New Yorkshire: AIM and Tileyard North join forces on levelling up for music sector

New Yorkshire: AIM and Tileyard North join forces on levelling up for music sector

Industry figures from the Association of Independent Music (AIM) and Tileyard North in Wakefield have spoken about the “amazing opportunity” to develop the independent sector in the Yorkshire region.

Following the launch of their collaboration earlier this year, AIM will have a dedicated space at Tileyard North, sister organisation to the Tileyard London creative hub in the capital. 

“It was a real opportunity for AIM to expand from being a London-based organisation and to set up some roots in the North of England,” said Ben Wynter, AIM’s director of business development & partnerships.

Wynter divides his time between London and Wakefield, as he drives the organisation’s initiatives in the regions. 

“It was about us doubling down on our commitment to serve and contribute to the regions outside of London,” explained Wynter. “We’re trying to facilitate strong ecosystems and foster growth within the sector in different regions, which means that creative and executive talent isn’t lost to London.”

Tileyard North opened a year ago with ambitions to be the largest creative community outside of London. It is already home to music composers, producers, independent labels, TV and film production companies, gaming studios and podcasting firms. Phase two of the construction project will see further creative workspaces created alongside a boutique hotel. 

Tileyard North recently hosted a UK country festival in the courtyard featuring Twinnie and Kezia Gill, among others. The development has performance spaces for ticketed events.

“We’ve got ambitious plans to become a recognised events destination,” said Nick Keynes, co-founder of Tileyard North.

Amid the ongoing levelling-up agenda from politicians, Tileyard North is part of a wave of activity in Yorkshire, including EMI North in Leeds, the planned BRIT School North in Bradford and the development of the Production Park concert rehearsal space and creative facility in South Kirkby. 

“We want to appeal to a slightly different audience [than Tileyard London],” said Keynes. “There’s a lot more incubation that we’re doing in Wakefield, and also bringing in projects from outside of the region into Wakefield. The credibility of a partner like AIM is really helpful.”

Dance label Armada recently staged a writing camp at Tileyard North with producers from the region.

“A year on, it’s looking really positive,” said Emma Stakes, head of creative & community at Tileyard North. “We’ve been hosting loads of writing camps, including some from London who wanted to do them outside the capital.”

It’s not North versus South – it’s about collaborating and making the ecosystem thrive in the North as well

Emma Stakes

Stakes wants the Tileyard development to draw some star names as clients to help accelerate the creative impact.

“I’d love a Yungblud and a Bring Me The Horizon – people that are from here that have already smashed it,” she said.

A vocalist and songwriter, Stakes has worked in A&R and previously held roles at Sony Music and Syco. 

“When it was announced that Tileyard was coming, I wanted to scream and shout about it,” said Stakes. “My excitement is really for the emerging talent and that we’re starting to level up for our country.”

“It felt like an amazing opportunity,” said Wynter of their subsequent collaboration. “I’ve known Emma for years, she’s such a brilliant and forward-thinking woman who really knows the scene in Yorkshire. It was just a no-brainer.”

One of the first big AIM initiatives was a roundtable that drew dozens of industry stakeholders from the region, including EMI North, Come Play With Me and Production Park, as well as artists, writers and producers. 

AIM’s interim CEO Gee Davy spoke at the event, which provided the chance to network and start to identify the support needed to help develop the sector in the region. 

“There’s already an ecosystem, we just want to amplify it,” said Wynter. “Ultimately, more members in Yorkshire is something that we want for AIM because that means we can help grow the independent sector. We want to see these communities thrive.”

Emma Stakes

“It’s not North versus South – it’s about collaborating and making the ecosystem thrive in the North as well,” said Stakes. “EMI have set up home in Leeds, there’s talk of other majors setting up their own Northern entities. It’s going to make some people stay more true to their roots in this industry.”

Wynter suggested that AIM’s initiatives in the regions are about helping bring about practical solutions for the sector.

“If everybody says that what we need is more industry to come to Wakefield, well, AIM has a partnership with Meta and Amazon Music, so let’s facilitate that,” he said. “If one of the barriers is access to industry, whether it’s tech companies, PPL, PRS, creative companies, whatever it is, we will facilitate that.”

Stakes confirmed that various collaborations have since developed as a result of the roundtable. As the AIM partnership develops, she now wants to see commercial results.

“We don’t want to just keep meeting up to talk about problems,” she told Music Week. “I’d like to see more success that we can shout about because of these collaborations.”

Ultimately, the initiative is part of a wider plan for the sector.

“The vision that we have at AIM is a network of ambassadors that represent each region,” concluded Wynter. “A year from now, I’d like to see ambassadors in every region working together to bring cross-collaboration and economic development into each other’s region.”


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