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Youth Music launches new music careers report and £2 million incubator fund

By | Published on Tuesday 7 July 2020

Youth Music

Music charity Youth Music has launched a new report looking at the challenges faced by young people pursuing a career in music, and has announced a new £2 million fund that will encourage music companies and organisations to support and nurture new music industry talent.

Called ‘A Blueprint For The Future’, the report looks at the impact gender, class, ethnicity and geographical location have on young people who are trying to pursue a career in the music industry. It concludes that different groups are disadvantaged in different ways, with access – or not – to networking opportunities, mentors and paid internships often key factors that impact on whether or not a music career is viable. Proximity to London is also, perhaps unsurprisingly, a factor too.

Youth Music argues that with everything in flux at the moment as a result of COVID-19 – and with the recent #TheShowMusicBePaused campaign putting the spotlight on how common music industry practices disadvantage certain groups – there is an opportunity for music employers to put new policies and initiatives in place that ensure the sector doesn’t lose talented executives and entrepreneurs as a result of the extra hurdles that some people must cross because of their gender, class, ethnicity or location.

To help with that process, the charity’s new £2 million Incubator Fund, enabled by the People’s Postcode Lottery, will offer grants of up to £30,000 to “forward-thinking music industry employers to support the careers of people aged eighteen to 25”. Crucially, whereas most music industry funding schemes focus on music-makers themselves, this scheme seeks to support music industry talent, ie the people who will help future music-makers build a fanbase and business around their music-making.

Youth Music CEO Matt Griffiths says: “The existing music industry model is broken and there’s a new one up for grabs. We must use the upheaval and challenges of 2020 as a springboard to hit reset on the music industry and fling open the doors. There’s never been a better time to map and follow a blueprint for the future and prioritise what’s truly important”.

Among the specific recommendations the charity’s report makes is that music employers review and overhaul recruitment policies to promote diversity and inclusion; that entry-level roles be reformed to ensure more meaningful experiences; that unpaid internships be ended once and for all and that music companies ensure junior staff are paid at least the living wage; and that employers seek to build stronger long term relationships with the music education sector and grassroots music projects.

Griffiths goes on: “For more than two decades, Youth Music has invested in music education projects nationwide supporting the next generation of young musicians. But time and time again we’ve witnessed a stifling of young talent as career aspirations are cut short by unnecessary barriers and discrimination”.

“Music has always been a force for inclusion and revolution, helping us imagine a better future”, he adds. “This seminal moment presents us with a real opportunity to not only reflect but to act. We know there’s a deep desire for transformation across the grassroots of the music industries. By working together, individually and collectively, we can create the change that’s being loudly called for”.

You can download the new report here.