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Doing more for young music-makers

I’m always impressed with the way those in the live music business quickly turn an empty field or a lifeless auditorium into a packed, thumping concert or festival within such a short space of time.

Against incredibly tight deadlines, you pull your gigs together and give your artists the best live experience they could possibly have. What you achieve day in, day out, and the support you give your artists (and audiences), is truly awesome.

But sadly, for many young people interested in making music, there’s precious little support. Even getting started has its challenges.

Some young people grow up comfortably, with supportive families and enough money to get by. Chances are if these young people want to make music, they’ll be able to. Unfortunately, many children face challenges in their lives. Whether through background or circumstances, their problems are often complicated. Music is one of the many things they miss out on.

Like me, I’m sure you’ll feel this is both sad and unjust.

Here at Youth Music we believe everyone should have the chance to make music. The 75,000 young people we help every year experience many different challenges, including poverty, disability, mental health issues, or living in care. We know that those facing difficulties are often the ones who get the most out of music making.

We support around 350 music projects to deliver practical, creative music making of every possible style and technique, with activities including songwriting, music production and performance. Projects include the Amies Freedom Choir in London, which supports young women who’ve been trafficked into the UK; and the Songbirds project for seriously ill children at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.

Equality and diversity may be buzzwords on the arts agenda this year but they’ve always been at the heart of our work. Since Youth Music was founded in 1999, we’ve put our best efforts into creating a musically inclusive society where gender, ethnic background and personal or family circumstances are no barrier to pursuing your dreams. We’ve helped over two million children and young people develop personally, socially and musically in that time. But we know there’s more to do.

There’s a huge demand for our work, and, right now, we can only support around a third of the projects needing our help

There’s a huge demand for our work, and, right now, we can only support around a third of the projects needing our help.

That’s why we launched our fundraising initiative – Give a Gig – as a way for artists, bands, promoters, agents and venues to ‘give something back’ and help vulnerable young people through fundraising at live music events.

We’ve recently finished our inaugural Give a Gig Week, with the initial aim of having 100 live gigs take place across the country. I’m glad to say we smashed that target, with a total of 336 acts performing in 118 gigs across the country from 24–31 March. And thousands of miles away, legendary DJ and producer Paul Oakenfold supported us with a club night in Singapore!

You can check out #GiveaGigWeek on Storify, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see what’s been going on around the country.

We already have some wonderful bands and musicians supporting us but we’d like to encourage all of you working in the live music industry to join us in our mission to break down barriers to music making. Several managers and promoters have kindly encouraged their artists to put on gigs for us. Whatever your role in the music business, there’ll be a way you can support Youth Music – from simply putting a collection bucket on the door to staging a special gig for us. If you’re already running a live music event or working with an artist that has a tour booked, you could add a Youth Music element by making a donation from the gig proceeds or, for example, asking those on your VIP list to contribute. Creating ‘money can’t buy’ experiences and raising funds through exciting competitions for fans is another great way of supporting Give a Gig.

The music industry has a long history of generous charitable giving. The great thing about Give a Gig is that it’s a musical fundraiser for a musical cause. Youth Music provides opportunities and support so that young people can progress on their musical journeys, whatever they choose to do next in life. Many of these young people go on to work in the live music industry: Laura Mvula, Rizzle Kicks, Elf Kid and Let’s Eat Grandma all started out at Youth Music projects.

If you like the idea of giving something back, we’d love you to come on-board with Give a Gig. Your efforts will help others to make their mark on the music scene in the way that you have. And your live events will be generating funds to put back into young people’s music making. How cool is that?


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