Updated: Feb 16
PRS for Music last week launched their new initiative ‘Power Up’, that was set up to provide support to Black musicians and professionals across the UK in the form of grants, mentoring and marketing support.
Image Credit: PRS for Music
The initiative that was announced last month, will select 20 Black music creators and 20 Black industry professionals each year to receive a support package which includes up to £15,000 in grants, mentoring, and marketing and growth support.
The initiative will be managed by PRS for music but the programme was birthed from a partnership between PRS, YouTube Music, Beggars Music and the Black Music Coalition, drawing on the knowledge and experience of over 80 Black music professionals.
The initiative will be directed by a steering committee of 16 experienced professionals including the Director for Africa for Sony Music, Taponeswa Mavunga, Sheryl Nwosa (Lawyer and Chair of the Black Music Coalition), and various others. You can see a full list of committee members here.
‘Power Up’ Will also benefit form an ambassador programme which has already seen support from the likes of Alex Boateng (Co-President of 0207 Def Jam), artist Lady Lushurr, and BBC radio presenter Tiffany Calver, as reported by Music Business Worldwide. A full list of the ‘Power Up’ Ambassadors can be found on the PRS for Music website.
The initiative has come as a result of the increased awareness of the inequalities and underrepresentation that still exist for Black musicians and industry professionals in the modern music industry. Following the events of last year, the rise of the BLM movement and the industry blackout, it became evident that the music industry was no exception and that it wasn’t doing enough to tackle inequalities for its Black members and colleagues.
In an attempt to remedy this failure, the PRS foundation stated that the aim of ‘Power Up’ is “to break down barriers to create a fairer, more equitable music industry, to achieve better representation in all sectors of the UK music industry, and to amplify the work of Black creators and industry professionals”.
Image credit: PRS for Music
To achieve this goal, the initiative will employ two main elements, working simultaneously to create a more representative industry for all. These two strains will be the Power Up Participants Programme, providing grants and support to creators and professionals, and the Power Up Movement.
The Power Up Movement is an alliance between the PRS foundation and the Black Music Coalition. The movement will set targets and apply pressure on the industry to increase Black representation and to champion and empower Black talent and industry professionals, with an aim to influence policy and shape the future of the music industry.
Since the announcement of the initiative many of its steering committee members and ambassadors have spoken about why ‘Power Up’ is necessary to tackle these issues.
Managing Director of Keith Harris Music Ltd and member of the Power Up Executive Steering Committee, Keith Harris OBE said: “Last year in the wake of the George Floyd episode so much was promised in terms of shifting the dial to improve the situation for minorities in the music industry, so little has so far been delivered. Power Up is an important step towards that delivery.”
Alex Boateng stated: “Power Up is needed. The opportunities still don’t match the talent in our industry, it’s changing - but we need to do more. So it's a pleasure to help.”
Tiffany Calver also offered her opinion on the need for the initiative:
“Solidarity is no longer enough, we need action to make any real change in our industry and the wider society.
“Power Up is a great example of what action can look like. I’m proud to be an Ambassador for Power Up and excited for the future of the industry and hope this inspires more people to get involved but also empower others to push forward their own actions for positive change.”
In addition to the initiative itself a new podcast series entitled “Time To Power Up Podcast” has also been launched to provide a platform for deeper discussions centring around the experiences of Black creators and professionals within the UK industry. The first episode was hosted by Radio 1Xtra’s Presenter/DJ, Ace, and featured guests such as Keith Harris, Kwame Kwaten, Rich Castillo, Hannah Kendall, Despa and Neicee Oakley.
Applications opened last week (10th of February) for the Power Up Participants Programme and will run through until 6pm on Wednesday the 10th of March. To find out more about the initiative and how to apply, check out the PRS for Music website.
By Darren Hay