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Young people in north of England less likely to be supported in playing music, says study

Youth Music’s SONG (Sound of the Next Generation) report says only two per cent of young people in the north have had the chance to perform at a local music venue.

By Will Richards

Sam Fender poses for Rolling Stone UK
Musicians in the North East are far less likely to pick up an instrument than those in London, despite the success of the likes of Sam Fender (Picture: Damon Baker/Rolling Stone UK)

Young people in the north of England are the least likely to feel supported in playing music, a new study has revealed.

Youth Music’s new SONG (Sound of the Next Generation) report says only two per cent of young people in the north have had the chance to perform at a local music venue, with only 25 per cent having recently played their music in public at all.

The report states that 52 per cent of young people polled in the north of England see themselves as musical, with the number in the south 10 per cent higher.

Elsewhere, young people in the North East are 18 per cent less likely to play a musical instrument than those in London, despite the likes of Sam Fender becoming new stars from the region.

In a statement upon the publication of the report, Youth Music CEO Matt Griffiths called on the new Labour government to provide better support and opportunities for budding musicians in the region.

Oasis in 1994 (Picture: Paul Slattery)

“The impact and influence of music artists like The Beatles, Oasis and others from the North of England have had on the music industry in decades past is undoubtable, so it is concerning to see the lack of young people feeling supported and nurtured musically from the region,” he said.

“Let’s be clear, this is not due to a lack of musical and creative talent in the North. There is already great work happening in the region, delivered by our Youth Music funded partners, including the recently formed Northern Music Network and a growing, connected music scene in Yorkshire. However, these grassroots organisations are having to focus on short-term survival, restricting their ability to plan for the longer-term. The new government must pledge to invest in this vital infrastructure and workforce, providing safe, creative environments for young people across the country.”

Griffiths added: “So called ‘levelling up’ has so far been a strapline, not a reality. Now has to be the time for the new government, working collaboratively with music education and the music industry to step up, ‘Root for Grassroots’ and invest to ensure a more diverse, inclusive and creative music ecosystem across the UK.”

The UK music industry, meanwhile, has told new Prime Minister Keir Starmer that he has a “resounding mandate for change” and urged him to support grassroots music.

In a statement, UK Music CEO Tom Kiehl said: “UK Music sends its congratulations to Sir Keir Starmer and his team on their election victory, which gives his new Government a resounding mandate for change.  

 “The incoming Labour Government has been elected on a platform to implement a plan for the creative sector as part of its industrial strategy. The potential of the UK music industry to contribute to growth must be at the heart of this plan.  The music industry is facing a number of challenges, but also opportunities. A strong relationship between UK Music and the new Government will be essential to navigating what the rest of this decade brings.”

A similar statement also came from the British Phonographic Industry (BPI). “Congratulations to the new Labour Government – we look forward to working together to promote our world-leading music industry,” said CEO Jo Twist.