Home / Blog / Talent House / What’s On… UD Announces New Strategic Partnerships with Converse, Sony Music UK and Soho House Foundation

What’s On… UD Announces New Strategic Partnerships with Converse, Sony Music UK and Soho House Foundation

UD STRIKES NEW STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS WITH CONVERSE, SONY MUSIC UK AND SOHO HOUSE FOUNDATION TO CHAMPION THE NEXT GENERATION OF YOUNG BLACK TALENT.

Ahead of its 25th anniversary kickstarting later this year, the Black-led National Youth Music OrganisationUD – has announced several strategic partnerships and senior appointments to further its work in championing the next generation of Black creative talent and opening doors to life-changing opportunities for young individuals who draw inspiration from Black music culture. Amongst its new high profile partners are Converse, Sony Music UK, and the Soho House Foundation.

UD’s partnership with Converse aligns with the brand’s mission to fuel youth progress through support, culture and creativity. Specifically, UD will create a new Youth Access Programme for those who aspire to build a career in music, media or the wider creative industries. The programme will offer ambitious creatives the opportunity to undertake holiday or summer schools, participate in professional development training as well as UD’s flagship Industry Takeover events, and achieve a Youth Arts Award. Graduating to a tailored Acceleration and Employment scheme, participants will undertake UD’s Level 4 (degree level) creative entrepreneur course and be part of its Incubator and subsequent Accelerator Programme. All young people will also benefit from subsidised Talent House membership, with up to ten unemployed or under-employed individuals given work experience and mentoring support.

Flames Collective

Through its partnership with Sony Music UK, made possible via the music company’s UK Social Justice Fund, up to 50 young Black music creatives and start-ups will be offered subsidised Membership of UD’s Talent House, a £4.1m state-of-the-art facility which was launched in Stratford in 2022. The membership scheme provides free access to fully-equipped recording studios and a co-working space as well as a series of networking, showcasing and training events and one-to-one business support from industry experts over a 12-month period. The initiative is designed to support 18-25 year olds primarily from low socio-economic backgrounds, bringing positive change to the lives of young people and the wider local community.

UD’s new partnership with the Soho House Foundation will extend the organisation’s outreach in schools in the London Borough of Newham and advance its engagement with local young people. It will also support UD’s flagship talent development programme, Flames Collective; in September 2023, “Flames” joined Mercury Prize and BRIT Awardnominated RAYE at the Royal Albert Hall for the live album recording of “My 21st Century Blues” which aired on BBC 1 earlier this month. The vocal group also performed with the star on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in June.

Flames Collective x Raye x Royal Albert Hall
Luke Dyson @lukedyson

Alongside these critical partnerships, UD has appointed Selina Wedderburn as General Manager and Cleo Amedume as Community Manager. An alumna of the first ever POWER UP programme, Selina joins UD with ten years’ experience in senior operations roles across the music business at PPL, Your Army and Rehegoo, as well as artist management and live music events for emerging talent; whilst Cleo, who started her music career at the female empowerment movement Girls I Rate, was also co-founder of the artist management company MUVVA. Cleo now represents Amazon’s One to Watch 2022 Chrissi & Talay Riley

UD’s board of directors has also been strengthened by the appointments of Danny Pamma, Head of Legal at Visible Alpha, and Lisa Buchan, Global Partnerships Lead at H&M. They join the six strong board chaired by Dr Anne Marie Imafidon MBE which includes AIM’s Gee Davy and Atlantic Record UK’s Austin Daboh.

Ghetts, UD Board, East London Dance and Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan
Talent House opening 2022.

Pamela McCormick, CEO of UD, said: “UD’s journey over the past 25 years has been underpinned by individual commitment and industrywide collaboration and so as we plot and plan for the next 25 years, it’s essential to have the right partners and people in place. The appointment of Selina and Cleo as well as our new Board members, Danny and Lisa, boost our bench strength and extend the reach of our work; whilst our new relationships with Converse, Sony Music UK’s Social Justice Fund and the Soho House Foundation reflect our shared ambitions to empower and uplift the next generation of creative talent. Support from these individuals and organisations will facilitate the continued delivery of our essential work with young Black talent, from the initiatives in schools and the local community, to the nurturing of musical talent, professional development and support for wellbeing initiatives. I’m excited to be working with such innovative and forward-thinking minds who understand the importance of cultivating a diverse music industry and developing a pipeline of talent which reflects the society we live in.”

General Manager, Selina Wedderburn

Newly appointed General Manager, Selina Wedderburn, added: “UD is a powerhouse that I have watched grow over the years into one of the most effective and impactful organisations making a difference to the diversity of the music industry. I’m excited to be working alongside a pioneer like Pamela and the UD team, as well as so many talented young people who are getting access through UD to some of the best teachers, mentors, and opportunities that the music business has to offer. I feel privileged to be part of something so mission-driven, and I am committed to ensuring that we continue to break down barriers and build up the next generation of incredible Black creative talent.”

Supported using public funding by Arts Council England

In 2023, UD was selected by Arts Council England to become a National Youth Music Organisation where it plays a pivotal role in shaping the creativity, diversity and ambition of Britain’s world class music scene. The organisation engages with 2,500 young people each year through a range of educational and talent development initiatives and has been instrumental in the early stage careers of Wretch32, Little Simz, Ghetts, Andreya Triana, Maverick Sabre, Dyo, Devlin, Labrinth, Skepta and Paigey Cakey as well as the professional development of executives now in senior roles across the industry at Apple, SoundCloud and Universal, amongst others.

Kano, UD Re:Definition 2011.
Photo: Alex Maryon

About UD

UD is a London-based music organisation bringing communities together around Black music and Black music culture. With almost 25 years of experience in nurturing and supporting Black and culturally diverse artists when they need it most, UD acts as a bridge between burgeoning talent and the music industry.

At UD, we are passionate about excellence, and the potential for excellence in every young person we encounter. Aligning professionalism and business acumen with an understanding of youth and subculture, we run industry-led events, artist development and employment support programmes. Those that have come through our doors can now be found working at institutions including Island Records, Nike, Rinse FM, GRM Daily, Beats and SBTV.

Since 2000, when UD was co-founded by a group of hip-hop artists, we have understood that young people need the resources and space to create and explore their potential; UD works for a world where young people who make and love Black Music, are recognised as equal to any excellent creative individuals, and are celebrated and supported as such. Whether they’re on their first steps into music, just breaking into notoriously competitive creative environments, or about to make it big, we provide the tools they need: Excellence, confidence, structure, opportunity and networks.

Find out ways to get involved HERE.

Follow UD on Instagram.

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