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NextGen Community Event: YES Manchester

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three people sit in a row. two are listening and one is holding a microphone and speaking as part of a panel.

Photography: Alice Reid

Youth Music headed to Manchester on Wednesday 26 July for our second in-person NextGen Community Event.

A free event, the evening provided a chance for local young creatives to connect with other like-minded people starting out in music, network, and find new collaborators.

Youth Music NextGen, PERiiSU, got the vibes going with a DJ set as the guests arrived, settled in and networked.

The first part of the event began with a panel discussion, hosted by multi-disciplinary artist and creative, Yelena Lashimba. Joining her were is33n (artist), Martha Bolton (Growth Lead at Defected Records and Founder of Not Bad For A Girl) and Jasmine Rowland (DJ and radio host). The panel discussed the importance of community when building a career in music, from growing an audience to building a network with your peers, and creating a support system with people you trust.


To begin the panel talk, host Yelena opened up a discussion around the significance of local music scenes and how they can be a stepping stone for artists to gain exposure and experience. Jasmine Rowland shared how getting involved with Manchester community radio led her to build a career as a DJ and radio host. Martha Bolton shared how moving from the small village she grew up in to Manchester, where she experienced the city's club scene, inspired her to pursue a career in the music industries.

The panel then talked about the benefits of both online and offline communities to expand your audience. They discussed how social media can often be a difficult place to exist while building a career in music, but how it can also provide a space to connect with fans and other creatives.

a woman stands on stage with ambient blue lighting behind

Sharing knowledge and resources is a key part of being in a supportive community. The panel spoke about the importance of not gatekeeping and growing the collective expertise within your community. "Sharing your work is all about taking risks and diving in...Trusting the opinions you value and taking the leap of faith to make the first steps...I’m wrong more times than I’m right and creating your ideas can be difficult but its but it’s all an important process", is33n expressed.

Lastly, the panel shared their opinions on overcoming barriers in the music industries. "I was so scared to call out misogyny when starting out in the industry, working for labels and at events," Martha said. "It is important to know your worth and call out unacceptable behaviour".

Jasmine expressed the need for more creative opportunities outside of London, saying: "London is expensive and travelling there is not feasible for so many creatives, it’s a huge barrier that needs to be tackled".


After the panel discussion, it was time for the performances. All young emerging artists based in Greater Manchester, 

First up was B!TEZ, who played her tracks ‘Say To You’ and ‘Newsflash’, closing the set with ‘The World Writes On Me’. Sampling bossa nova rhythms, the single felt sonically reminiscent of Noname, one of B!TEZ musical inspirations.

Meduulla and her producer Ethan then took to the stage to perform some tunes, including her latest single, the super catchy 'Limbo'. Meduulla also spoke about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the music industries and supporting local artists.

Elevated by the smoke machine and pink backdrop, four-piece synth-pop band Hot Minute emanated HAIM in their performance, but with the aesthetics of a leather-clad 90s rock band. Keely, the lead singer and songwriter of Hot Minute, also spoke about the challenges around finding time to create when you also have a day job, as well as the joy of performing with friends.

Lastly, winner of the Outstanding Act Award at the Youth Music Awards 2021, Superlative was accompanied by rapper Piqasso to end the night on a high. The crowd was soon singing along to ‘Gangsters’, one of Superlative's latest tracks.

Jumping back on the decks, PERiiSU wrapped things up with a DJ set, to close another inspiring NextGen Community event.

Join the Youth Music NextGen Community to get information about our funding for young creatives, freelance work, as well as job and training opportunities.