power up

PRS Foundation launches Power Up initiative

PRS Foundation’s new programme offers targeted support to remove barriers for Black music creators and industry professionals, and calls for tangible action from the music industry.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 25 Jan 2021
  • min read

PRS Foundation has today announced the launch of Power Up. 

Power Up aims to break down barriers to create a fairer, more equitable music industry, to achieve better representation in all sectors of the UK music industry and to amplify the work of Black creators and industry professionals.

It will be delivered in two strands, the Power Up Participant Programme and the Power Up Movement.

The Power Up Participant Programme is a long-term network addressing barriers facing 40 Black participants (20 Black music creators and 20 Black executives and industry professionals) each year. 

Participants will be at crucial career stages, working in any genre or sub-sector, and will be in need of support to progress, powering up through:

  • Grant support of up to £15,000
  • Capacity building and mentoring
  • Support from partners
  • Marketing support

In alliance with the Black Music Coalition, the Power Up Movement will set targets and apply industry pressure to increase Black representation, empower and advocate for Black talent and industry professionals, consequently influencing policy and shaping the future of the music.

Power Up Ambassadors include MC and actor Kano, award-winning BBC Presenter and Music Entrepreneur DJ Targe, Disturbing London founder Dumi Oburota, artist Ray Blk, LinkUp TV Founder Rashid Kasirye and singer-songwriter Sabrina Washington.

The Power Up Executive Steering Committee is made up of key figures from every corner of the music industry including: PRS Foundation’s own Yaw Owusu, Joe Frankland and Kwame Safo, AIM entrepreneur and outreach manager Ben Wynter, veteran industry consultants Keith Harris OBE and Paulette Long OBE, chair of UK Music’s Diversity Taskforce Ammo Talwar, Small Green Shoots chief executive Natalie Wade MBE, A&R director of 0207 Def Jam Char Grant, and more. 

Supporters include AIM, the BPI, the FAC, The Ivors Academy, the MMF, the MPA, MPG, The Musicians’ Union, PPL, PRS for Music and the PRS Members’ Fund.

Char Grant said, ‘I am very proud to be a part of the executive steering committee which is shaping the Power Up programme. I am beyond happy that our shared vision for the betterment of Black people is starting to be delivered on terms that create real opportunity for the next generation of Black artists, Black creatives, and those that wish to build careers in the industry.’

Ben Wynter, co-founder, Power Up, said: ‘I am proud and excited that after a long six months, Power Up is finally able to launch. Having been on the receiving end of unconscious bias and the structural and systemic anti-Black behaviour that occurs within our industry, I know first-hand just how important Power Up is. Following on from Black Out Tuesday and seeing all of the posts of solidarity, I realised that there was an opportunity to seize the moment and put something in place that would encourage the dialogue to last beyond the 2020 BLM movement and have a lasting impact over the next decade and beyond. Step forward Power Up!’

Joe Frankland, chief executive, PRS Foundation, said: ‘In order to tackle anti-Black racism and to bring about meaningful and lasting change, public solidarity is not enough. It must be followed by commitments, accountability and action. Those working in all sectors of music in the UK must do more and must do so with more urgency. 

As an inclusive, proactive and collaborative funder, PRS Foundation is proud to have developed such an ambitious, long-term programme alongside our Executive Steering Committee, passionate Focus Group members and many partners, covering all genres, sectors and parts of the UK.

I especially want to thank co-founder Ben Wynter, Yaw Owusu and the many companies and organisations who have come on board at launch phase to make a real difference. It’s time to step up and we encourage music companies of all sizes to do more to build a stronger, more inclusive and fairer music sector.’

Andrea C. Martin, chief executive, PRS for Music, said: ‘PRS for Music is incredibly proud and excited for today’s launch of Power Up, shaped by 80 Black music professionals, for Black music creators, alongside our charity partner, PRS Foundation. By providing meaningful investment and support at a crucial stage in career development, Power Up is exactly the positive action we need.  We must ensure that the events of 2020 become a real catalyst for change and the Power Up programme will undoubtedly have an important role in supporting greater diversity across the music industry.’

Michelle Escoffery, president, PRS Members’ Council, said: PRS Foundation’s Power Up programme is a vital next step in supporting, championing and investing in the future progression of our Black music community within the music industry as a whole. I am proud to have made a contribution in the steer of this programme. It is so important to break down barriers to entry, accelerate change and empower the music creators and decision makers of tomorrow.

Nigel Elderton, chair, PRS Members’ Council: ‘Congratulations to Joe, Ben, Yaw and the team at PRS Foundation on the launch of Power Up. Instigating change is no small feat. This new fund will help to strengthen, amplify and celebrate the voices of our Black songwriters, composers, music publishers and executives, resulting in a more inclusive and dynamic industry.’

An open call process for Black applicants will be announced in the coming weeks, with members of the Year 1 Power Up Participant network selected and announced in the Spring.  

Power Up will launch with the premiere of the Time To Power Up at 5:00pm (GMT) today (Monday 25 January).