Power Up organisers Ben Wynter and Yaw Owusu have spoken about their ambitions for the programme, as the first wave of 40 participants is revealed today (May 18).
As well as providing grants and industry-wide support, Power Up will address anti-Black racism and disparities in the music sector. It aims to break down barriers, accelerate change and influence policy within the industry.
The initiative led by PRS Foundation in partnership with labels, publishers, trade bodies and other organisations will support 20 music creators and 20 industry executives per year. The first participants are listed below and include music creators across a range of genres, as well as executives from all areas of the music business.
Music Week first reported on the bold plans for Power Up earlier this year, followed by interviews with co-founder Ben Wynter and Yaw Owusu, programme consultant. There were more than 500 applications for the first year of Power Up, which is designed to be a long-term programme for the next decade that will build a network of participants.
“It's been quite overwhelming,” Yaw Owusu told Music Week. “It's been amazing to see how many people [applied] – cross-generational, cross-genre and gender. All different groups of people have said, ‘Yes, this is for me’, and that’s telling in the diversity of the participants that we've selected. Yeah, it has been amazing.
“It’s great work that we're doing, but there's so much more work that needs to be done. With Power Up, we’re trying to be one of the leaders in this space, but it's no time to rest now. This is the first step, but Ben and Joe [Frankland, PRS Foundation CEO] plus the whole of the Power Up team and the partners are very ambitious.”
Music Week cover stars the Black Music Coalition are closely involved in Power Up. More than 80 Black music executives and creators have come together to contribute and guide Power Up, including the Executive Steering Committee and ambassadors such as DJ Target, Disturbing London founder Dumi Oburota, MC and actor Kano, artist Ray Blk, LinkUp TV Founder Rashid Kasirye and singer-songwriter Sabrina Washington.
The people that it's been created for have definitely embraced Power Up
Following the launch just over three months ago, Ben Wynter said he’s been pleased with the positive response to the campaign.
“It's been really well received,” he told Music Week. “The people that it's been created for have definitely embraced it – you can see that from the huge number of applicants that we've had. We’ve heard individual stories of people that were considering quitting the industry, who now feel like they have hope based on the fact that Power Up has happened. They have made a conscious decision to remain in the business.
“I always talk about the one guy that called me up to tell me he was actually on the brink of quitting. Power Up has given him hope, because throughout his career he had only been able to move laterally. For the first time, he actually believed that this would create a change that allows him to move vertically in his career. The reaction from the wider music community has been great. I think the majority of companies and organisations, they get it and they want to be a part of it because they don't necessarily know the solution, and recognise that Power Up is something that can help them to do that.”
Power Up was set up and managed by PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars Group and the Black Music Coalition. It brings together several music industry partners across all sectors to accelerate change. Supporters include AIM, the BPI, the FAC, Ivors Academy, the MMF, the MPA, MPG, the Musicians’ Union, PPL, PRS for Music and the PRS Members’ Fund.
Wynter promised another “big announcement soon” on an industry partner, and said that Power Up would “love to see the major labels get involved”.
The first year of Power Up attracted 512 applications from 363 music creators and 149 industry professionals at crucial career stages.
The long-term network of participants represents Black talent across the UK, with 38% of participants based outside London, including two in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland. 52% of participants are women or gender minorities and over a quarter are LGBTQ+.
Creative Scotland recently signing up to the initiative. “They've really tried to make sure that no Black talent feels disenfranchised in Scotland,” said Wynter.
The programme, specifically designed to fit the needs of the participants, will assist in the development of their careers to break through glass ceilings and accelerate change. This includes grant support of up to £15,000 alongside masterclasses, capacity building, mentoring, coaching, mental health and wellbeing support and access to support from Power Up partners and the peer network.
Across the 20 music creators chosen for the first year, genres covered include classical, R&B/soul, alternative, grime, world, rap, dance, singer-songwriter, jazz, rock, electronic and country.
“I think when you look at our participants, the beautiful thing is the diversity across genres,” said Wynter. “As Black people, we're often put in a box – ‘Okay, you do rap music or R&B.’ Similarly, there are executives there that have managed various different genres and, sadly, they've had to suffer extreme ordeals when just trying to do their day job, because there's not enough Black representation within that genre.
