by Author Daniel Williams

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Findings from Youth Music's 18-25 Consultations

At the end of 2018 Youth Music undertook a series of consultations across the country to explore how we could better support young adults aged 18 to 25 with our funding.

Young adults in this age range currently make up less than 10% of the 89,000 participants involved in Youth Music funded projects. We wanted to find out how we could grow our support for those aged 18 to 25 - a crucial and often challenging period of transition out of education into adulthood and careers - and ensure that our funding is actually doing what is most needed for this group.

Working with youth participation expert Adem Holness and two Wired4Music members we co-designed a consultation process to hear what 18 to 25 year olds involved in Youth Music funded projects thought about; their musical experiences, their future aspirations, the challenges they face, their views about Youth Music, what support they’d like from Youth Music, and how they’d like to access and shape this support.

We spoke to over 50 people aged 14 to 27 across the country, and our findings have been summarised in the following report written by Adem Holness:

Download the 18-25 consultation summary report

Summary of what we heard:

Most people we spoke to had aspirations to pursue careers in music, either as artists or music professionals. They felt ready to take their next steps towards this but wanted some extra support to help them get there.

People expressed a need for mentoring and guidance, often to develop their own ideas and projects or to navigate the music industry or arts sector. They described wanting advice from people just a few steps ahead of them, not long time established professionals who gained their experience at a different time.

They were keen for more knowledge about pathways into professional music careers or opportunities to translate their creativity and music experience into earned income (especially true of non-performing roles in music). Routes into paid work in music were seen as opaque and difficult to access (especially outside London).

People were extremely positive about the support they had from the Youth Music funded organisations they were involved with, but they would also like to access funding as individuals.

They described experiencing barriers to accessing existing funding pots for emerging artists which were seen to be exclusive and inaccessible, either because of jargon, terminology and extreme competition or because they required musical skills or an audience base beyond their current level.

Outside of London, they described a need for better connectedness within their music communities; and that stronger networks with peers would help them share skills and support each other’s development. Most consultation groups talked about needing more access to space, performance opportunities and resources.

Finally, those who took part were keen to get involved with making these changes happen, and having more of a say over provision aimed at their age group, but they were clear opportunities to do this needed to be meaningful, and where possible, paid.

Next Steps

As outlined in the report and following this consultation process we’re now developing our strategy for working with young adults based on youth voice and participation principles, which are being embedded across the organisation and board.

The first step of this is to grow the range of paid work opportunities at Youth Music for those at the start, or early stages, of their careers. This creates value for both the individuals gaining real work experience and access to new networks, as well as for Youth Music who will benefit from the new skills and relevant insight - ensuring youth voice is at the heart of our work.

Through this we will work with 18 to 25 year olds to co-create the following new funding streams:

  • Small grants that individual young people can independently and directly apply for to support their next steps in music or their music career
  • Larger grants for organisations working with 18 to 25 year olds

*subject to securing additional funds.

If anyone is interested in having a more detailed discussion about this area of work please contact

Youth Music awards funding from Arts Council England raised by players of The National Lottery.