The BPI – the voice of independent and major record labels across the UK – today announces details of the 21st round of Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) funding. A total of £500,000 has been awarded to support 28 UK artists as they look to grow their international profile and exports in global music markets.
The scheme, which is managed by the BPI, exists to boost British music exports by supporting small to medium sized music companies as they build on the commercial potential and profile of their artists in key overseas markets. It is a successful partnership between industry and Government with joint-funding coming from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) alongside investment from the UK recorded music industry, which on average contributes just under two-thirds (64%) of total spend.
Coinciding with International Trade Week, the artists who are benefitting from this latest round of artist investment are drawn from the UK’s nations and regions and reflect the vibrant diversity of British music across different genres. Without MEGS, small to medium sized companies and artists are often not in a position to fully fund all the marketing and promotional work needed to connect artists and fans globally, and in turn to maximise the opportunity to grow their export revenues and boost the profiles overseas amongst increasing international competition. They also face tour and other costs that are rising rapidly.
Assets for the recipient artists in this 21st round of MEGS funding can be found here.
The successful applicants include companies representing, among others, Nigerian born, London based musician, Obongjayar; Glasgow band, Mason Hill; Belfast alternative rock group, New Pagans; Welsh singer-songwriter, Elkka; Liverpool acts Red Rum Club – described as 'Mariachi Merseybeat' – and rock group The Mysterines; Leeds singer, DJ and producer, Emma-Jean Thackray; Manchester electronic group, W.H. Lung; Bristol singer-songwriter Katy J Pearson; and Kent-based indie-pop solo artist Will Joseph Cook. There are also a number of acts from London, including electro-pop duo Jockstrap; rapper Knucks; art rock band Dry Cleaning; and girli, whose music explores issues around feminism, sexuality and queer culture.
See NOTES for full artist list.
This funding comes at a pivotal time for the UK music industry as it seeks to maintain its position as the world’s second largest exporter of recorded music in the face of increasing global competition. While the UK’s recorded sector has in recent years succeeded in growing export revenues, accounting for 1 in 10 global streams, the UK’s share of the global market has slipped from 17% in 2015 to 10% today. Continued funding by Government through MEGS remains essential given its potential to strengthen the UK’s ability to compete internationally and to support annual music exports rising to over £1billion by the end of the decade.
More than 60 UK artists whose music was streamed at least 20 million times worldwide in 2021 are among the 300-plus artists who have received funding through the Music Export Growth Scheme since 2014. Among the MEGS streaming success stories last year were electronic music artists Bicep and HONNE, singer-songwriters Beabadoobee, Bruno Major and Rina Sawayama, and Mercury Prize and BRITs winning rock band Wolf Alice, who each accumulated more than 100 million audio streams. Also supported by MEGS, indie pop artist The Japanese House, singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt, indie pop group Kero Kero Bonito and metalcore band While She Sleeps all surpassed 50 million audio streams across the year.
Trade Minister Andrew Bowie said:
“The UK is the second largest exporter of recorded music in the world, with artists here accounting for 1 in 10 tracks streamed globally in 2020. British artists have a global reputation for creating, writing and producing amazing music, and thanks to the Music Export Growth Scheme we are proud to support UK-owned independent music SMEs and artists grow British music abroad.”
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize, said: “UK artists know just how valuable the Music Export Growth Scheme has been in helping to build their global fanbases and boost exports. We are grateful to government for their consistent support of the Scheme over the past decade, but with an impressive 13 – 1 return on investment, we should be more ambitious. The scheme should be expanded further as the global streaming market continues to grow, or we risk missing out on even more potential big wins for the UK. It’s time to invest to ensure the UK remains a leading global music nation.”
Creative Industries Minister Julia Lopez said:
"The UK has a fantastic track record of producing trailblazing musicians who achieve international success. While our music industry remains incredibly strong, emerging stars do not always get the financial backing they need to take their careers to the next level. This funding will help give them the leg up they need to showcase their skills and British culture to the world, while also driving economic growth at home."
Please see below for quotes from MEGS recipient artists and/or their representatives.
MEGS FUNDED ARTISTS & QUOTES
- Bear’s Den
Speaking on behalf of Bear's Den, Manager Rowan Brand said:
“Looking at the enormous touring costs being faced by internationally-touring acts, many artists are simply not able to take those valuable next steps in the face of the current environment. Thankfully, for many British acts, the BPI's MEGS funding provides critical and career-shaping support to help overcome obstacles and ensure that incredible British music continues to grow across the globe.”
