The MOBO awards are now in their 23rd year. Kanya King CBE has built MOBO into one of the most important and influential platforms for music makers, young creatives and fans. She shares her growth business insights.
For more than two decades, the MOBO group, with its iconic awards, has been dedicated to finding and supporting new and exciting artists. It has grown into a powerful brand, especially among younger audiences.
MOBO is a voice for a large section of the community that can often feel disenfranchised. There is wasted talent out there: young creative people who may not be achieving academic success, but who have a steely determination to succeed and make a worthy contribution to their family, friends and country. It is our mission to provide a better and more diverse foundation, ensuring this talent isn’t wasted and creative arts can flourish and develop for the enrichment of the human race and the economies on which it depends.
MOBO has supported a vast selection of musical talent, giving them opportunities at the very start of their careers. This goes beyond the MOBO Awards platform. We’re also supporting emerging talent via our MOBO UnSung competition, offering life- changing opportunities such as a studio session with multiple MOBO Award winner, Craig David, and a songwriting masterclass with the musician behind many of Beyonce’s hits, Carla Marie Williams, alongside a broad range of educational workshops and performance opportunities. Then there is the MOBO Help Musicians Fund, which provides grants to aspiring musicians and producers to use in areas such as training, touring or promotion.
Even with a number of MOBO-supported artists experiencing chart success and mainstream attention, there’s still a large pool of artists who, without the MOBO platform, won’t be given the opportunity to reach a mainstream audience. The MOBO platforms celebrate a broad range of genres from jazz and gospel, to soul, RnB and reggae and hip hop, grime and African music. We put some 50+ MOBO Music nominees in the spotlight every year. Our role is to unlock the power of talent and creativity to inspire, uplift, educate and unify a global community of audiences, customers and producers.
It is more difficult for BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) entrepreneurs to obtain the support and funding they require to establish a business. Some minorities, especially those from a Black African and Caribbean heritage, are under-represented and may become stuck in the early stages of development.
It has never been more important to develop and support economic growth in this country; success will depend on developing the next generation of start-up businesses and SMEs. We are currently looking at exploring ways we can help aspiring entrepreneurs, especially women and those from BAME backgrounds, who might not otherwise get access to the support and funding they require.
Over the years, the industry has become more supportive of women. Today, there are a higher number of successful women in music, both as artists and in business. However, there is still much more that can be done. Female representation (both on and off stage) is not equal to male representation. At MOBO, we have always championed and celebrated female role models as well, while creating opportunities to address this imbalance. In recent years, we have seen a higher percentage of women enter our talent development programme, whether via MOBO UnSung (34% of this year’s entrants are female), the MOBO Help Musicians Fund or our MOBO LTC Fellowships.
Creating a successful business
There are no shortcuts in business - success is about the relentless pursuit of your goals. I found the path to success started with the understanding that it required determination and dedication to get what I wanted. Your business plan should allow you to stay true to your idea but help you to focus on the details, then remain flexible enough to zoom in and out on the vital aspects of your enterprise as your business grows.
For every entrepreneur, whatever needs to be done must get done. This takes self- discipline and energy and you won’t meet a successful entrepreneur who doesn’t have this energy and drive. It is important to have this self-belief, perseverance and clear goals in order to overcome obstacles and aspire to greater things. And if I had to relive my business journey again, I would make the same mistakes, only a lot sooner!
Starting a business can be daunting, exciting, frustrating, demoralising, liberating and terrifying all at once. As such, a mentor can be utterly invaluable. Equally, there are many networking opportunities out there - take advantage of them and there will be a wealth of expert knowledge at your disposal.
I know how hard it can be to start, run and grow your own business and admire anyone who has the stamina and drive to make a difference via their entrepreneurial ventures. We work with many established brands and partners but also feel it’s important to give support to smaller, up-and-coming and independent brands – many of whom we hosted at the MOBO Awards - providing them access to talent while raising awareness of their brand.
We could have kept MOBO purely as the Awards but wanted to achieve more and evolve into new areas to make a bigger contribution to society. With that in mind, MOBO has naturally progressed to become a brand with a much broader reach than just music. In recent years, we have moved out into film, theatre and television and are looking forward to seeing where the brand will go next. This will certainly include entrepreneurship, career and educational opportunities.
By necessity, this briefing can only provide a short overview and it is essential to seek professional advice before applying the contents of this article. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. Details correct at time of publication.