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Welcome to our brand new monthly spotlight feature NE Represent – promoting the work of the women and gender minorities leading the North East’s music industry.

For our very first feature and International Women’s Day special, we are so excited to welcome professional music publicist and artist manager Nicola Coaker. Nicola is also the founder of North East record label and music education provider Nrthrn Baby – an organisation that offers support to the next wave of creatives to help them navigate the music industry.

Check out our interview with Nicola below!



Thank you so much for being our very first NE Represent feature! Can you tell us about your journey in the music industry so far?

It’s been a long one! I’ve always loved music, specifically the UK rap and R&B scene and realised this from quite a young age. I started my own music blog from my bedroom in Middlesbrough at the age of around 14/15 and then managed to somehow secure a drivetime radio show at a community radio station when I was around 17. Although looking back, I never realised how much talent their was around me in the North East! I then moved to London for university and just began grafting 24/7. I began writing for an online blog called UK Grime that opened a lot of doors for me, I went backstage at BBC Radio 1Xtra Live and interviewed Not3s, Big Shaq, DJ Semtex, DJ Target etc. From this, I interned at Westside Radio as a radio producer and co-presenter on a show called UK FULLSTOP alongside Krish who at the time worked at GRM Daily and a major label, and Krash who was an editor at 4Music. These two really pushed me to step out of my comfort zone and I really owe a lot to them! At the same time as this I was also writing for GRM Daily and that really felt like a key moment for me given that it’s the UK’s leading rap music platform, I met so many people in the industry and ended up working with brands such as adidas. Then I secured an internship at Lucid Publicity working with artists like Pip Millett, Tion Wayne, Russ Millions and Erick The Architect. Jak and Karim at Lucid were so amazing during my time there and I went on to be a junior publicist and then a senior publicist within a couple of years, thanks to their confidence in me. And finally, here we are with Nrthrn Baby. I moved back to the North East around two years ago and have never looked back. My role varies day to day from an artist manager, to a record label owner to a publicist and strategist; I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world.


Can you tell us about the work you do in the North East music scene

I run Nrthrn Baby which originally started as a music management agency but has since gone on to run as a record label. We have a roster of amazingly talented artists all of which are from the North East and also work with external artists to help them across marketing, PR and release plans. We also run community driven workshops to inspire the younger generation to explore careers within the music industry. So far we’ve teamed up with the likes of North Tyneside Council, Newcastle University and Stockton Council to deliver these. I also really want to be active in bridging the gap between the North East music scene and the London music industry. We helped organise two North East cyphers on Link Up TV, scheduled a workshop with international retailer Kick Game and have so much more in the pipeline! I could honestly go on forever as there seems to be so many arms of Nrthrn Baby at the minute, it really just depends on what day it is.


What advice would you give to a woman or gender minority who’s looking to work in the music industry?

Be selfish, but not in a take things from people way, more in a self care way. I’ve learnt this the hard way in the past few months through a few different scenarios and I’m really trying to become more selfish with my time, priorities and business decisions. There’s been many times where men that I’ve worked with have took the p*ss a bit, speaking to me in a way that I know would never happen if I was a man, or even expecting me to do things for free because they think I don’t know my value – I think that as women it can be difficult but gut instinct starts to kick in and we should always trust our gut. Also, be confident and don’t be afraid to speak up.


What would you like to see change in the music industry around gender equity?

Women being paid properly and respected more for their contributions, and I think this will come with both external sources and women themselves. I and other women around me often fall victim to undervaluing ourselves and our work, and I think that there needs to be more transparency within the music industry for us to truly understand our worth, and therefore not be underpaid.

I also think it’s important for me to recognise my privilege as a white woman, I will never be able to understand the struggles that those of the BAME community experience, and I think it’s super important that we create more opportunities for those who identify as Black or an Ethnic Minority.


Can you tell us about your future plans with Nrthrn Baby? We really admire all the work you’ve done already.
Thank you so much!! We have so many plans and so many ideas. Right now our main focus is developing our roster of talent, expanding our network and creating more opportunities for artists in the North East. If we’re eating, I want everyone else to eat too. Ideally (speaking this into existence) I would love to partner with a major label to give more artists and industry professionals the chance to make music their full time career.


Give a shout out to a woman or gender minority doing mint work in the North East music community!

Ah there’s too many! Of course I have to say Sisi, my music industry daughter haha. Frankie Jobling is absolutely smashing it, obsessed with her new song and Ellie Scougall who’s doing amazing things with her new podcast Inside The USB.

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