“Thank you to MEGS for supporting me with this fund. It gives me a warm feeling knowing my art has reached and touched a vast amount of people! It is a privilege to be acknowledged by MEGS as one of their artists to support. This funding will assist me in continually breaking new barriers!”
- Connie Constance
"I'm very excited to have been given this opportunity to expand my business abroad by MEGS and the BPI – it's an essential lifeline for independent artists. I can’t wait to be seeing more of your beautiful faces next year. Big Love."
- Dry Cleaning
Speaking for Dry Cleaning, Artist Manager Tim Hampson said:
“Dry Cleaning have received MEGS funding at the perfect time in their career. The band have just released their acclaimed second album ‘Stumpwork’ and will embark on a global touring schedule that takes them well into 2023. The funding will help us accelerate our growth in our target market of North America and will enable us to build our audience through live performance and a detailed focus on the data aspect of our campaign. We are delighted to have the opportunity to leave a lasting impression on fans and in turn set the artist up for repeated visits and growth in the territory.”
“Being a touring artist has pretty much never been harder, especially if your ambition is to put on a big live show. Performing live has always been a dream of mine and knowing there are still organisations in the world like MEGS, who are willing to fund musicians like myself in a time where there is so much uncertainty for those pursuing careers in arts and culture, is incredibly heartening. Thank you so much to the MEGS and BPI teams.”
- Emma-Jean Thackray
Speaking for Emma-Jean, Jay Cox of On A Plate, said:
“I’m delighted to receive MEGS funding on behalf of Emma-Jean Thackray. Emma-Jean’s debut album ‘Yellow’ has been well received across the world and MEGS funding allows us to balance books and capitalise on opportunities on the international stage.“
- Everything Everything
"The USA is usually only profitable or even viable for the smallest proportion of UK acts, meaning our principal cultural export is increasingly poorly represented in the world's largest music market. This funding helps to make US touring possible for our band and many acts like us, in the face of ever-rising costs and a punishing exchange rate. Thanks to the Music Export Growth Scheme and the BPI for this leg-up."
- Gently Tender
“We're absolutely delighted and so grateful to be receiving funding for our European tour. Touring Europe has become incredibly expensive post-Brexit, but we really want to build this band all over the world - not just the UK. Being able to play to thousands of people over the coming month is going to be a huge, huge help to us.”
“Being awarded the MEGS grant is a dream come true. It means a huge amount that my music, art and hard work on my project is recognised by MEGS, and I’m so excited about the opportunities this grant will open up for me and my music.”
Speaking for girli, Adam Daly of VRTU Music adds:
“I am thrilled that girli has been awarded with this most prestigious grant. We know how fierce the competition will have been and we are hugely grateful for the opportunity that this will open up internationally.”
- Jane Weaver
“I’m overjoyed to be the recipient of MEGS funding. Having never toured the USA before with a full band, this support will allow us to continue our current album campaign and reach new audiences and fans who buy our records but have yet to see us live. The rising costs of touring is making it increasingly difficult to engage with fans overseas. Playing live is crucial for independent artists like myself, and this essential BPI funding will allow us to fulfil our touring commitments and promotional campaign outside of the UK.”
"Thank you so much MEGS and BPI – we’re so excited to tour and bring our new album to North America. Your support means so much to us and we are going to make the most of this. Thank you!”
- Katy J Pearson
“I am so grateful for this funding as, for a new artist, this grant will ensure I can tour Europe lots more in the new year. As I write this I am walking to the venue I’m playing tonight supporting pavement in Bremen, and the idea that I get to do this loads more because of this financial help is marvellous.”
Speaking about Katy J Pearson, Tony Crean, Fleet River Management, said:
"Katy’s worked tirelessly in the last few years, both recording and touring her two critically-acclaimed albums and finding innovative ways to keep in touch with her fanbase when lockdown forced her off the road in 2020.
“She’s had brilliant support in across live and media, from Green Man Festival promoting her to main stage to BBC 6 Music massively supporting all her singles, and this has resulted in a No.1 Independent album and sold-out tours across the UK. The BPI/MEGS grant will enable Heavenly and PIAS to continue to develop Katy in Europe and US in the best possible way, helping build a real audience that can keep growing with her.”
Speaking for Knucks, his management company said:
"We are pleased that Knucks has been selected for this grant and excited to extend Knucks’s messaging into new territories.”
