15 March 2021

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Youth Music is improving access to sustainable creative careers for young people, thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery.

Player support has enabled the charity to establish a £2 Million Incubator Fund, which provides grants for organisations who support the career development of 18-25 year olds within the music industry. Thirty-one music organisations were awarded funding in late 2020, with further grants to follow in 2021.

The selected organisations - many hard hit by the pandemic - were awarded up to £30,000 to improve access to sustainable creative careers for people aged 18-25. Those chosen demonstrated viable and progressive plans for supporting young people into music careers, as well as a commitment to encouraging equality in the industry. Grant recipients included:

  • Breakout black radio station, No Signal, set to launch a three-month industry training programme after gaining worldwide success during lockdown
  • Ezra Collective, a London jazz group committed to training black women in behind the scenes music roles
  • Bristol broadcaster Noods Radio, who are empowering young people to spearhead their record label with the Test Pressings project
Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, said: "The organisations we're funding are trailblazers in their own fields. They recognise the huge creative and commercial opportunities to be gained from nurturing the diverse talent that our music industry needs. We constantly campaign to rebuild a more inclusive music industry and our Incubator Fund allows us to propel the forward-thinking organisations sharing that vision.
"What's particularly special with our Incubator Fund is seeing individuals who kicked off their careers at Youth Music funded organisations (including Reprezent Radio and Tomorrow's Warriors) now spearheading the changemaking projects that we're funding, such as No Signal and Ezra Collective. That’s the long-term impact of investing in grassroots music."

The 2020 Youth Music report, A Blueprint for the Future, highlighted issues that lead to a lack of equal representation in the music industry. It showed that people from lower income backgrounds are less likely to be earning money through music than their wealthier counterparts, and that men are almost twice as likely to want to become a sound engineer than women, due to perceptions about gendered roles.

Discussing equality within the industry, Femi Koleoso, bandleader and drummer of Ezra Collective, said: "The underrepresentation of Black women in the industry is something really close to our hearts, with six Black members of our team.
"Mentoring, community and role models are at the core of Ezra Collective, with all of us growing through Tomorrow's Warriors, who provided that for us and instilled those values in us. The plan is simple, 'each one teaches one', and we're channelling this through each member of the team training and mentoring young, Black women in behind the scenes music roles across live sound, tour management and management, with the ambition of supporting them into paid roles across the industry. Providing a safe place to make mistakes, resulting in a community which doesn’t just provide experience, but work too.
"Inclusivity and representation are at the heart of the band and our music. The funding means this exciting new project is possible."
Spike Griffiths, director and youth music Development Officer at Forté Project in South Wales, said: "The funding has provided a lifeline that will enable us to launch 'BEACONS', a new bilingual suite of online resources for young people to help them develop new skills, their confidence and self-esteem, and illuminate new opportunities within the live music sector of Wales. We'll be able to provide direct access to knowledge, mentorship and networks for young people looking to carve out careers in the music and creative industries. Since the pandemic has put a stop to a lot of our face-to-face work, we're really excited to offer valuable digital resources so we can reach and help more young people."
Also commenting on the funding, Becky Ayres, managing director at Sound City in Liverpool, added: "COVID-19 has been a huge wake up call to the inequalities in our society. As a live events business, we have had to innovate to navigate our way through the challenges posed by the pandemic. We believe that ensuring diversity across everything we do is key to this, and only by working with young people from a variety of backgrounds, circumstances and experiences can we truly be ready and relevant for the music industry's next phase.
"We are over the moon to work with Youth Music on the incubator fund and provide opportunities for young people to take their next steps and flourish in the music industry."

Over £7.2 million has been raised for Youth Music by players of People's Postcode Lottery.