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Bristol-based Harbourside Artist Management has been commissioned by Youth Music to create a new initiative aimed at increasing disabled representation in the music industry.

The Disability Empowerment Programme will see the company bring on a young music manager with a disability, long-term health condition or neurodiversity in a paid position. They will then run a six-month project with a selected band or artist who identifies as the same, to release a fully funded EP with a full marketing campaign and music video.

The manager joining the programme will be between 18-25 years old, as the position is designed to increase representation of young disabled people in music. They will join the company on a six-month part-time paid internship and will lead the artist programme, managing the successful band or artist through an EP release, with the full support of the Harbourside Artist Management team. Applications to join the programme as a manager are open until January 25th and the post starts on February 21st, you can see more details of how to apply here.

The artist or band will also be between 18-25. They will receive full funding for a music release including studio time, mixing, mastering, artwork, a music video and a PR campaign for the release. Bands and artists can apply until March 7th and would be in the studio to record by the end of April. You can see more details of how to apply as a band or artist here.

Both positions have been created to address a lack of opportunities for young people who identify as having a disability and are also based outside of London. The Artist or band should not already be with a management company or record label.

Louise Henry is the Senior Grants and Learning Officer at Youth Music: “Youth Music are thrilled to be supporting Harbourside Artist Management on their Disability Empowerment Programme. We fully support their mission to create a more equitable and diverse music industry, and see this programme as a brilliant, unique conduit for meaningful change.”

Harbourside Artist Management has strong roots in the disability arts world, with established clients including Viktoria Modesta and Lachi. The programme comes after the company last year found that a lack of representation was discouraging young people from identifying the music industry as a sector they believe they could work in.

The results came in an industry wide consultation funded by Arts Council England, which nearly 150 music industry workers with disability took part in. The consultation was commissioned in response to an Arts Council investigation that found that only 1.8% of music industry workers identified as having a disability.

Owner of Harbourside Artist Management Ben Price hopes the programme can be the start of improving that statistic: “We’ve identified a problem in our consultation last year, now we’re doing our bit to try and solve it. It won’t be a short journey, but the Disability Empowerment Programme will hopefully help to improve the number of disabled people working in the industry both on stage and behind the scenes.

Ben came into management after a long career as a tour manager, before learning of a degenerative eye condition. He set up Harbourside to help increase representation of artists with disability. He also sits on the BPI Equity and Justice Advisory Group, an independent board of music industry professionals, who contribute to steering the BPI’s Equality,Diversity and Intersectional work for its members, award shows, events and The BRIT Trust. He was also a member of the MMF Accelerator Programme in 2021.

He hopes this can be the start of an ongoing programme to get more people with disabilities into the music industry, “I have spoken to so many people who don’t see the music industry as an inaccessible place for them to work. We want to change that perception and show that there can be opportunities if employers are willing to make reasonable adjustments to improve accessibility in the workplace.

The manager joining the programme for the paid internship will also receive additional benefits including MMF membership giving access to hours of free training and networking, a ticket to the Great Escape music conference this year, and enrolment in a Music Ally training programme on social media marketing.

The full results of Harbourside’s Arts Council England consultation into the Future of Disability in the Music Industry in 2021 can be found here.

The Disability Empowerment Programme is supported by Youth Music’s Incubator Fund, thanks to funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Anyone interested in applying for either position can see more details on the Harbourside Artist Management website or contact ben@harboursidemgmt.com with any questions.

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16 May 2022

  • UK success at Eurovision 2022 (see Features, Showbiz, Live)

  • What does the #CryptoCrash mean for web3 and music? (see Comment)

  • Managers report delay in visas for performers wanting to enter UK (see News)

13 May 2022

  • BMG and Warner Music bidding to buy Pink Floyd’s catalogue (see Deals)

  • MMF: "What is currently an opaque black box of song royalties, needs to be transformed into a glass box" (see Opinion)

12 May 2022

  • MMF publishes Song Royalties Manifesto (see News)

  • Girl bands made British pop great – so where have all the good ones gone? (see Features)

11 May 2022

  • More on myth that 60,000 songs are uploaded to Spotify daily (see Analysis)

10 May 2022

  • Travel limits on international music tours to be eased (see News)

09 May 2022

  • Music industry earnings 2021: Riding the wave (see Analysis)

06 May 2022

  • Copyright Royalty Board asked to approve 32% increase on mechanical royalties (see International)

  • Streaming is not the future of the music economy (see Opinion)

05 May 2022

  • Research confirms the majors benefit most from Spotify's curated playlists (see Analysis)

  • Report: Women in Music 2022 (see Analysis)

04 May 2022

  • Why did #MeToo bypass the music industry? (see Opinion)

  • SoundCloud acquires Musiio (see Digital)

  • How TikTok’s evolution can help artists grow (see Analysis)

03 May 2022

  • Black women are finding their voice against abuse in the music industry (see Comment)

  • Spotify shares now selling at less than the IPO price four years ago (see Analysis)