- LA. Salami
Speaking on behalf of L.A. Salami, Sarah Bolshi of Sunday Best, said:
“We are so very grateful to MEGS and the BPI for awarding this grant to L.A Salami, which will greatly help us develop his career in USA and Europe. This much appreciated additional funding will help us to further his album campaign through touring and additional marketing, thereby building on his existing fanbase whilst spreading the brilliance of UK music worldwide.“
- Mason Hill
“We could not be more thrilled to receive this MEGS support and really look forward now to getting over to Europe to bring our music to all those fans who have supported us through our debut album release!"
- New Pagans
"We're so delighted to receive this funding from MEGS at a critical point in our careers, and it'll help us expand our already growing audiences across Europe. This funding will boost our profile and take us to new places, and provide us with the opportunity to share our music and live shows in Europe."
“To be an independent artist and remain true to your vision, it’s not always easy to find the resources you need, so this programme has made a big difference. It gives me the chance to go places I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to go, and make the most of opportunities that wouldn’t have otherwise been there. So thank you!”
- Oscar Jerome
Speaking for Oscar Jerome, manager Charlie Millar of Au Contraire said:
“MEGS will allow us to boost Oscar's international campaign considerably and provide the resources for us to invest properly in Japan (where Oscar scored a #2 airplay hit and will be touring in 2023) as well as the USA and key European territories where we've seen Oscar's latest album, 'The Spoon', be well-received.”
“Making our debut album was one of the greatest joys. We spent a long time working on the tour show as a production. However, we have struggled to be able to take the show on the road due to budget. Now, thanks to this incredible MEGS funding we are able to promote and tour in support of our debut album on stages which would have otherwise been inaccessible for us to travel to. Thank you so much for your belief in us, and for all you do for musicians in this country.”
- Red Rum Club
MEGS recipient artists, Red Rum Club manager, George Wilson (entertainments), said:
"As a music manager, successfully accessing grants is an integral part of what I do. Therefore, I‘m so grateful to the Scheme and the BPI for their support. Without such help, it really would be so difficult to advance the career of artists, given the increasing costs of touring, particularly overseas. Again, I would like to express my thanks for all the help here, and also on behalf of Red Rum Club."
- Roo Panes
“Thank you so much to MEGS and the BPI for this funding! I’m hugely grateful. It’s going to be so helpful in pushing this next album internationally and giving my music a greater chance of being heard beyond the UK.”
- The Mysterines
“We want to say a massive thanks to the Music Export Growth Scheme and the BPI for supporting us with this funding. We love playing live and think it’s the most important way we can connect with and build our audience. Receiving MEGS support to be able to do this outside the UK is a huge contribution to our growth!”
- Thomas Headon
“Thank you so much MEGS and BPI - this tour is so important to me and will help me expand my already ever-growing audiences across North America. Thank you so much for the belief you have in me, and for everything that you do to help musicians across the country. Sending love!”
- Trash Boat
MEGS recipient artists, Trash Boat front-man, Tobi Duncan, said:
“The previous few years have been devastating for the music industry in general, primarily widening the gap between artists that can and cannot support themselves. We all seem to be working harder and earning less and less for our efforts. Few of us are in it for the money, but it's foolish to believe we can keep doing what we love on passion alone. Grants like this are a now essential jump start to all those who face the void of rising costs. This is a great help and highly appreciated.”
- W.H. Lung
MEGS recipient artist, W. H. Lung artists Tom Sharkett & Joseph Evans, said:
“We’re so pleased and grateful that we’ve been selected for the Music Export Growth Scheme. This will help us massively in our band's growth in the wider world, and we're so excited to play to our US audience next year."
David Cooper of Melodic, representing MEGS recipient artists, W. H. Lung, said:
“We’re so pleased and proud that the BPI have selected W. H. Lung on the Music for Export Growth Scheme. Our aim internationally was always to reach as far and wide as we could with W. H. Lung's music and we see this as a significant step in the band's musical career.”
- Will Joseph Cook
“Over the moon to receive MEGS funding! Having the extra support to help my music reach more people and places around the world is really special. Since releasing independently it has been a conscious effort of my team and I to really connect with the international fanbase I’ve grown online. Nothing beats reaching those people in real life through my performances which is why MEGS funding is going to be such game changer for the project. Thank you to everyone involved!”
- Yazmin Lacey
“It feels quite impossible to express how much the support from MEGS means to me and my music. This is really going to open new avenues, opportunities and countries, and bring so many new listeners to my music. I’m beyond grateful and so excited to power into these new spaces. Thank you."
- You Me At Six
“A massive thank you to the BPI for providing You Me At Six with the MEGS funding award. This will be a great help in assisting the band within their album campaign to reach their full potential overseas alongside continuing to create connections with fans in these key territories.”