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A Year In The Life Of UD: 2022

What a difference a year makes! Looking back to the beginning of 2022, the finishing touches were still being made to our new home, Talent House.

With our opening delayed by untimely floods in east London, we kept the UD (now United Development) editorial flowing, bringing you how-to-guides, reporting from live shows, introducing new artists and more. 


Kicking off the in-house activity with our Industry Takeover Seminars in April, host Chris Cooke (CMU Daily), guided us through topics including Monetizing Your Music, Sorting Out Your Music Rights, The Deal: The Route to Market, Building a Fanbase and more. Speakers dropping knowledge bombs over the six sessions included Ella-Bonai Gordon (Manager), Dan Owusu (Co-President, Dream Life Records), Wale Kalejaiye (lawyer), Davina Merchant (A&R Manager, Downtown Music), Lara Baker (Director of Business Development UK & Ireland, Songtrust), Shauni Caballero (Founder, The Go 2 Agency) Terence Daniel (Relationship Manager, PPL), Callum Hay (Head of Label Services, Ditto), TK (CEO, Manager & Label co-founder, Finesse Foreva), Timothy Youdeowei (Music Strategy, The Orchard), Daniel Ayim (CEO @ AGM Agency), Krish Kudhail (Senior Artist Marketing Manager @ PLATOON), Leon Matthews (Video Director/DOP @ Krown Media), Esta Rae (Senior Events Manager, AIM), Shikayla Nadine (Artist Manager & Founder, SNM Management), Manga Saint Hilare (Artist) and Simon Jordan (Partner, Commercial Music, Russells). Thank you to everyone who shared their knowledge with us in 2022! 


Spring also saw the UD Songwriting Camp take place at Talent House, with the Flames Collective out in force, ready to collect new skills – and songs. Over four days, we were graced with special guests Alana Maria, Digital Mozart, Michelle Escoffery, Ella Bonai Gordon, Stevie B Beatz, Mark Angels, Preye Crooks, Trey Qua & Grammy nominee Taneisha Jackson, for a programme of activities to get those all important creative juices flowing.


In May, UD returned to The Great Escape, Brighton, with four new artists taking to the Komedia Basement stage on the Saturday afternoon. Scuti, Amie Blu, Molly Elizabeth and Sarah Isabella all eloquently showcased why they’re ones-to-watch. 


We were finally ready to officially open our doors to the public in July, and who better to do the honours than London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. It was a chance to celebrate the spectacular space that UD share with East London Dance, a one-of-a-kind creative hub on Sugar House Island, Stratford, London. The Talent House brings both organisations together under one roof to support and inspire outstanding music and dance talent. Along with a powerful statement of intent from UD’s Chair Lord Adebowale CBE, DJ Digital Mozart, Flames Collective and UD forefather DJ Pogo, supplied entertainment alongside choreographer Kloe Dean. Thanks to Ghetts who also lent his support on the night and all of our funders (including the GLA) who made Talent House possible. 

In August we kicked off Free Yard, an initiative providing east Londoners aged 16-25 complimentary studio time. Returning for 2023, we welcomed more than 30 new talented artists to Talent House and look forward to welcoming many more of you in the new year. 

A definite highlight for the team this year was the launch of UD’s Open Mic night. Beginning on 18th August, it proved popular from the off. Now a monthly fixture, with host Nayana at the helm and UD’s Michael Amarteifo on keys, we’re growing a beautiful community vibe, a space that’s safe for all who want to share their music in a live setting. And a big shout out to the media team – Dres Lenses, Saadiq, Hyabel and Kat Friar – for their top efforts on the documentation front. 


In fact, Open Mic proved such a vibe that in October we teamed up with Timberland for Bold Steals the Spotlight, at Village Underground in Shoreditch, for one night only. DJ Shaxx kicked off the night with some Afrobeats before the host, Max Mckenzie, took to the stage to welcome everyone. Humble Shaun, Molly Elizabeth, Malaika, Scuti, J2, Emiko, Joshua-Alexander, NuAloe, D Wills, Arinola, Saiming, Ariez Baby, Nayana & Dan Dannah joined the live band for a night that was quite the movie. Timberland and UD’s common goal of building and strengthening community was definitely achieved.


UD were also invited to program DJs for Timberland’s pop-up store events. From street art and up-cycling workshops to learning about city gardening, hikes and open mics, they covered all the bases. Various DJs, curated and booked by UD, provided the soundtrack – thanks again to Digital Mozart, Maria Hanlon, Jojo Jones, Prod284, DJXHNWAV, DJ Scotty, Ahmed & K-Star for the sonic persuasion.

Closing October, Flames Collective unveiled ‘My Hood’, a film by Alice Underwood, choreographed by Jordan ‘JFunk’ Franklin with music production by Andy Gilbert. Commissioned as part of East Bank’s 2022 Creative Programme, Flames worked on two songs – a cover, ‘My Hood’ by Ray BLK and ‘Breathing’, an original piece created specifically for East Bank. The Dystopia to Utopia: Reimagining Our Future event took place on Sept 22nd, a large-scale outdoor performance fusing dance, music, spoken word and film. Creatively produced by East London Dance in partnership with UD Music, the performance includes an 80 strong cast of community, youth and professional dancers and singers from east London. The ‘My Hood’ film was projected onto buildings during the performance, with Flames also performing live at the event.

Good news came in November with the announcement from the Arts Council and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, confirming UD will receive continued funding support over the next three years. In tough economic times, continued investment in creative talent and organisations – especially those supporting Black music and youth, who are under-represented in the music & arts sector – will drive growth in our world leading creative industries. Thank you for believing in us and the work we do. 

In the same month, we also kicked off our new Masterclass Series, promising to bring skills and a bag of practical music know-how to our HQ. We welcomed Elijah, an artist manager, DJ and writer who shares notes daily on Instagram about sustainable artist creation, the music industry and the future of work, to share his knowledge with an intimate audience. Looking to continue uplifting our members (for whom the classes are free), we return in the new year – Wednesday January 11th to be precise – with a production Masterclass from Grammy and Jazz FM Award winners, Blue Lab Beats

Looking ahead, we’re excited to be recruiting students for September 2023, when a new chapter – and term –  will begin at UD’s Talent House with our Level 4 Courses. Whether your future involves becoming a successful artist or a music producer, our Level 4 courses (the first year of a degree), awarded by the University of East London (UEL), will help you make your dreams a reality. With our next Open Day in January, you can read or download our prospectus today, email level4@udmusic.org for more information or to book a visit.

As we wish you a Happy Christmas and close our doors until January 4th, if you’re still on the lookout for the perfect gift, starting from just £25 per year, or £10 a month, we have membership packages to suit artists and entrepreneurs. Whether you’re looking for entry level support or to take your career to the next level, our membership programme offers a variety of options for those trying to succeed. With hot desk co-working space, free studio time, discounted tickets and showcasing opportunities, remember; our House is your House. 

To get tickets for Open Mic or a Masterclass, visit UDtickets.com.

Words: Chantelle Fiddy, Marketing Consultant, UD.

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