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Talent Development Focus: Come Play With Me

Giving a different perspective on the 'New Year, New Me' slogan we all hear at this time of year, over the coming months we will be focusing on all things Talent Development, speaking to some of the great organisations across the UK about their brilliant work.

Kicking off this focus, we spoke to Leeds-based Come Play With Me and asked them who they are, what they do, and what’s coming up.

Hey CPWM! Tell us about your Talent Development Organisation?


Come Play With Me (CPWM) is a not-for-profit based out of Leeds that looks to support people locally into sustainable careers in music. We’re best known for our split 7” vinyl singles club and a bunch of stuff we do to encourage under-represented people into music – the tag line is ‘not just for the straight white beardy boys playing guitars’! We’re also a part of the newly-formed Yorkshire Music Forum, a collective of 5 Yorkshire-based artist development organisations.



What urged you to start Come Play With Me?

We set up in late 2015 and it was really in response to me running a label and repeatedly meeting young guys/gals who were clearly ridiculously talented but struggling lots to support themselves. They’d often get to a point in life where they were struggling with the challenges of a freelance musician’s lifestyle and would be considering jacking music in so we came up with the idea of CPWM to see where we could help.



What have you been up to over recent years?


We’ve released 12 split 7”s so far from mainly emerging artists in/around Leeds (Team Picture, ZoZo, The Golden Age Of TV, Mansion Of Snakes, Dead Naked Hippies etc.) and dropped in some slightly more established names here and there (Cinerama (The Wedding Present), Katie Harkin (Sky Larkin) and Her Name Is Calla.) We support the artists along the way with the release and have also released a couple of compilation CDs with all of this available digitally. We promote gigs locally with the odd one around the country, sometimes to promote the releases and other times just to promote the musicians we are working with. Everything is always cross-genre and we’ll work with whoever is creating the best music and has an appetite to promote themselves with us right now.

Most of the artists we work with are selected by a panel of independent judges from public call-outs that we do every few months. We did our first one these live earlier in the year with judges that included Roisin O’Connor (Independent) and Abbie McCarthy (BBC Intro/Radio 1.)

We also do a bunch of activities to understand what musicians need help with most (What Musicians Want) and encourage people into music careers that are currently under-represented – our Women In Music and LGBTQ The Music events included panels, workshops, performances and speakers to engage different folks into music. We also ran a new all-day festival in Leeds and Sheffield recently called HerFest (Stealing Sheep & She Drew The Gun headlining) in conjunction with a gender rebalance project (Both Sides Now) from Manchester and a new all-female local PR firm (Her Music PR.)
We piloted a mentoring project last year – not just for musicians but for anyone that was looking for a career in music. Mentees included folks wanting to set up labels, PR firms, promoters and of course a few musicians. Finally we’ve very recently proudly launched our first magazine ‘Come Play With’ which was intended to shy away from 140 character reviews / previews of latest albums / gigs etc. and to commission some good quality writing alongside looking at the issues that musicians were really facing – inc. mental health, fundraising, audience development etc.

What’s coming up for you this year?

Where to start?! We’ve got a new release coming in late Jan which will be our first split with another label – this time a Japanese label and band that we’re very excited to be working alongside. The next few singles are lined up (mainly because vinyl pressing times can be slow!) and there’ll be lots more of the above – showcase gigs, compilation CDs and curated events with partners that we really admire around the country. A little later in the year there will definitely be another HerFest and LGBTQ The Music event too…..keep up via our socials (T/F: @comeplaywith)

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