per cent) of the respondents, after being told what Form 696 is, feel it is discriminatory because it is only applied to specific events.

Ticketmaster, Disrupt and the University of Westminster support the Mayor of London’s actions and hope these findings will put added pressure on the review.


MAIN MAN: Skepta and the Boy Better Know collective are making waves on the mainstream after years of graft underground

The findings follow a breakthrough year for grime, with Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer becoming the first pure grime album to reach number one in the UK, Stormzy, Giggs and Wiley stealing the show at festivals like Glastonbury, V Festival and Reading and Leeds, and grime collective Boy Better Know taking over the O2 Arena. Of those surveyed, 39 per cent feel that grime is becoming mainstream, with 66 per cent of them saying this is a good thing.

Attendance for grime events has increased by a third (34 per cent) over the last three years, with Ticketmaster selling more tickets to more people than ever before.

When combined, streaming platforms such as Spotify and Deezer prove most popular for grime fans, with 50 per cent of those surveyed using these services to discover and listen to artists. Radio follows, with 46 per cent showing that industry taste makers recognise grime’s rise in popularity, and the genre’s growing audience.

Stormzy dominates as the most-streamed artist and when asked, 47 per cent of grime fans said the Croydon MC is their favourite grime artist.

Streams of grime music on Spotify have more than doubled in the last year, rising from 89 million streams in 2016 to 206 million streams in 2017.

AMBASSADOR: Nadia Rose (image credit: BBC)


The number of grime events has rapidly increased over recent years and with that, the motivators for people attending vary drastically. Although the music and the artist remain important, with 41 per cent attending to experience a personal connection with the music, other factors are now at play. Over one in three (34 per cent) of those surveyed who attend grime events go to meet potential partners.

Further Ticketmaster data shows that 26 per cent of grime fans are more likely to purchase one ticket compared to other genres of music such as rap/urban (20 per cent), rock/pop (19 per cent) and R&B (six per cent).

Andrew Parsons, MD of Ticketmaster UK, said:

“By working with Disrupt Creative and University of Westminster, we set out to create the first set of data around grime and quantify its rise in popularity.

“Ticketmaster has witnessed firsthand the rise of grime, ticketing four times as many grime events as in 2010, and as it continues to grow, we look forward to helping more and more grime fans to become a part of this cultural phenomenon.”

London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, said:

“Grime is one of the great music genres to come out of London, and with international talent like Skepta as well as rising stars like Nadia Rose bringing grime to the world stage, it is little wonder this grassroots music movement is now becoming a huge part of mainstream culture.

“At City Hall, we are doing everything we can to safeguard grassroots music, showing the world that London is open to talent and creativity. As well as setting out measures to promote busking and protect grassroots music venues, we’ve made it clear that Form 696 shouldn’t compromise the capital’s vibrant music industry or unfairly target one community or music genre. That is why we are working with the Met and London’s promoters, venues and artists to make sure London’s legendary music scene is the best and safest in the world.”

Grime artist Lady Leshurr said:

“Grime is the voice of UK youth and we underestimate the power we hold. We need to make our voice heard and stand up for what we believe in.

“It’s great to see that most people surveyed agree with this, and I hope this Ticketmaster report propels the understanding of the genre forward.”

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