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“Liverpool’s emerging music scene is thriving, evolving and diverse.”

There’s more to LIMF than global headliners and sell-out crowds, the award-winning festival also runs an artist development programme known as the LIMF Academy. We spoke with Kate Gilston, LIMF Academy’s powerhouse Project Manager to find out all about it…

What is LIMF Academy?

The LIMF Academy supports new and emerging unsigned music creators between the ages of 16-25 from across Merseyside who are pursuing a career in the music industry. We look for talent, activity and potential regardless of the genre or style of music they perform.

We work with a wide range of talent, at different stages of their development; offering relevant opportunities and experiences. For the outstanding talent, we have the elite talent development programme which includes mentoring, industry showcase opportunities, a bursary and monthly development sessions. For the more raw talent we offer our annual masterclass and local showcase opportunities to help them to develop and grow.

What is your role?

As Project Manager, I work alongside Yaw Owusu (Festival Curator) to curate and facilitate the yearly programme. I organise and deliver all showcases – which we hold in Liverpool and London. I work alongside industry professionals to deliver skill sessions such as song writing, vocal training, performance training and also run masterclass sessions. The masterclasses cover anything from guidance on how to get gigs, A&R sessions with labels, advice on publishing and funding – we try to cover all the bases to offer as complete support as possible. We also introduce and create relationships with the key people within the city.

What is the best thing about your role/the greatest challenge?

The definite highlight is seeing artists progress and grow throughout the programme. Although the LIMF Academy is an annual programme, there is never actually a cut off point for the artists. I’d like to think of it more as a family where artists from previous years can call on us if they need support or a bit of funding or even just advice.

For the artists coming through the LIMF Academy, making it in the music industry is their dream and unfortunately it doesn’t work for everyone. This is the greatest challenge for me. It’s hard for people to put all their hopes on you to help them reach their dream and sometimes it’s beyond us.

Liverpool is recognised as a Music City, how would you describe the current status of the talent pool?

It’s really exciting to be involved in the music scene in Liverpool right now. Its evolving and great to see people mastering their craft in different genres from techno to folk to grime and pop – we are no longer a stereotypical indie band city and I think that really important for the growth of the music scene in Liverpool

Have you observed any changes in the emerging music scene since LIMF Academy began?

A big one for me has been the increase in female artists in Liverpool. We see over 200 people apply each year and it has developed from being predominately male to more of a 50/50 split. In 2017, for the first time our top three ‘most ready’ artists were all female. We have seen a massive increase in females applying to be a part of the LIMF Academy and it’s great that we can give them a platform to showcase and nurture their talent. It’s also encouraging and inspiring that younger artists see that there programmes and platforms for female artists in Liverpool.

What do you think are the key challenges for emerging artists?

It’s about direction for new artists – it’s a challenge for them to have a clear idea of who they are and where they are going. A lot of artists make great music but don’t have a clear identity.

I think it’s important for an artists to be comfortable in who they are and the music they are making before trying to conquer the music industry. I also think it’s important for artist not to get discouraged. There will be set backs and it won’t happen overnight, they need to stay motivated and maintain energy, drive and commitment.

What have been your personal highlights since running the Academy?

In 2015, LIMF Academy was recognised for its work at the UK Festival awards when we were named the Best Festival for Emerging Talent. This was a huge endorsement of the work that we do with talent in the city and a massive moment for me and the many artists that have come through the programme to achieve great things in the industry.

I also have to say that our annual orchestra collaboration is a real highlight. Each year, we work with LIMF Academy artists and the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra on a collaboration showcase which mergers multiple genres of music together. It’s a great opportunity for both the Academy artist and the youth orchestra to have an insight in to each other music worlds.

LIMF Academy artists will be performing on the City of Music Stage at this year’s LIMF 20/21 July.

For more information on the Academy, visit