Leicester has such a wealth of creative and musical talent but how is the city nurturing, developing and promoting it? SoundHive is here to make sure that’s taken care of.

Driven by musician Chris Ilett, the project intends to set up new representation for the city’s musicians and those who work in the music industry, to provide a space and community for them to develop and thrive in. Committed to bringing new opportunities, major partnerships and big opportunities to the city, we caught up with Chris and his colleague, Ali, to find out more.

Tell us about SoundHive and what it will bring to Leicester

SoundHive is about representing the strongest of the music community, whilst also supporting those who need to grow. We create opportunities to thrive globally, but we also need to support the ecosystem so talent can grow into those opportunities.

We also realise that technology is a major part of the music industry, and in order to contribute to the creative side, we must partner with technology companies, and help that sector to excel. We embrace the rapid changes which technology brings.

How important is it to create these local communities for the music industry?

Chris: In 2021 it’s vital – how do we connect talent to opportunity if nobody knows who they are? There is so much noise that it’s easy to feel irrelevant as an individual. So build great local networks and you’ll have capacity to connect internationally, and sieze opportunity.

When communities work together they build much stronger foundations and become aspirational. Aspiration is a very powerful tool.

We live on a noisy planet where everybody is trying to be relevant. Build something to be proud of, and produce meaningful work, then the audience and opportunity will come to you. That is easier to do when you’re surrounded by others working to the same goal. Individuals will learn to compete globally, not locally.

Ali: If we don’t do this we will miss out on significant opportunities in the music tech industry that could come to the area and we will continue to see talent forced to work elsewhere.

How will SoundHive change the Leicester music landscape?

Chris: At the moment we do have successful people, bands, labels and collectives in Leicester, but you’d be forgiven for not knowing about a lot of them. When I look at the talent that’s here I see the makings of a working, thriving and relevant part of the music industry. So we will work with those who are willing to build on what we already have, but also bring in opportunities to grow rapidly. Above all, a sense of real pride and excitement is often lacking, and that doesn’t need to be the case. 

It’s currently a disconnected city. My friend runs a very well established label in the city and wasn’t sure if PPL PRS was still based here. We need those big players to actively nurture the creative and business talent in the city. We can’t dictate what a scene becomes, but we can enable it to discover its own path. 

SoundHive is about representing the strongest of the music community, whilst also supporting those who need to grow. We create opportunities to thrive globally, but we also need to support the ecosytem so talent can grow into those opportunities.

How do you think Leicester ranks as a creative and digital city?

Ali: Within the city there is a strong creative and digital footprint with the two universities, City Council support and many small to medium size creative enterprises (eg. the Institute of Creative Technology at De Montfort University). But from an external perspective Leicester probably would not rank highly. SoundHive will raise the profile of Leicester in the music and tech sector.

Chris: I see a disconnect here too. There’s magnificent work in creative and digital, but it’s often drowned out by older service-industries shouting to feel relevant. Those who are really innovating need a lot of help on Marketing and PR. They have strong capabilities but are weak in communicating their relevance. 

Investing heavily in global marketing partners will yield better results from the vital investments in creative and digital innovation. 

Where do you see the city heading in the next 5 years?

Ali: Expect to see more work spaces suited to digital/technical activity. For example –  Space Park/University of Leicester. Growth in the creative and cultural sectors and greater connectivity around the city. Many people come to Leicester and stay because they love the vibrancy and diversity. The city is on a continuous process of improving  and growing its infrastructure to make it an even more attractive place to work with an increase in professional employment.

Chris: As long as people accept that we are currently disconnected and work to fix that, then Leicester will flourish. The universities are immensely strong. The city council has an incredible team. We have access to the fastest internet in the UK. Individuals are – for the most part – ready and willing to support and nurture great ideas. But most people aren’t aware of any of this.

As long as we invest in marketing – our lifeline to the rest of the world, then the city has the capability to be recognised for its output on a global level.

SoundHive is only just in the process of forming as a company and we’ve already got an opportunity for Leicester to be a world leader in an emerging technology. Dolby Atmos is newly relevant to music and its consumers. We could create work for audio professionals for years to come, because of our record label contacts.

No other city in the world has that opportunity. 

Are there ways for people to get involved?

We are always looking for strong partners. Some partners are local, but we also have international partners, like Disney Music Publishing. 

On a creative level, we’ll run a songwriting collaboration project soon, so we definitely want people to get involved in that. We’re also considering a regular listening post so we remain aware of talent, and can guide people at the creative stages of music making.

We’re partnering with Leicester Startups to put together an accelerator course based around music technology. The industry is crying out for tech innovation – both at a commercial level, and a consumer level.

Get in touch if there’s anything specific you want to help with – or that you need us to help with. chris@soundhiveleicester.co.uk

Where can people find out more? 

You can visit our website – soundhiveleicester.co.uk. We also have a Facebook group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/soundhive

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