Brighter Sound: Both Sides Now Commission Information

Temi Salau

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Brighter Sound
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Information for our latest commission to write new music that explores what it means to be connected, disconnected and reconnected in today’s world…

“Never have we had this much time to think, and reflect and process what we’re feeling inside.”

The final announcement in our ‘Let’s Reconnect’ season invites artists to explore the impact of the pandemic on our creativity and wellbeing. 

We’re looking for two artists – one from Northern England and one from outside England – to collaborate and write new tracks that respond to these themes.

A co-commission with Library Live, Manchester, this opportunity is open to women and gender minorities as part of our Both Sides Now programme.

To support the creative process, selected artists will receive mentoring from award winning artist Ray BLK, who is known for her groundbreaking, no-holds barred lyrics and willingness to address difficult topics, both on and off the mic.

What’s involved

  • A fee of £2,000 per artist
  • Three mentoring sessions with Ray BLK
  • 1:1 health consultation with British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) professionals, covering all aspects of a musician’s health, including mental health and wellbeing
  • A budget to present the work – this could be a socially distant live performance, a streamed gig, a music video, or something else entirely

The creative brief

Between January and March 2021, you will collaborate online to create 4-6 tracks (or about 20-30 mins of music) using Ray BLK’s words as a starting point:

“The pandemic has affected so many of us in so many ways, but one of the biggest impacts has been on our mental health. Never have we had this much time to think, and reflect and process what we’re feeling inside. As an artist who is so used to being busy performing, travelling and being active, it’s been quite a shock. It has made me question myself so much, question my purpose, my talent, and my worth, particularly as someone who lives alone. I’ve found this time very isolating, which only exacerbates my low days. Online discussions and statistics in the news have shown that more than ever, people are struggling with their mental health, and those who have mental health conditions are at serious risk during this time. As artists we should be reflecting the times. I’m interested in opening up honest conversations about the thoughts and feelings in our head, how we manage them and what keeps us going in testing times.”

We recognise that this is a very personal and pertinent topic, with the current climate bringing uncertainty to many independent musicians. There is no expectation for individuals to share personal experiences within their applications, and we will treat each one with sensitivity and respect. Further information and support for musicians can be found on Help Musicians UK’s Music Minds Matter.

Who can apply

  • Musicians and artists of any background, discipline or genre with a strong track record of writing, producing and performing, and a growing online presence
  • People aged 18+ (there is no upper age limit!)
  • Women and people from other gender minorities – we use an inclusive definition of the words ‘women’ and ‘female’, welcoming participants who may identify as non-binary, gender non-conforming, cis-gendered, or trans

We’re passionate about strengthening the North of England’s international connections. For this reason, we are looking to commission:

  • One artist from or based in Northern England
  • One artist based outside of England 

How to apply

Please complete an online application form* by Wed 13 Jan 2021, midday.

You’ll be asked some personal details along with the following questions:

  1. Tell us a bit about you, your music and your career to date
  2. Why are you interested in taking part in this commission, and what do you hope to gain?
  3. What are your initial thoughts around the creative brief? You can also include any ideas you have on how you’d like to present your music (e.g. live stream, video)


If you’d prefer to answer these questions in video format (max. 3 mins per question), please click the link below. You’ll be asked for some personal details, and we’ll then give you instructions on how to send us your video submission.


*If you have any specific access needs relating to the application process, or the work itself, please contact or 0161 546 5334.

More information

For an up-to-date list of FAQs please click here.

If you have any other questions please email our Both Sides Now Programme Manager Lucy at

Our offices will be closed for the Christmas break from Fri 18 Dec – Mon 11 Jan 2021. If you have any questions during this time please send us an email, and we’ll be back in touch when we reopen.

This is a co-commission between Brighter Sound and Library Live, Manchester as part of Brighter Sound’s gender equality programme Both Sides Now.

Library Live is Manchester Central Library’s cultural programme, where unexpected, sociable and stimulating things happen. From film nights, gigs and live performances to author readings, talks and creative courses, Library Live features a real assortment of events, blending the traditional with the unconventional. In the iconic setting of Manchester Central Library, the inspiring architecture and ambience, help create a different kind of cultural experience, which is unique to Library Live. With big open doors, lots of free events and many different spaces to discover and explore, Library Live is for everyone. 

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