Young people dreaming of making it big in the music world have been given a huge boost by the creation of a new diploma.
And the scheme, launched by the prestigious Ivors Academy and aiming to break down barriers of background and encourage diversity, comes with the backing of some top names inside the industry.
They hope to identify the likes of the next Sam Fender, the Geordie singer-songwriting sensation who picked up the Best Song Musically and Lyrically gong for his Seventeen Going Under single at the prestigious Ivors awards earlier this month .
The new academic qualification, called TheWRD, is a two-year diploma in Creative Entrepreneurship. The UCAS accredited course has been established by key music insiders to directly improve access and increase opportunities for participants with a keen interest in popular music.
And among those leading the charge are Oscar and multi Grammy award winning record producer Paul Epworth and Brit Award and Ivor Novello winning songwriter Jamie Hartman.
“It took me 30 years to go from busking in Portobello Road to winning the Ivor Novello Award for songwriting last year,” said Hartman, who has penned global hits with the likes of Lewis Capaldi, Calvin Harris, Jennifer Hudson, Celeste and Rag ‘N Bone Man.
He addded: “And that was only because a music producer heard my songs and gave me my first shot. I was very lucky. What chance does a kid with no connections from somewhere like Barnsley have, if they haven’t got access to local mentors, instruments, the right facilities and technology?”
Hartman argues that the local and regional live scenes have all but disappeared and that the pathways into the sector are getting narrower, ‘particularly if you don’t excel in school or go to a top university’.
“It’s innovative projects like TheWRD that are going to revolutionise the business. Everyone from songwriters and managers to publishers and label heads, have come together to create a gold-standard course, with real opportunities attached.”
Epworth, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Song with Adele’s James Bond song ‘Skyfall’, and whose production credits include the likes of Rihanna, Florence and The Machine, U2, Coldplay and Lianne La Havas, will himself be a tutor and mentor on the diploma and warned that Britain risked ‘losing music superstars of the future because the music industry was too expensive and too exclusive’.
The course will be delivered through a combination of artificial intelligence driven remote-learning alongside regular group sessions and mentorship days in local grassroots music venues across the UK.
Students will be taught and mentored by top music artists, publishers, producers and composers and will study all aspects of the industry, including music, technology and culture, live music, entrepreneurship and branding.
The course will be state-funded for those who qualify, or it can be funded privately, and there will be bursaries available to help with fees.
Graham Davies, CEO of The Ivors Academy, said: “Music was the one thing I was good at when I was at school, and I was lucky to scrape onto a music degree course, but the financial pressures then are nothing like they are now. I doubt whether I would have been able to do the same course today and that’s why I’m so excited about TheWRD. It’s really going to help break down barriers to people entering this industry.”
The Ivors Academy was founded in 1944 and its annual Ivor Novello Awards recognise the best songwriters and composers from around the world.
The Academy itself is the leading independent professional association for songwriters and composers and members include Ed Sheeran, Annie Lennox, Stormzy, Paul McCartney, Joan Armatrading and Elton John.
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox