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BLOG: The hidden talent are at risk of being ignored

There is a gap in access to music education and career development for underprivileged, young talent. The hidden talent are at risk of being ignored.

British urban music and grime is at its peak commercially and creatively, with a global reputation. So why isn’t there enough focus on developing the next generation?
It is well known that there are a number of talent development schemes created to help young people progress from music education into early career development. We know that in classical, even in jazz, there are well prescribed progression routes. But what about those who don’t have the means to study those genres, or those whose talents lay outside of the structures of formal education?

The decline in music education in schools is a huge issue generally. Provision is of course not standardised across schools, some schools do not even offer music as an option in GCSE. But, the lack of music education targeting or catering for urban music is even more sparse.

Urban music genres have never been so popular or commercially successful both in the UK and globally. According to the first ever comprehensive study on public attitudes towards grime music, ‘The State of Play: Grime’ published in October Grime music this year (Ticketmaster, Disrupt and the Black Music Research Unit at the University of Westminster), 2017 from has been a breakthrough year for Grime.

The commercial success of the UK Music Industry is currently very strong. So why is there such little focus on music education to sustain this success at grass roots level? What can we do and what responsibility do we have as Talent Development Partners to ensure that young artists and musicians continue to thrive and have the best access to the tools they need to take the industry by storm? Why is the government and the industry not more supporting of music education and taking more responsibility to create a talent pipeline?

Therein lies the mission of Urban Development. As a pivotal talent development organisation, we have recognised the gap. Standing at the intersection between education and the industry, we give talented, young artists, be they producers, songwriters, vocalists, MCs, the platform and support to study their craft and develop their skills. Our task is to advocate for the value of urban music both to parents, teachers, music hubs and local authorities. Not only to encourage a healthy and diverse music ecosystem, but critically to allow that hidden talent to shine, and most importantly give the next generation of industry professionals and artists the space to grow.


Zakiya Bale, Project Manager at Urban Development

Urban Development’s vision is to be THE talent development centre and national youth music organisation for commercial and urban music – recognised by the public sector for our social and cultural impact; respected and rewarded by the commercial music industry for our value add.  Combining business acumen with the dynamic needs of youth culture, our work stands at the crossroads between innovative new music creation and industry.