Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit
K0 A9475 IKAP Come Play With Me Andrew Benge

Five Things We Learnt at I Know a Place 2023

01 February 2023, 13:30
Words by Isabella Miller

Isabella Miller reports from forward-looking music conference I Know A Place, tackling ways to make the music industry more inclusive.

In 2015, Leeds based label Come Play With Me was formed. An organisation devoted to supporting those from marginalised communities to further their careers in music, CPWM has successfully aided in the releases of artists such as Sunflower Thieves, Pop Vulture and Mollie Coddled.

The non-profit recently hosted their annual conference I Know A Place, an all day event inviting women and those of marginalised genders to discuss their experiences navigating the industry. Speakers included Holly Ross of the Lovely Eggs, Rebecca Hawley of Stealing Sheep and Big Joannie drummer, Chardine Taylor Stone, alongside other artists and industry experts.

Best Fit had the opportunity to attend the event and hear first hand how organisations such as CPWM are working to make the music industry more inclusive. Here are five things we took from the conference.

There is still work to be done when it comes to race

Yes, work has been done that has ensured the music industry is more racially diverse, but as shared in the first panel of the day, there is work to be done.

We hear from Chardine Taylor-Stone, drummer for Big Joannie and feminist activist, about her experience touring and encountering both racism and misogyny. “I often feel like I am pushing barriers to prove that black women are present in this industry”, she tells us. “One example I encountered was when my band's headline tour was advertised as the support act, an all white band, on the posters. Those experiences leave us thinking these promotores believe black women dont sell tickets”.

Issues surrounding race were also spoken on by Aaron Casserly Stewart, a grammy award winning artist due to his work with soul group, The Sounds of Blackness. Casserly Stewart highlights how there is a noticeable lack of black people in music organisations at board level. “I was elected as vice chair of Leeds Conservatoire, a music conservatoire and facility in the city centre” he says, “across all eleven conservatoires in the UK, I am the only black man on the board of directors, which is very shocking and disappointing”.

T3 A8877 IKAP Come Play With Me Andrew Benge

Gender diversity in music needs to be prioritised

Alongside Taylor-Stone, the diversity panel also sits Louise Henry, community manager of the independent venue community and CPWM diversity project manager Antonia Lines, both speaking on the ongoing fight to make the music industry more diverse when it comes to gender. Henry highlights how there is still a problem with attitudes towards women from men, sharing an experience attending an event hosted by industry professionals. “Within two hours, I had been spoken to or touched inappropriately”, she says. “We need to be more resilient with this and we need to prioritise diversity in our industry”.

Lines touches on their experience as a non-binary person working in the industry. “I have worked in music for a long time, " they share. “ I think it’s great that changes have been made, like the recent studies that show 52% of the industry is now made up of women. But how many are trans or non-binary? How many have a disability? How many are queer? How many are people of colour?”.

K0 A9451 IKAP Come Play With Me Andrew Benge

You don't have to move to London to make a career in music

As with many industries, there is often the belief that you have to move to London in order to make it. Yet speakers at the conference argue this is not true.

Many of the day's speakers are artists that ascend from the north, including Scottish singer-songwriter Tamzene, who shares her experience going from busking in the Scottish Highlands, to studying in Leeds. Fast forward to 2023, Tamzene has landed incredible opportunities such as the chance to open for Adele at BST Hyde Park last summer. She talks about how she utilised social media as a way to get her music heard, with one Instagram post finding its way to the hands of a line agent which eventually led to her being signed to a major label, proving you don't need to make the expensive shift to London to be successful.

Specifically during a cost of living crisis, a move to London likely feels impossible for those young musicians in the North, which is emphasised by many of the day's speakers. CPWM being a label working out of Leeds, supporting the careers of multiple rising stars, proves that there are initiatives in the North that can aid in musicians careers.

K0 A9495 IKAP Come Play With Me Andrew Benge

Funding schemes exist and they are there to be used

A topic that the event highlighted was the issue of class. Louise Henry shares how working in the music funding landscape has shown that class in particular is often the “biggest boundary” for people trying to get into the music industry and that those in the North often feel the impacts of this first hand. Yet Henry, alongside other speakers at the event, encouraged those to access funding schemes such as the PRS women in music scheme. These schemes are designed to help fund creatives achieve their career goals, no matter their economic position or postcode.

T3 A8873 IKAP Come Play With Me Andrew Benge

Having a baby should not hinder musicians

The third panel of the day focused on parenting in the music industry. Holly Ross of the Lovely Eggs speaks candidly about her worries surrounding touring when she first had her son, but emphasised that it can be done and shouldnt be a hindrance for people in music.

There is a feeling from the panel that labels and events could do more to accommodate mothers and carers. Whether it be the lack of creches in buildings or working hours that aren't flexible or ending deals completely due to artists falling pregnant.

Half way through the panel, the panel host Eve Horne invites CPWM founder Tony Ereira onstage to get a male perspective on the topic. Ereira, a father and someone who has plenty of experience in the music industry raises points that perceptions towards men with children is different to that of women and that this is something that continues to be an issue in the industry.

The panel ends on a high note, with each member sharing how their experiences of parenting has served as inspiration for their music. Leeds artist Mya Craig says, “I have a daughter and she is what I wake up for and she's what inspires me, so why would I want to hide that?”.

T3 A8953 IKAP Come Play With Me Andrew Benge
Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next