All Together Now: How TheWRD Is Helping To Open Access To The Music Industry

In a new series UK Music takes a look at the projects and organisations that are helping to open access to the music industry for everyone.

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It is vital for the future of the UK music industry that educated, informed, diverse and talented young people join the sector every year.

That’s why the music industry works closely with Government, education institutions and other organisations to improve access to opportunities for children and young people to develop their skills and knowledge in order to help them build a career in music.

The music industry dedicates a significant contribution every year to supporting the education and career aspirations of young people across the country.

In a new series UK Music takes a look at the projects and organisations that are helping to open access to the music industry for everyone.

To open the series Ian Mack, CEO and co-founder of TheWRD from The Ivors Academy tells us how the further education diploma is making an impact.

The logo for The WRD and The Ivors Academy.

“We know that it’s tough to start a career in music and break into the creative industries.

Before launching TheWRD from The Ivors Academy we surveyed 500 19 – 29 year-olds interested in a career in music and over 70% felt that starting a career in music would be difficult, saying they faced barriers such as not having the right contacts, it being too much of a financial risk, a lack of opportunities and the industry not being open to people from their background.

Almost 50% felt they were unable to afford further education and one in four said they do not have access to courses near where they live. 93% said they were facing at least one barrier.

TheWRD is a new wave in education, one way in which we can overcome these challenges and open access to a career in music and the creative industries.

It is a UCAS-accredited Access to Higher Education Diploma in Creative Entrepreneurship.

Uniquely, the course starts with expertise from industry professionals, which is used to create high-quality creative education, provided by expert educators with AI technology.

It takes up to two years and you can study online from anywhere, with personalised support. Students learn at their own pace.

The course is split into eight parts – music, technology and culture; releasing music landscape; brand; live music, festivals and touring; how the music industry works; entrepreneurship; professional development and each student runs a creative project.

“Studying TheWRD was the best decision of my life” – Amosa, a student.

Candidates can apply for an Advanced Learner Loan to cover the course costs, which is written off if a student carries on to higher education and completes a degree.

It is just £5,000 for private students and we have Ivor Novello Scholarships that cover the course fee to support disadvantaged students.

Andy Skinner, the first Ivor Novello Scholar.

The skills and knowledge that students develop, many of which are highly transferable, will create new opportunities whether they stay in education, start a career in music or move to another creative or complementary industry.

The first group of students began in September 2022 and a second intake started in January 2023.

“TheWRD is really brilliant. I wish there’d been something as career-focused as this when I was younger.” – Ella Lucia, Stylist, Creative Director and industry course contributor.

The response from the music industry has been incredible so far and continues to grow.

Songwriter of the Year Jamie Hartman and Oscar winning producer Paul Epworth have backed TheWRD since the start and have been joined by Celeste, Peter Gabriel and The Ivors Rising Star winner Naomi Kimpenu.

Paul Epworth, Jamie Hartman and The Ivors Academy Chair Tom Grey at The Ivors 2022. (c) Ash Knotek.

Companies large and small have given the expertise of their staff to create course content and made the scholarships possible.

We’re grateful to Amazon Music, Audoo, GigRealm The Office Group, Pirate Studios, Spotify, TikTok, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group and many more.

Importantly, we’ve brought a taste of TheWRD to aspiring creatives in Gloucester and East London with Music Works and Pirate Studios, and the North East with Generator.

“I can see the potential pathways that TheWRD could open up for me and that does not look like anything I thought would be possible without the programme. Due to disability and limits that are put on me elsewhere, it feels like TheWRD wants to let me fly.” – Andy Skinner, TheWRD student and the first Ivor Novello Scholar

TheWRD is for everyone, everywhere. Contact me if you want to be part of it and make a lasting difference so that talented people can overcome barriers and let their creativity fly. I’d love to chat.”

You can contact Ian Mack, founder and CEO, TheWRD from The Ivors Academy at ianmack [at]

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Find out more about UK Music’s education work here.

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