Artist & Business Development Programme: Askies

By Joe Foote


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The Artist & Business Development programme is a support scheme run by Leeds Conservatoire's Artistry & Enterprise team. The program aims to mimic the support a major label artist might receive (or that of a new business receiving seed funding) by offering relevant industry input from multiple successful sources, as well as training programmes, spendable budget and further business partners. In 2019 Indie rock band Askies were accepted onto the program. We caught up with Nathan from the band to find out about their experience on the scheme.

Can you tell us about your band Askies?

We’re an alternative rock band based in Leeds! Ben (drums) and I (bass) met at the Leeds Conservatoire Audition Day, George (vocals, guitar) and Josh (lead guitar) had known each other before coming to the Conservatoire. We became good friends during Freshers Week and thought maybe we should have a crack at starting a band, and here we are!

Having been together for over 3 years now, our sound has developed significantly from when we started, with influences ranging from Foals, Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd, to artists such as Leif Erikson and ISLAND. We’ve self-released 5 singles so far, playing many shows up and down the country with 2 sell-out Leeds headline shows - we can't wait to continue to create and release music over the course of our career.

You received support for the A&E Artist & Business Development Scheme. What was it about the scheme that appealed to you?

We had started to work with the producer-duo Sugarhouse (Viola Beach, Pale Waves) and we needed financial support to fund the recording of our upcoming single 'Forty Three'. In addition to this, we knew the mentoring aspect of the scheme would benefit us hugely. It meant we could further our knowledge of the industry, whilst receiving tailored support from industry guru Steve Farris.

Can you tell us more about the application process?

Due to the fact we hadn't received any form of external funding before applying for the Artist & Business Development scheme, we were pretty clueless with regards to how an application process works - how to explain what we do in a business sense over a long-term period. The whole process was very beneficial for us - it helped us to map out what we wanted to do over the next few years and receive feedback from the panel present during the interview. We recently applied and successfully received more external funding - the Artist & Business Development process helped us to prepare for this industry experience.





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Do you have any tips for students applying for the scheme?

I'd say just have a clear direction and aim for your project - what do you want to achieve with it? During the process of creating a budget for the support you need, make sure that you have covered every aspect of your project financially, this will provide you with a solid finishing touch to your application. The beauty of a PowerPoint design is always a plus too.

Once Askies were accepted onto the scheme - what support did you receive?

We were chosen to be a part of the 'Match Funding' element of the scheme, which meant that Leeds Conservatoire would match our income from things such as ticket sales, merchandise etc. This turned out to be very useful, as it drove us to make sure that we were being as financially sustainable as possible, which is quite hard to do as a band most of the time! As mentioned earlier, we had the pleasure of multiple one to one sessions with Steve Farris, who is very knowledgeable about aspects such as Publishing, PR and Sync Licensing as well as just general industry stuff. He helped us to craft our plan for the coming months and gave us an insight into parts of the industry we had no clue about.

What did you gain from the experience?

We gained a huge amount of confidence - we came to learn that there are people in this industry who are there to help you and support you as an artist. This industry can be seem intimidating and challenging, but having the support from Leeds Conservatoire and Steve Farris, really gave us more confidence not just in the industry, but in ourselves as well.

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You recently received Do It Differently funding. Can you tell us more about the fund?

The Do it Differently Fund is a great fund for musicians and creatives, from Help Musicians. We are releasing our debut EP next year, and need the funds to record, so we applied for a grant to pay for these recordings. Tailored towards independent musicians, this fund is perfect for artists who don't have any financial backing from any publishing companies or labels, with an emphasis on the DIY ethos.

The application process was a good one, with a particular focus on how the funding will make a crucial career difference, as well as a risk assessment with regards to the project, and how challenges and inevitable setbacks will be overcome. This fund gives us the ability to really focus solely on the creative process for this EP, giving us enough time in the studio to create something we are really proud of. Similarly to the Conservatoire's scheme, there is also a mentoring part of the funding, which means we will also be receiving guidance and support with the legal aspect of the industry as well as the Publishing side of things, which will benefit us greatly as we prepare to release our biggest project yet next year.

How did your time at Leeds Conservatoire help prepare Askies on your career journey?

Without Leeds Conservatoire, we probably would never have met each other, so we have a lot to thank it for! During the 3 years, just having the time to focus on ourselves as musicians whilst also learning all about the industry, really pushed us to just go out and experience it for ourselves, which has shaped us into the band we are now. Experiences such as the Artist and Enterprise Scheme have had a huge impact on our career, as it not only gave us the support we needed but also the industry contacts to continue to grow and develop our career, as well as prepare ourselves for applying for other schemes such as the Do it Differently funding. Through the Conservatoire we also met our manager, Glynn Parkinson, so the whole Uni experience has not only given us valuable industry knowledge and skills but has also enabled us to meet amazing and inspiring individuals who we have the pleasure to still be working with now.  

Follow Askies via their Facebook page.

Find out more about our the various Artistry & Enterprise schemes here.

By Joe Foote

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