Leeds Chamber Annual Dinner 2024-2125-MEDIUM

The business of music

The massive contribution that the music industry makes to the economy was the theme of this year’s Leeds Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner.

Held at the city’s iconic Headingley Stadium, the event attracted more than 200 of the region’s leading entrepreneurs, business and political leaders and decision-makers.

The theme of the Business of Music was chosen by the Chamber owing to its sitting President, Chris Black, being the managing director of Sound Leisure, a world-leading manufacturer of jukeboxes.

Mr Black used his president’s speech slot to praise the contribution that music made to the city and country, not only in terms of delivering economic output, but also in bringing joy into people’s lives and the benefits it brings to people’s health.

Mr Black told the audience: “The music industry generates around £6.7 billion to Britain’s economy every year. It has been one of our principal cultural exports for decades and music produced from our country is listened to and loved all over the world.

“And our great city of Leeds has made an enormous contribution to this heritage and achievement. Whether it is Corrine Bailey Rae, Marc Almond, Mel B, the Kaiser Chiefs or the Utah Saints we remain a factory for brilliant music.

“But music does something more important than make money and encourage trade. There are fewer things in this world that can impact our mood than music. It touches us in ways that nobody can describe. The songs you loved as a child stay with you your whole life. Whether listening to music at home or alongside thousands at a gig is a wonderful experience.

“But it also has an impact on peoples’ mental state. It brings people together and creates a common sense of purpose and joy.”

He later added: “As a city, Leeds has it all and represents the UK economy in one destination. Financial and professional services, tech, property development, food and drink, hospitality – we have got it all here and we are first class in every department.

“We have much to be proud of but also much work still today. The scrapping of HS2 was a bitter blow for us following years of warm words and promises. As a Chamber we continue to press for the transport connectivity we need to raise our productivity and attract inward investment.

“There will almost certainly be an election this year and we will making it known to whoever wins power on their first day in office is made clearly aware of what is needed.”

Audience members were throughout the evening treated to music from the city’s leading cultural institutions, whether it be a performance from Opera North cast members, jazz musicians from Leeds Conservatoire or up-and-coming singer and rapper Phenicia.

Two separate panel discussions were hosted by Mr Black and chief executive James Mason featuring Karl Oxford from Culture City radio, James Warrender from Leeds Conservatoire, Eve Roodhouse from Leeds Council, Henry Filloux-Bennett from Opera North, Kerryn Duckworth from First Direct Arena, Sharon Watson from Leeds Black Music Festival and Samuel “Whiskas” Nicholls from Music Local.

However, the star of the show proved to be Mr Black’s father Alan who told of his journey in setting up Sound Leisure from nothing in 1978 to it becoming a globally recognised leader in the field of jukeboxes, with the units his firm started now enjoyed in homes and businesses across the globe.

The event was hosted by the ever gregarious Jon Hammond and also heard from deputy leader of Leeds City Council Jonathan Pryor who praised the progress that Leeds had made in the past 12 months.

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