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Seshie - I AM NEXT, London

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Seshie is the founder of I AM NEXT  - a platform for the best in up-and-coming UK music - and winner of the Entrepreneur Award at the 2019 Youth Music Awards.

What was the business problem/opportunity you were trying to solve when you started I AM NEXT?

I could see events happening but everything out there felt stagnant and was nowhere near as lit as it could be. I’ve got an ear for music, and I can bring the right new people together. It was about giving a platform to upcoming artists with live audiences who really get it and presenting the music in the right way. No one else was doing that and great underground music wasn’t getting heard.

How did you do this? What would you recommend to others in your position?

Communication. I was able to build my brand effectively so we could communicate what our product is and build a cult following that is 100% down for what we’re doing.

Don’t be afraid to just do it. It’s better to fail than not try. I’ll always learn and get better.  

The way the industry has blossomed since I started is crazy. It’s so much more diverse now, we have bigger platforms.

What needs to be done next is for there to be as much information and transparency as possible. There’s too much smoke and mirrors.

Let the music stand up for itself and bring it to the widest audience – don’t segment it.

What struggles/setbacks did you face when you were first trying to start your career in the music industry?

Mentors in my field. I’ve had amazing mentors but never specifically from the music industry, people have worked in theatre have mentored me but I’ve always wanted someone who was like an events promoter.

It’s all about who you know. Which is hard when you have amazing ideas but no one will listen because they don’t know you.

Funding. People say it’s out there but where do you go to find out about all of it?! It’s so hard to keep track of, we need one place that tells people ALL the information they need.

Freelancing is hard. But if I get a job say in retail it’s just going to hinder me from doing what I want to do and when you believe in something so vividly you know you can make it happen if you put the time in.  

What advice would you have for other music industry organisations looking to work with young people?

Work with the young people coming through, there’s bare young people coming through. Have a conversation with them

Music isn’t even in schools the way it should be. Producers, artists and labels who’ve come through these routes could give back, speak in their assembly, support out of school music workshops. The education system needs to hear from today’s musicians about how the industry is today.

The foundation I’m setting up is gonna be able to do so much, we’re gonna bring through TED style talks and Revolt seminars. And it’s a two-way thing, some of these 15/16 year olds know more than the 30 year olds anyway! I started doing my events when I was 16!

Battersea Arts Centre’s ‘Agency’ project helped me start out and we need that across the rest of the UK, imagine in Plymouth and Newcastle - the UK would be so amazing if we could have that. Giving the young creatives the chance to look at their future and think ‘I can make anything happen’. The kids that come of the Agency don’t always have that attitude at the start but they leave thinking that.

DIY or DIE – explain the motto

If you don’t do it yourself you’ll die. If I don’t do it myself who’s gonna do it for me? There’s no point in relying on anyone else because in the end it’s still going to come down to you.

I’m now setting up the I AM NEXT foundation and it’s me, I’m doing it, I can’t wait for someone else to make that happen, I’ve gotta put the work in.