Young people would rather start their own projects than join the traditional music industry, says survey

The UK national charity, Youth Music, which supports under 25s in establishing careers in music, has launched the Youth NextGen Fund to help young music creatives realise their ideas

Three young creatives from the Youth Music NextGen community. L-R Martha Bryant, Nelson Navarro, Kate Whitaker. Photo © Bethan McConnell, Youth Music NextGen

Supported by TikTok For Good in Europe, the new fund has been launched in response to research carried out by Youth Music which showed that over three quarters of young people interested in careers in music would rather set up their own operations than join the traditional music industry.

Despite the low morale of many music professionals through the pandemic and Brexit, 63 percent of those looking at careers in music thought lockdown had a positive effect, thanks to remote working and learning opportunities. Over half felt the music industry was becoming more inclusive. Yet a third of the 1000-plus young people surveyed said that lack of finance was the biggest barrier to getting started, and those from the least advantaged socio-economic backgrounds felt they were more likely to suffer a negative impact on their career chances because of the pandemic.

Find out more about the NextGen fund

Elijah, the Project Lead on the Youth NextGen Fund, said, ‘We want to give young people the confidence to make it happen for themselves. This generation is building a fairer new industry, taking ownership of their work and imagining roles that don’t even exist yet. But they don’t have the financial means to realise their ambitions.

‘We want to rebuild an industry where every young person can see themselves contribute and make a difference. This fund is a big step towards and more sustainable, inclusive and exciting music industry.’

Grants of up to £2,500 are available to 18-25-year-old professionals, artists and entrepreneurs, and up to 30-years-of-age for those registered as disabled. The money will go to help those working in music to help launch a project or business with a publicly accessible outcome. This could include producing and releasing a recording, starting a record label or supporting platforms that promote under-represented voices and ideas.

NextGen collaborator, vocalist, songwriter, DJ and engineer Nelson Navarro explained the current preference for self-determination in music that showed in the survey. ‘I love having complete creative control,’ he said. ‘It’s a burden, but it’s why I’ve been carving out my own lane into the music industry. So many people of my generation appreciate the freedom of choosing who you work with, what your role is and what you get to work on.

‘It can be tricky financially to begin down this path. I’ve been lucky and grateful to have contacts put me forward for opportunities and even then, applying for grants was a daunting and demanding process that required serious writing and organisational skills! Teaching myself to DJ and engineer using YouTube was just for fun when I was learning. Nowadays, that’s how I make money to finance my creative projects. Stay resourceful and use what you love doing to your advantage.’

Matthew Harris, Head of CSR & TikTok For Good in Europe, says, ‘It’s been a difficult year for many in music and as a partner to the industry, we want to help those starting out to take their careers to the next level.

‘There is an entire generation of untapped diverse creative talent across the music industry in the UK. We see it every day on TikTok – brilliant creators and musicians sparking new trends and bringing together video and music. We are wholeheartedly committed to providing a platform for creative expression where talented individuals are given the opportunity to flourish, and we can’t wait to work more closely with Youth Music to help make that a reality for young people across the UK.’


Youth Music will be holding a series of workshops in the coming weeks to help young people make the most of the fund and opportunities in music:

  • Tuesday 8 June – Introduction to Youth Music NextGen with Elijah & Domenica
  • Tuesday 15 June – How to get paid: an introduction to PRS for Music
  • Tuesday 22 June – Hooversound Recordings: Starting a record label during a pandemic with Naina
  • Tuesday 29 June – Becoming self sufficient as a creative with Andy Musgrave (Founder of Supernature and Manager of AJ Tracey)
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