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Spotlight on Youth Music and their Incubator Fund

Every month, we feature an organisation or project that the Youth Music Initiative (YMI) supports, and that works with one of their priority groups of young people. These features give a space for organisation staff and participants to tell us their stories.

This month we hear all about Youth Music and their Incubator Fund.


A black and white image of two people sitting in front of a radio microphone. One is wearing sunglasses, and the other is further behind him and wears a hat.

Back in January, before the world was turned upside down, Youth Music began a process of consultation with 1,300 young creatives and around 100 music industry professionals, to get a better understanding of the barriers preventing under 25s from building a career in music.

The result?

Our Blueprint for the Future report – a vision for change and call to action for the music industries to become a more equitable and supportive place to nurture young, emerging talent.

The report outlines specific barriers young people face not only getting a foot in the door, but also retaining jobs, and demonstrates that some young people are clearly feeling the weight of those barriers more sharply than others. Unsurprisingly, social class was the greatest setback, with young people from lower income backgrounds being significantly less likely to gain a foothold in the industry and earn any money from music making, regardless of their level of education.

Compounding this, those from low socioeconomic backgrounds were more than twice as likely to be unaware of any funding available to them, and significantly less likely to access networking and mentoring opportunities.

This evidence, coupled with support from People’s Postcode Lottery has enabled us to launch a new £2million Incubator Fund, developed to support music industry businesses – particularly micro-businesses and SMEs – to broaden their talent pool and diversify their workforce.

In the first round of funding, 31 organisations across England, Scotland and Wales were awarded up to £30,000 to improve access to sustainable, creative careers for young people. What that looks like in practice, is young people being paid – at least the Living Wage – for jobs and internships, and to take the lead in delivering creative projects.

Generator NE are a Talent Development Agency based in Newcastle, using their Incubator Fund grant to develop “Create:Live” a programme aimed at supporting independent promotors. “It’s been a long time coming” said a member of their Youth Advisory board, “Too long have a small handful of people held the key to so many venues in the North East, it's about time we diversify and expand that handful”.

We know there’s a huge appetite to expand the music industry infrastructure across Scotland, and Youth Music’s Incubator Fund could support some of this growth. We’re specifically encouraging applications from Scottish music industry organisations who, with Youth Music funding could nurture the country’s next generation of promotors, producers, managers, and labels.

Equity is key here; projects should be delivered and designed in collaboration with local young people and will be partly assessed by a panel of under 25s.

As we rebuild in 2021 and look to create real change within the UK’s wider music industries we have a clear opportunity to harness the fresh thinking, creativity and entrepreneurialism of diverse young talent. We’re excited to already be supporting 31 creative businesses to collaborate with a new generation and respond to the challenges of 2020, if you are interested in joining them we’d love to talk to you.

Read more about Youth Music's Incubator Fund.

The deadline for the next funding round is 5 February 2021.

For enquiries, or to discuss ideas and applications in more detail, contact Louise.henry@youthmusic.org.uk

This article was published on 07 Dec 2020