UK Music’s Futures Group has had its say on the biggest issues facing the music industry in 2021.
Established in 2016, The Futures Group was conceived to give a platform to the next generation of leaders across all areas of the business, from labels, publishers, live agents and managers, to publicists, lawyers, producers, artists and songwriters.
The Group is chaired by manager Amanda Maxwell, supported by UK Music’s Rachel Bolland.
Below, Music Week presents a Q&A session with members of the Futures Group, as they discuss 2020 and look ahead to 2021.
Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our industry with many talented people falling through the cracks. How do you feel about the industry’s and Government’s response?
Lauren Down, managing director, End of The Road: “The music industry is full of creative and resilient people. However, without more Government support, huge swathes of it will fall by the wayside, particularly those in live events with seasonal businesses. The music festival sector generates an estimated £1.75 billion GVA for the UK, much of it spent along the supply chain in local economies, and supports 85,000 jobs. The Government is not doing enough because they don’t understand or value our world-leading industry the way they should.”
Covid-19 imposed restrictions on the way we work. What surprising innovations came out of that time which you hope to carry forward?
Maddy Radcliff, campaigns & social media official, The Musicians’ Union: “Musicians are some of the most creative, innovative and resilient people out there. But it’s not just about what the musicians can do. It’s also about audience access too – and for those who supplement their income with things like teaching. A big challenge is whether or not students can continue lessons and have the appropriate tools.”
Remote working opens up opportunities for those who can't afford to take a low-paid internship and pay London rent
Meenal Odedra, The Music Assisstant
What do you think will be different for the next generation of young people entering the industry?
Meenal Odedra, founder, The Music Assistant: “As a British Indian, working class woman from a little village in the Midlands, I had zero ties to the industry. So, it was super tough to find my feet. I think, and I hope that for the younger Meenals who are entering the industry, it’s a little kinder and more accessible. With more remote working, it opens up opportunities for those who couldn’t afford to take a low-paid internship and pay London rent too. We have also seen shifts with an emphasis on well-being and mental health.”
Leah Mack, creative licensing manager, Sony/ATV Music Publishing: “Building contacts is key to gaining the first opportunities for experience within the music industry. In a post-Covid world where access to industry events and the important informal introductions these encourage may be less accessible, pipeline talent need access in new ways. Digital introductions, virtual events, and mentorship opportunities may become even more crucial to ensure younger professionals are best equipped to succeed in the industry.”
In light of this year’s Black Lives Matter protests, how have you seen the industry change over the last six months and what have been some stand out moments from our industry?
Amanda Maxwell, artist manager and chair of UK Music Futures Group: “As a young Jamaican, Nigerian and British woman it has been incredible to have and to witness a whole industry recognise, acknowledge and hold its hands up and say: 'You’re right - what we can do to change or be better'. Collectively as an industry, I’ve been most encouraged by the undertaking of those sat at the top looking at their board rooms, their management levels, their support systems internally and then looking at what they can be doing externally to help change the echo chambers. It’s now about making positive and long-lasting change supporting, amplifying, promoting, educating and removing ideologies that no longer serve the modern world we live in. I am excited for what is to come and can only keep encouraging my peers and mentors to do the same. We must be the change.”
The industry is becoming more diverse
What has been your experience with mental well-being in the music industry and what more do you think could be done?
Frank Hamilton, singer-songwriter: “I get to make records and play shows so I’m very lucky, but the industry can be brutal sometimes. I’d love to see a change in culture, maybe even a simple code of conduct.
What has been your experience in the industry with regarding your gender, race, sexuality or disability and what more do you think could be done to make it a more inclusive industry?
Yasmin Lajoie, music manager & freelance consultant: “As a queer brown disabled woman, I’ve often found it hard to fit in, but the industry is becoming more diverse. Initiatives and programmes that foster inclusivity are so important. The UK Music Futures Group is one place I really feel a sense of community and belonging.”
What’s been your experience of mentorship, do you think it helps to progress careers?
Holly Manners, A&R, Warner Records: “The value of good mentorship cannot be overstated. Whether that relationship is formal or informal, it provides a much-needed safe-space for learning and development. This can benefit both mentor and mentee equally and is essential to the attraction and retention of diverse talent. I have never had a formal mentor, and this inspired me to create She.grows, a programme which has now helped over 150 women across the business. Look out for inspirational new initiatives in this space from She Is The Music and Girls I Rate.
Preye Crooks, A&R manager, Columbia Records: “I know I am personally very thankful for the mentors that have guided me through my career and continue to do so today. Working in A&R and across festivals, there aren’t necessarily books you can study or exams you can take to facilitate your entry into or growth through the industry, so I believe mentoring, coaching and sharing experiences with others becomes a vital tool when progressing careers. It has certainly helped me, and I’m delighted to see it being taken so seriously within the UK Music Futures Group, and across my jobs too.”
It’s important to be able to see leaders ahead of you that you can identify with
Jamie Ahye, Atlantic Records
As a young executive in the industry, how do you feel about discussions around the diversity of boards and how do you feel this affects you?
Jamie Ahye, senior marketing manager, Atlantic Records: “Throughout life it’s important to be able to see leaders ahead of you that you can identify with. Traditionally the music industry has been led by those with very similar lived experiences, a diversification of this to better represent the wider population and the artists we work with is essential to continue attracting talent from across a multitude of backgrounds. The leaders of tomorrow will become role models for young people looking at the industry and wondering where they could fit.”
Are you worried about what the impact of Brexit will be on the industry and can you see any benefits?
Brett Cox, producer & engineer: “There are obviously many economic concerns and other worries like copyright and the barriers it could present to mid-level artists being able to tour/work in Europe. UK Music have been doing great work ensuring the government is aware of these factors. One of my biggest fears is not how affected our output will be, but losing what we receive from the melting pot of creativity we are lucky to be a part of as a member of the EU. Artists from all over Europe come here to work and live with us, bringing diverse influences and new approaches to music making and art that we collectively benefit from. I hope that we will be able to incentivise tours coming to our small island by increasing our respect for the artists and making the UK a nicer place to perform in.”
What is something you wished you’d known about the industry before you started and how can young people coming into the industry prepare?
Roxanne de Bastion, singer-songwriter: “I wish I would have known the importance of peer-to-peer networking. The most important relationships I have as an artist are those with my fans and other artists who can relate to my experience. There’s nothing quite as powerful as exchanging knowledge and experience to better the landscape for all of us. Young people coming into the industry now have loads of free resources and organisations and communities they can join.”
What has been helpful about joining a group such as the UK Music Futures Group?
Cam Blackwood, record producer and songwriter: “Moving to London from a village in Scotland, it took me quite a long time to find a way into the industry as I didn’t have any connections. I joined because I’m passionate in trying to make sure everyone in the UK has the opportunity to join our magic gang, not just the privileged. I have met so many wonderful, dynamic people from areas of the industry I didn’t know much about.”
Nick Breen, entertainment and media lawyer, Reed Smith: “Joining the group has been a great opportunity to meet like-minded people from the industry and to keep up-to-date with the issues that the industry is facing. It has been fantastic to hear the perspective of people who work across the industry, from artists to labels, publishers, promoters, and everyone in between. It gives us all an invaluable holistic insight across the different sub-sectors.”
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