PRS Foundation has announced the launch of Power Up, a new initiative designed to tackle anti-Black racism and disparities within the music industry.
The programme, which launched today (January 25), has been shaped by over 80 Black music professionals and aims to support 40 Black music creators and industry figures a year through grants and industry-wide support.
Power Up was set up and will be managed by PRS Foundation in partnership with YouTube Music, Beggars group and the Black Music Coalition. Supporters include the Association of Independent Music (AIM), the BPI, the Featured Artists Coalition (FAC), The Ivors Academy, the Music Managers Forum (MMF), the Music Publishers Association (MPA), the Music Producers Guild (MPG), the Musicians’ Union, PPL, PRS for Music and the PRS Members’ Fund.
The initiative aims to break down barriers for Black artists and industry professionals to create a fairer and more equitable music industry. It is also seeking to help achieve better representation in all sectors of the UK music industry and to amplify the work of Black creators and industry figures through both the Power Up Participant Programme and the Power Up Movement.
The Power Up Participant Programme is described as a long-term network that will address barriers facing 40 participants each year – 20 Black music creators and 20 Black executives and industry professionals.
Those taking part in the programme will be at crucial stages in their careers and can be working in any genre or sub-sector. They will be given grant support of up to £15,000, marketing support, as well as support from partners and mentoring.
The Power Up Movement, meanwhile, will be run in alliance with the Black Music Coalition and will set targets and apply pressure to the UK music industry to increase Black representation and empower and advocate for Black talent and industry professionals. It hopes these moves will help influence industry policy and shape the future of music.
The Power Up initiative is led by a group dubbed the Executive Steering Committee, including artist manager Keith Harris OBE, 0207 Def Jam’s A&R Director Char Grant, Sony Music’s Director Of Africa Taponeswa Mavunga, and more.
“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,” Harris said. “So little has so far been delivered. Power Up is an important step towards that delivery.”
Ambassadors for Power Up include Kano, DJ Target, singer-songwriter and former Mis-Teeq member Sabrina Washington, Disturbing London founder Dumi Oburota, Ray BLK, and LinkUp TV founder Rashid Kasiyre.
Of the initiative, Kasirye said: “As a Black professional in the UK Music & Media industry, I am well aware of the many challenges that people like me face and feel. So I am happy to be supporting Power Up as an ambassador to create positive change for Black music creators and professionals within the industry as a whole.”
Washington said being involved in the Power Up programme was “an absolute honour”. “Having been in the music industry for over 20 years, I truly believe the future is now and Power Up will be at the forefront of inspiring a whole new generation of artists,” she continued.
Ray BLK, meanwhile, said she was “delighted and so proud” to be an ambassador and to “lend my support and voice for the initiative to help make the change the industry so desperately needs”.
An open call for applicants for the first year of Power Up will be announced “in the coming weeks”. Members of the Year One Power Up Participant network will be selected and announced in the spring.
The programme follows a new bursary programme called Rip It Up launching last week (January 18). It aims to provide a platform and direction for the next generation of Black, Asian and diverse musical talent.
Meanwhile, pioneering hip-hop label Big Dada announced earlier today it will relaunch as a label run by and for Black, POC and Minority Ethnic staff and artists.