Whiskas exploring opportunities for emerging local musicians through LEEDS 2023 support

Samuel Nicholls, or Whiskas as he’s better known in the music industry, talks about opportunities for emerging musicians that’s available through Launchpad, with support from LEEDS 2023

By Alex Grant
Sunday, 10th April 2022, 11:45 am

I’ve been in the music industry for most of my working life. I’ve run music venues, set up a record label, played guitar in the band ¡Forward, Russia!, and I’m a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University.

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I’m also one of the founders of Music:Leeds, a not-for-profit organisation which supports the music sector across Leeds so that we can continue to be one of the very best places for music in the country.

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Samuel Nicholls, or Whiskas as he’s better known in the music industry, talks about opportunities for emerging musicians.

Launchpad is one of the projects we run at Music:Leeds. It gives advice, mentoring and career development to people looking to build a career in music in our city and region.

I’ve enjoyed so many elements of my work, but helping to inspire the next generation of people in the industry is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done.

Having a career in music can feel like a pipedream, but it’s absolutely possible if people are given the right support.

We set up Launchpad because we saw a huge gap in Leeds. There weren't enough ways for people to get started in music. People needed somewhere they could get help and advice as well as platforms to perform and showcase their work.

Launchpad is one of the projects we run at Music:Leeds.

So we started a programme that runs twice a year for anyone who wants to work in the industry, from artists to promoters, composers to producers, to apply for targeted support. It’s been a huge success; over 200 people have been part of the programme since we started.

Even though these opportunities have been amazing for those involved, we know that they’re limited to a fairly small group of participants. We’re always looking at how we can do even more, so this month we’re running the Launchpad Conference and the Launchpad Festival in Leeds.

The Launchpad Conference is happening on Thursday 14th April at The Wardrobe and the Leeds Conservatoire. It was meant to be on 26th March 2020 and was obviously postponed, so it’s been a long time coming!

It’s a day of talks from industry professionals, advice sessions, workshops, and loads of opportunities for artists to connect with each other. There’s panels on developing songwriting, getting press coverage, dealing with royalties, applying for funding, and managing wellbeing.

Tickets to this type of conference usually cost a lot, but thanks to funding from our fantastic partners, amongst them the team at LEEDS 2023 and Arts Council England, we’re able to offer them as Pay As You Feel. If you think this opportunity is for you, please come along!

We’re also running the Launchpad Festival which is a celebration of new and emerging Yorkshire artists over three of Leeds’ best venues - Belgrave Music Hall, Headrow House and Howard Assembly Room.

Every artist performing at the festival has been part of Launchpad, and there’s everything including grime, jazz, folk, pop-punk, and even neoclassical piano. Tickets are just £10 for over 12 hours of incredible music. I can’t wait to watch everyone perform, it’s going to be amazing.