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RIP IT UP - a new bursary programme supporting young Black, Asian and diverse talent into the music

Welcoming in a new generation of creatives and talent to the music industry, Rip It Up launches today as a curated and bespoke bursary programme providing a platform and direction for the next generation of Black, Asian and diverse talent to impact on the music industry in the months and years ahead.

The growing disparity when it comes to racial equality within the music industry remains a vital issue, needing to be confronted and addressed not just through words but with action. With Rip It Up, the teams at Sound City, Youth Music, sm-mgmt, CAPLL LTD and more have come together for a direct programme encouraging and pushing change - offering 10 important bursaries that provide the perfect nurturing framework for young talent to emerge and enter the music industry.

Combining an eight session education programme covering a string of vital areas within the current music industry (from campaign strategies, publicity, recording/production, music distribution, management and more) with an extended practical product - Rip It Up looks to provide the framework and opportunity for young creatives to immerse themselves with a rich knowledge of the industry they wish to enter. 10 selected applicants will receive extensive support from the very beginning of the programme, with a financial grant assisting in their studies - with the sole aim of discovering and providing opportunities for talent from across different communities and backgrounds the equal chance to engage and thrive within the eclectic music world.

Lending their expertise to Rip It Up are an array of artists, industry figureheads and experts all looking to give back to a new generation of music industry talent. From spotlight speaker sessions, to mentorship and debate insights - this crop of individuals will be investing in the future in their own individual ways across the programme. Helmed by course leader and long-standing industry innovator Yaw Owusu of THE PLAYMAKER GROUP, talents from all corners of the industry will be offering their insights. From Seye Adelekan, a revered musician who has spent the past decade touring and playing alongside some of the biggest names in British music history (including as a part of Gorillaz) and breakthrough rock favourites Nova Twins (whose powerful activism have helped start conversations across the industry) to Vanessa Bakewell (Global Client Partner [Entertainment] at Facebook), Liam James Ward of digital agency Be-Hookd Digital (Sea Girls, The Wombats, The Script, Hipgnosis) and Killing Moon Records’ (home to Marsicans and Bad Nerves amongst others) Achal Dhillon to name but a few - Rip It Up promises to be one of the first programmes directly helping drive that call for greater opportunities and platforms for young Black, Asian and diverse talent to make that step into an industry crying out for greater diversity and inclusion.

Seye Adelekan said:

“It's a big honour and privilege to be a part of Rip it Up, sharing my experiences with young people taking part. I mean, I didn't go to Uni or Music College, but what I lacked in that formal education I made up for by learning from great players and producers who have come before me and those who continue to create to this day. I think hearing from people first hand is really going to benefit the young people involved in Rip It Up and I count myself fortunate to be a small part of that”

Course leader Yaw Owusu said:

"Rip It Up is a solution based response to challenges in the music industry for emerging black artists and creatives based in Merseyside. I am happy to be supporting this by working with the participants to learn, develop and share, in the hopes that their experiences, skills and opportunities improve in regards to their careers in the music industry"

Achal Dhillon of Killing Moon Records said:

“Diversity (or lack thereof) issues are all around us - I don't think anyone who has a fully functional brain and has borne witness to the events of the last twelve months in particular (of course, the issue is as old as civilisation itself) needs a reminder or much convincing that racial prejudice is very real. Music being at the forefront of cultural expression therefore suffers from these issues more acutely, or indeed benefits from them when diversity is at the forefront of music businesses' strategy. I've gone from being told that Indian people shouldn't work in A&R back in 2007 (apparently we only make very good accountants or lawyers, according to one label head I was being interviewed by for a job), to founding, running and indeed expanding on the A&R indie powerhouse that my company Killing Moon has become. I am a firm believer that most issues subsisting in the world can actually be cured by good, proper education whereby elephants in the room aren't just addressed; they are centre-stage and reading to everyone else from the pulpit. This is the main value in what I can see Rip It Up doing, by engaging with those becoming the next leaders of the music businesses and placing this sort of thinking into the mindset of those that are not just going to inherit this industry, but also for the first time in more than 50 years have the real opportunity to shape what it looks like, and what it stands for.”

Liam James Ward of Be-Hookd Digital said:

“I'm incredibly excited to be working with Rip It Up to hopefully give the next generation of young Black, Asian, and Diverse artists and execs the insight and tools to develop their online audience. As someone from an Asian and underprivileged background myself, diversity in the industry is an issue close to my heart and I feel honoured to have been asked to do my part to help.”

Becky Ayres, MD of Sound City said:

“We are so delighted to be able to run Rip It Up. Increasing diversity within Sound City and helping effect change within the wider music industry is an absolute priority for us and is part of our action plan for 2021 and beyond. Being able to offer training, mentoring and paid work experience and artistic opportunities for Black, Asian and diverse young people in the North West is something we are so grateful to be able to do with the support of Youth Music. The talk with Ammo Talwar and Paulette Long from UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce on 21st January will be where we discuss what we can do collectively as a region in Liverpool too, which is vitally important to assess where we are now and then to go on to create tangible change and opportunities for Black, Asian and diverse people across music.”

Applications for Rip It Up are now open to young people aged 18-25 across the North West, separated into two strands:

5 of the 10 bursaries will be focused on Artists themselves - with the practical element incorporating professional experience within a recording studio alongside an engineer being covered as a part of the Rip It Up scheme.

The other 5 places will be focused on Industry applicants, with the practical element incorporating a paid placement within a professional workplace situated in the industry sector they wish to enter.

All 10 successful bursary individuals will receive a dedicated mentor to assist them with regular meetings and discussions, with monthly updates continuing after the programme to assist in further job placements and industry catchups.

To apply, please head to

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