If you have an idea for a music project that could help out people in your community, whether that’s struggling artists, or people in need of some music to brighten up their lives, you could get a £500 grant and the support you need to make it happen.

Want to get inspired? We caught up with Nick, Founder of Certified UK, a platform which showcases the best of the UK’s rising talent. Nick’s worked with artists like Shakka and Little Simz, but it all started when he applied for funding. We asked Nick how he took Certified UK from one man and his project, to a whole team and a huge platform that has become a multi-medium influencer…

Hi Nick, why did you start Certified UK?

“When I finished college I was ready to go to university and do media, but I wanted to get into what I wanted to do as soon as possible. I decided to go for the experience rather than the degree. I didn’t know what I was doing at first, so I started off working anywhere, at any retail job, but it was never challenging or motivating at all. I didn’t really like having a boss that wasn’t passionate or motivated themselves. Then I told the idea to a friend. She pushed me to start it and we started it together. I was watching other platforms and I thought ‘there are better people, a vocalist, or a rapper, or a producer, and they’ve never had the platform to share it, they haven’t been picked up by platforms’. So that’s why I started Certified UK. Then for a year straight my way of learning was experiencing things. I had to basically learn business, whilst running a business!”

Have any artists found success after featuring on your platform?

“I don’t like to say ‘we put them on, so they became big’, but I can definitely say that the platform has shined a light on them in a way that wasn’t getting shined before. I’d definitely say Sam Henshaw was one person. A lot of people knew about him after being on our channel, and another poet called Sofia Thakur. I feel like anyone that we’ve had, their platform gets bigger and it’s what they do with it. I would say every person is a success story!”

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Photo: Khevyn Ibrahim

You’ve gone from a small project, to having a huge team behind you. How did you make that transition?

“Yeah! The team are very passionate individuals that specialise in different areas. I always say that in life, you have to love what you’re doing or you’re not gonna do something properly. As soon as I contacted Go Think Big and they were able to make me a project leader, it showed me that there was a need for the platform. I learnt the team’s roles before I hired people. I wanted to know how a writer would feel, and how a social media manager can handle a situation, so I did all roles and understood what I needed. And what I didn’t know about, I wanted the person coming in to know about it, and know more!”

What’s next for Certified UK?

“With the success we’ve had this year we’re gonna be working with a lot of brands. We’re gonna be working with a lot of individuals, not just in the UK, but internationally, so people understand from other sides of the world that UK talent is not just what you’re being spoon-fed. There’s so much talent, so it’s something to check out. I just want to do as much as I can do and represent what I represent in terms of UK talent, culture and entertainment, and I wanna do it to the best of my ability.”

“As a young black man, I want to make sure that myself, my team and what I stand for inspires those that are thinking about chasing their dream to do so, and prove that there are people that actually believe in you!”

Why should people apply for a music grant?

“When you’re doing things, there’ll be times when there’ll be no support. So having Go Think Big in your corner is something that you wanna go and get. There’s no one out here giving you free money! You have to take every opportunity you’re given, and make sure it’s a smart opportunity. You don’t know what that £500 could do, that can change you for the better and give you that boost you need to take the next step!”

“Go Think Big have helped me personally with my project in many ways. We set up a new event exclusively with Go Think Big and a game company called NNESaga. I was able to have it at O2′s Think Big Hub, now I’m working with them in order to have the best possible event. I’m taking advice from them, and we’re working on ideas to make things better. These are people that I didn’t know when I first started, good networking is so key in order for you to be successful, so I try to use that as much as I can.”

“Stop procrastinating and just go and do it! I have so many conversations with people that say: ‘I see what you’re doing and I wanna do it too.’ It’s the most important thing to have faith in yourself.”

 If you want to follow in Nick’s footsteps and start a music-themed project, click here. 

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