“So for us, it was really important to make sure that we are representative of Black people, as opposed to the stereotype of what Black people are and the stereotype of the music that Black people make within the industry. There's no reason why they shouldn't be able to work in those genres and without fear of being discriminated against, as many of them have been.”
The creators selected including emerging artists and more established names such as Nova Twins and Donae’O.
It’s great work that we're doing, but there's so much more work that needs to be done
“If it was just about perceived success, we probably wouldn't be here now because, again, that's where people had it wrong,” said Owusu. “People say, ‘Black people are doing all right, they’re in the charts’. But what about the trauma? What about the fact that they still feel like they're imposters in the music industry or creative industry. What about the harsh experiences of racism and not getting their due in terms of pay or opportunity? These things still exist for them.
“Nova Twins have been very outspoken about the barriers they face, and so the idea of being part of this network and this movement has been important. It was a big part of why the participants were selected; that they understood what this movement is about and they understood about the value of this network, so this definitely wasn't about money. This was about empowering them, and what they're doing, so we can help contribute to their sustainability and success but also to the industry [as a whole].”
“It’s important to understand that the support isn't just about finance,” agreed Wynter. “It is very much holistic support, and Yaw’s done an amazing job putting the programme together to ensure that it covers everything including mental wellbeing, because of the trauma that people have faced.
“Many years ago, I managed a rock band and, on many occasions, I was asked why I was at the venue and dismissed as being a manager, because I was a Black guy at a rock event. Power Up is about the network and how we can engage each other and work together to move forward.”
Wynter explained why it was important for Power Up to cover as many areas of the industry as possible in its first year.
“Any Black person in the UK music industry working behind the scenes has come up against systemic institutional racism,” he said. “I made the point that if we're going to support creators, we have to support those that are behind the scenes too, because you can't fix a problem if we're only dealing with one half of the problem.”
POWER UP 2021 PARTICIPANT NETWORK
- Abel Selaocoe (Classical)
- Amahla (R&B/Soul)
- Anaiis (Alternative / Indie)
- Daniel Kidane (Classical)
- Dapz On The Map (Grime)
- Donae'O (World / Diaspora)
- Ego Ella May (R&B/Soul)
- Gaika (Grime)
- Gramn. (R&B/Soul)
- Kasien (Hip-Hop / Rap)
- KG (aka Karen Nyame KG) (Dance)
- Kyan (Singer-Songwriter)
- Lady Sanity (Hip-Hop / Rap)
- MckNasty (Jazz)
- Nova Twins (Rock)
- Rebecca Garton (R&B / Soul)
- Simeon Hammond Dallas (Country)
- Sola (Alternative / Indie)
- Taahliah (Electronic)
- Yizzy (Grime)
Industry Professionals and Execs:
- Adem Holness, Music Curator, Horniman Museum
- Christine Osazuwa, Director of Data & Insights - Global Marketing, Warner Music Group
- Des Agyekumhene, Artist Manager/ NFT Consultant, Soga Doctoral Researcher (Part-Time), University of Edinburgh, Manager / NFT Consultant, Loving Alliance ManagementPop
- Despa Robinson, Founder BE83 Ltd
- Eric Hunter, Music Publishing Coordinator, Sky (Music Team)
- Errol Anderson, Founder Touching Base
- Eunice Obianagha, Independent Event and Project Management Director, ENSPIRE Management
- Hannah Shogbola, Senior agent, UTA/founder, Daju
- Heather Nelson, Chief Executive Officer/Black Music Festival & The Legacy Awards
- Jennifer John, Creative Director, Music Manager, Vocal Coach, Music Mentor at Jennifer John Music
- Kwame Daniels, Founder & CEO , Bounce CultureWorld
- Laura Lewis-Paul, Founder and Creative Director, Saffron Records
- Lekan Latinwo, Artist Manager - Intricate Management
- Loretta Andrews, Artist Manager/Founder of Safe Music Management
- Mohamed Ogleh, Artist Manager, 2-Tone Entertainment
- Nick Eziefula, Partner Simkins LLP
- Ree Sewell, Engineer Manager & Studio Coordinator, Metropolis Studios
- Sami Omar, CEO/ Producer/ Artist manager, Up 2 Standard
- Sarah Shodipe, Freelance Music Journalist/Founder of Alt Access/PA Assistant, Dawbell
- Selina Wedderburn, Operations Manager, Your Army, Co-Founder/Director, Tempo & Flow, Co-Founder/Director, Plan A Group
POWER UP REACTION
"Power Up has given me the opportunity to be supported by other people in the industry who will better understand the issues I have faced as a Black man in the music business. This has inspired and empowered me to lend my support to the next wave of artists coming through. I also hope, with the help of the Power Up Mentoring scheme, I can make a meaningful impact of the careers of others."
