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Academic seeks help from Leeds’s music community for new project


An academic has launched a new project to make music in Leeds better than ever and is seeking the help of the city’s people.

Sam Nicholls

The Music:Leeds project, led by Samuel Nicholls, Senior Lecturer in Music at Leeds Beckett University, also known as Whiskas, aims to create more opportunities, increase collaborations and raise awareness within the Leeds music scene. It will explore, nurture and promote music in Leeds as an experience, as a business and as a cultural driver.

The first stage of Samuel’s research involves recording the music activity in the city to put together an accurate picture of how much is going on at all levels. This will focus on music creators, music performers, music businesses and organisations supporting music-based activity.

For this part of the project, Samuel is looking for volunteers to help create a database of music activity in Leeds. The team want to gather as much information as possible on Leeds musicians, venues, promoters, studios, community organisations and businesses.

To get involved, there are two surveys to take part in: audience members, musicians and venues should complete the UK Live Music Census survey available here by Wednesday 31 May. Volunteers contributing to this survey can also be in with a chance of winning festival and concert tickets and an iPad. All other music businesses, organisations and professionals in the city should click here to share their information.

Samuel explained: “I have been working with new musicians in Leeds for nearly 15 years now through promoting gigs and running record labels, and I have also been passionate about the opportunities the city has to offer. Since 2010, I have curated the annual Unconference event as part of the Live At Leeds festival, where we bring local and national figures from the music industry to give advice and support for musicians and music business in the city. Through that, it has become clear there is a wealth of fantastic people and organisations throughout the city but there isn’t always a way to connect people to the right offering, or to communicate this range of opportunities.

“For the last couple of years I have been talking to, and working with, a range of organisations and institutions, both local and national, about how we can connect all the great activity in the city and with Leeds City Council and the team leading Leeds’s bid for European Capital of Culture in 2023. The first step to building a strategy for this is to know what’s going on in the city, and that is what we are launching now.”

The next stage of the project will involve using the information gathered to create a framework to support music organisations at all levels, make existing support more accessible and achieving more recognition for the wide range of talent working in music in Leeds.

Samuel added: “Cities such as Austin, Melbourne, Aarhus and Sheffield have published reports over the last couple of years, and we will follow suit. We have been lucky to be able to collaborate with the team behind the UK Live Music Census who enabled us to work with them and a wide range of live music stakeholders in the city; and we now turn our focus to all other music businesses in the city.

“We are undertaking a lot of research to try and identify all the recording studios, managers, promoters, touring services and more in the city, but we would like the music community to help us accurately identify this as much as possible. Once we have collected all the information we can on music in Leeds, and conducted a range of interviews, we will host a forum for discussion with any interested parties in the city music scene later in the year, before publishing and working on practical recommendations with key stakeholders such as Leeds City Council and Leeds 2023."

Samuel Nicholls is a former musician, promoter, venue manager, artist manager and record label owner in the city who now works as a Senior Lecturer in Music, is an advisor for PRS Foundation and Arts Council England, and sits on the Artistic Programme Advisory group for Leeds’s European Capital of Culture bid. For further information about Music:Leeds, please email whiskas at whiskas@musicleeds.com

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