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Get to know Elijah, Project Lead Youth Music NextGen Fund

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Elijah, Project Lead of the Youth Music NextGen fund, shares his thoughts on being a creative today and the difference the NextGen fund can make.

Elijah, tell us a bit about your background

I was born and bred in East London and my musical roots are based in London Pirate Radio culture. I got involved in Grime first as a writer, then as a DJ, then eventually co-founded a label and events company called Butterz when I finished University. Butterz allowed me to travel the world as a DJ, make records with great artists and manage artists projects from the creation, to marketing and roll out of the music. I’ve worn many hats, but actually never formally worked for any music company. Everything I’ve learned from experience and having some great mentors.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities out there for emerging creatives at the moment?

The industry landscape is rapidly changing and today creative skills are seen as more and more necessary across most fields. There’s a massive opportunity for young people to start creating music, start ventures and learn skills for the new world we are heading into.

Historically young artists haven’t had much power in the music industry due to a lack of transparency, complicated deals and barriers to entry in terms of building a large audience.

It has also been difficult for people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds to participate, whether that’s through a lack of finance (internships have often been unpaid), living outside of London where most of the industry focuses, and through discrimination of all kinds.

These barriers are still very real, but now is an easier time than ever to build an audience outside of traditional structures. The Youth Music NextGen fund aims to be a first step in supporting young people to design their own careers.

Has the pandemic affected you or emerging creatives in any unexpected ways?  

For some young people I've spoken to, it's been a time to learn new things, start new projects and build routines that are advancing their career that might have taken years to do previously.

More people have been able to spend time exploring their creativity, and the NextGen Fund can help break the financial barrier needed for people to share their work at the next level.

crowd of people at a gig

Why is the fund needed and how will it help to support young creatives?

It’s something I wish I had when I started out. I want young people to create and own their work, share their experiences and perspectives. It’s a first step in the journey to sustainable work for creatives.

There are many versions of success out there now and Youth Music wants to encourage young people to get started and learn as they go. We are not expecting overnight successes, we just want to accelerate that journey into paid work, so they can reinvest into their craft and career. 

We want this first generation of recipients to become future mentors, future Incubator Fund applicants and a strong alumni network that will be making the industry a better place.

I’ll be running workshops every Tuesday at 7pm while the funding is open, and you can email me or ask me questions about the fund by emailing me at creatives@youthmusic.org.uk

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