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Reflections on Round 1 of the NextGen Fund

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woman wearing sunglasses that say buzzing on, looking up at the sky
NextGen Fund recipient Alicia Haye

Written by Elijah, Project Lead of the NextGen Fund at Youth Music

Thinking about applying for future rounds of the Youth Music NextGen Fund? This blog will help you work out whether to apply and how to increase your chance of success.

The NextGen fund was designed to invest directly in young people wanting to take ownership of their creative careers and make their ideas happen. We asked 18-25 year olds (and 26-30, if identifying as Disabled) to come up with a project idea with a budget of £2,500 to move their future in the music industries forward.

The majority came from artists looking for funding for Singles and EP releases, but we also had applications from emerging label owners, managers, videographers and people developing a variety of music platforms. 

We learned a lot from both running workshops, and hosting 1-1 drop-in sessions where we could answer questions from young people. That learning is going to inform future rounds.

What made a good application?

We received 330 applications and funded 37 creative projects. Here are some of the common themes we've identified.

  • Video and visual applicants had a high success rate - they gave us further clarity on projects that didn’t come across in writing. There were also some creative efforts that people put into the videos  and visual documents that made these applications memorable.

  • Achievable projects - we wanted to see ambition, but we also wanted the delivery and outcomes to be manageable and realistic for the applicants.  

  • Active artists - if links sent in were old, without any recent output, they didn’t build our confidence in the projects. We weren’t concerned with number of followers or plays, but if we could see movement already happening publicly it made the projects stand out. 

Meeting the Budget Criteria

  • Projects that scored well had detailed budgets and timelines - whether that was researching studio and mastering costs, or finding ways to be resourceful and ways of spreading the budget across many different things.  

  • We didn’t want people to spend the majority of the budgets on marketing or advertising with no creative justification behind it. There were many with creative marketing efforts, well budgeted that we funded.  

  • Time To Create allowed people to pay themselves to deliver the project, and a lot of people allocated some of the budget to this, which we want to encourage so people are creating sustainably. 

5 Tips for Future Applicants

  1. Include your music or the project that you are most proud of.

  2. Include an attachment - this can be a project timeline or any kind of document that may help us understand your art or project a bit better. 

  3. Keep your social media up to date with your latest songs and projects. There are a couple of months between submission of the application and assessment, so when we can see progress it looks good. 

  4. Explore new ideas that you haven’t done before, and exciting ways of delivering your projects. Releasing a single is great, but really delve into why this particular song or project is going to move you forward.  

  5. Get creative with how you are going to market and let people know about your project. We want you to be responsible for as much as possible. 

What next for the Next Gen Fund?

We will be back with round two at the end of November.
Leading up to the launch we will run three workshops:

  • Writing strong funding applications (Tuesday 26 October 7pm) 

  • Designing an effective project (Tuesday 2 November 7pm) 

  • Building a network in music (Tuesday 9 November 7pm) 

Keep an eye on our socials for further information on how to sign up. Additional workshops will also be announced. 

Get in touch creatives@youthmusic.org.uk if you would like to organise one for young people.  

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NextGen Fund Round One recipients

Learn more about the first round of organisations receiving grants from our Incubator Fund, designed to help open up access to sustainable careers in music for people aged 18-25, particularly those who are underrepresented; and to support creative employers to innovate and incubate new and diverse talent.

Join Our NextGen Community

Are you aged 18-25 and chasing a career in music, but finding it tough, closed off and hard to break in to? 
Start finding your way in with Youth Music's NextGen Community.