Warner Chappell Music CEO and co-chair Guy Moot has backed award-winning charity The Music Works to serve as a blueprint for ushering in the next generation of music business talent.
Gloucester-based The Music Works delivers one-to-one music mentoring, small group work, accredited training, apprenticeships and internships, festivals and events, artist and career development in Moot’s home county, helping disadvantaged and underrepresented young people access the industry.
Last week, the organisation hosted a roundtable discussion with Moot as part of an industry networking lunch with Warner Chappell. Moot met with young people to shed light on how to break down some of the barriers to access. Three young musicians – Immi Dash, Nat Oaks and Vincent Darby, all of whom have benefited from The Music Works programmes – performed on the day.
“By having Guy and the Warner Chappell team involved, we've been able to demystify the industry,” creative director Malaki Patterson told Music Week. “This is not an overnight relationship. We've been talking to Guy for nearly over a year now and it’s changed the culture of the city and the county. For young people to see that you can come from a rural place like Gloucestershire and still get to top of the industry is incredible.”
The Music Works, which won the Association Of Youth Offending’s Award for best delivery programme in the UK and became a PRS talent development partner, guides 2,500 young people aged 8-30 on a regular basis and a further 2,000 through its events programme.
“An organisation like ours can reach the community,” added Patterson. “We can break down barriers, we can bring through young people who are facing those barriers and then we can connect with industry and make that pipeline clearer.”
Here, in an exclusive Q&A, Guy Moot speaks to Music Week about the talent pipeline, his advice for emerging acts and why location should be no barrier to success…
Why is it important that Warner Chappell Music helps out organisations like The Music Works?
“Coming from Gloucestershire, I know I was exceptionally lucky to find my path. Gloucestershire is a place where you're near to a lot of places, but not close to anything. When I was young, I had to drive to see shows in Birmingham, Warwick or Bristol. If you live in Gloucestershire, there aren't so many studios and producers to go and get advice, get a co-write and find somebody who might help define your sound and your songwriting. So it's important on a personal level and a company level that we make people aware there are opportunities, education and facilities available to make that journey a lot easier. It should be a lot easier, and it's absolutely amazing what Malaki, Deborah [Potts, CEO] and the team at Music Works have done to build such a facility.”
Can Music Works foster new creative talent for you to work with?
“Absolutely. There is a lot of talent to be discovered in Gloucestershire, but not just artists and songwriters; we're spreading the word that this is a business with jobs. So many of the young people we spoke to didn't know about this array of options to be employed in the wider music industry. We had some robust conversations about how the industry has to be better at explaining what the opportunities are from a careers point of view: from studio engineer, to assistant, to royalties and finance, to being a promoter.”
It's not all about being the biggest star, you can monetise your music in other ways
What are your views on the talent pipeline into the business in general? Is there enough opportunity for people from all backgrounds?
“No, of course there has got to be improvement and it's how you communicate with those people. Again, I don't think we're doing that well at presenting what career options there are both inside the industry, but also from an artist/creator point of view – it's not all about being the biggest star, you can monetise your music in other ways.”
What aspect of the discussion do you feel is not being talked about enough?
“We talk about it a lot, but I'm not sure we're talking in the right places. We should be talking in the communities. We should be talking in education establishments. Not everybody can get into higher education so again, Music Works can really help. It is that focal point. People shouldn't have to move to London to be educated, meet like-minded people and get mentorship.”
How does Warner Chappell Music want to help foster new talent?
“We constantly want to invest in new talent, but it doesn't have to happen overnight. With publishing being the inception of the process – without the song, you don't have anything – it puts us in a unique position to nurture and develop talent. We want to help people develop a body of work and develop themselves as artists.”
Will you be signing any of the acts?
“I'm not going negotiate deals on a Teams call! But I thought there was real talent there, for sure. The standard was incredibly high and we’ll most probably bring some of them up to co-write and nurture those skills. Talent can come from anywhere and I'd be very proud to see it coming out of Gloucestershire. Malaki and Deborah don't take the praise so easily, but it's incredible what they've achieved.”
It's about nurturing, developing people and looking at a new economy for songwriters
What is is about the the culture at Warner Chappell that makes it a good home for new talent?
“We’re not as big as some of the other companies, so we've deliberately tried to sign artists who are creatively and culturally meaningful and develop them. We look at it through the lens of a new songwriter economy: you don’t have to have a hit immediately, there are other ways we can develop your career, so take your time. It's about nurturing, developing people and looking at a new economy for songwriters.”
What advice would you give to young people who are aspiring to work for, or with, WCM?
“Sometimes the music industry can look somewhat like a walled city. But once you're in it, you realise it’s really not that complicated. We're looking to meet people and we’re always looking to find new talent, so reach out. But the work that Music Works is doing is absolutely a blueprint for where people can come together, get advice, work with other producers and meet like-minded people. And hopefully be also then the touch point where the industry can meet these people, an explain to them what they're looking for and what they need. I don't know anybody in this industry, honestly, who isn't prepared to give their time and offer support and advice.”
Can you give examples of people coming out of a place like The Music Works and going on to make it big as an executive or a creative?
“There are lots of stories – artists, executives, promoters, you name it – but the story is [always] that it wasn't that easy and it should have been easier. And most of them didn't know they could be an executive in the industry so, again, there’s that disconnect. It would be great to come back in two or three years’ time having had more success stories, because we want to build something sustainable. Not in the sense that it has to be paying for itself, but in giving back to the local community. I’d encourage anybody else who feels inclined, whether they're from Gloucestershire or not, to give some time if they think they can impart knowledge or expertise to The Music Works. I found it to be a very impressive audience who wanted to listen and learn, so I'd say to anybody to give your time and get down there; it's very rewarding.”