Power Up music creator participant Donae’O
"Thank you PRS Foundation for our place on the Power Up participant programme! We really appreciate you supporting us and independent artists like ourselves. The grant is going to be crucial for the next steps of recording our new album. Also, we cannot wait to meet everyone in the Power Up network! We encourage bands looking for support to apply to these opportunities, as they’re mega helpful and have been a necessity in keeping our careers moving forwards."
“I am so excited to be a part of such a ground-breaking initiative. The Power Up programme is evidence of the real change many of us have hoped to see.”
Industry professional Power Up participant and artist manager/founder, Safe Music Management, Loretta Andrews
“Power Up has empowered me to believe in progression - Competence not confidence! - I am SO excited to work creatively and positively through all projects, with a key focus on inclusion.”
Industry professional Power Up participant and founder, Daju/agent, UTA, Hannah Shogbola
“Congratulations to all 40 Participants selected to be part of this first year of Power Up. We’re delighted to offer holistic support to elevate all participants and we’re excited to see the network becoming a base of knowledge exchange, peer support and collaboration from today onwards. I would like to thank our partners, YouTube Music, Beggars Group and the Black Music Coalition as well as Creative Scotland and all the music industry organisations that are supporting Power Up in so many ways. With so many applicants highlighting the severity of anti-Black racism in music in 2021, the whole sector must come together to make meaningful change at all levels. With wide-reaching action, I truly believe our Participants will be at the forefront of a fairer, more equitable music industry.”
CEO of PRS Foundation Joe Frankland
"Power Up is testament to what can be achieved when we all come together to stand for what we believe in. That there were over 500 applications speaks volumes about the abundance of creative talent we have in the UK, and it's a pleasure and privilege for YouTube Music to help break down barriers and bring about real change in the industry."
Sheniece Charway, artist relations manager at YouTube Music
“The exceptional standard of the applications we received for this the first year of the programme proved to us once again that lack of talent is NEVER the reason that Black music creatives and professionals do not reach their full potential in the UK music industry; the Power Up programme is a brilliant and bold example of the sort of action the BMC believes is necessary to redress some of reasons their careers can and do stall… to be able to support and literally power up the career of the 40 selected Black music creatives and professionals, to create a network for them in which they can thrive, develop, and grow, is extremely exciting to us and we’re already looking forward to their future successes!”
Sheryl Nwosu, lawyer and chair of the Black Music Coalition
“The team at Power Up have put an incredible amount of time and effort into the selection process to get to this stage. Congratulations to all the successful applicants and I look forward to contributing to the network in any way I can and being active in this programme, not just with this cohort but I hope the many cohorts in the future.”
Beggars Group CEO, Paul Redding
"The Scottish music sector is overflowing with talent on and off the stage but what makes someone artistically distinctive is often what pushes them to the edges of the industry. We know there are many barriers to building a career in music in Scotland and so, together with our peers, we are working to address the lack of diversity and positively support career progression. Partnering with the PRS Foundation on the Power Up programme will help open doors for Black music creators and industry professionals in Scotland, leading to better representation and visibility. The Scottish sector is already richer due to Taahliah and Sami’s achievements, but Power Up will place their work – and Scottish music in all of its diversity – in a brighter spotlight.”
Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland