Looking Back, Looking Forward reflects on accomplishments and setbacks of our W4M members during 2020 – imagining what the year ahead brings for musicians and for young people.

This is Jo’s year…

This year hasn’t been what I’d imagined it would be. I can probably speak for the nation when I say that. Come to think of it, I don’t suppose anyone could have imagined this year, unless in the context of writing a particularly harrowing dystopian novel…

In December last year, I took a leap of faith and with a heavy heart, left a job that had given me my start in the industry. TaP Music took me on before I had even graduated, and I had a chaotic but hugely rewarding 18 months with them, up the steepest learning curve you could imagine.

I’d had a number of job offers since joining them, but this one in particular seemed perfect. Perhaps too good to be true. As I left the TaP office on my very last day, sure enough, there was an email in my inbox saying exactly that; the needs of the new company had changed, and I was no longer needed.

My head span, and it continued to spin as I got on a flight to Australia for a month to find a bit of headspace and consider my next move. I strongly considered packing the music dream in. On my return, I found some temporary contract work, which gave me three months. If nothing had presented itself by March, I thought, I’ll pack in the music dream. I was considering training to be a teacher, or going back to university. It was a real low, but as I like to believe is often the case, the perfect door eventually opened.

I consider myself incredibly lucky to have landed on my feet in the Music division of YMU Group at the end of March. Yep, just as we went into lockdown! As of last week, I have finally met all of my colleagues in person, after 9 months in the company! It’s the most amazing, accomplished, forward-thinking company, with the loveliest people and an inspiring attitude to client-first creative thinking. I have a split role that sees me working across the artist side, from established stars to hugely exciting development projects, and also on the writer/producer side looking after two talented topliners and a fantastic producer. Quite honestly, it’s the dream.

As we head into 2021, I actually have a pretty positive outlook on the year ahead. I appreciate that this comes from a place of huge privilege and that for many, it has been an unbelievably tough year – but I feel like this year has been a real opportunity for the industry to gain a little humanity, and I believe that it will be a much more tolerant and understanding industry for young people going into it in the future, not to mention the considerable strides the industry is finally making towards understanding the importance of diversity. Let’s face it, the only way is up from here!

– Jo Howarth

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