Recruiting young members: where to find them!

Our research into engaging under 35 year olds in music groups pointed to a need for better outreach and publicity. Young people might not be specifically looking for a group to join, or might not be aware of groups in their area. So instead of waiting for them to find you, go to where they are! But where might they be? Here are a few ideas to get you started.

1. Go to local businesses and offices

Most offices will have a fair number of under 35s amongst their staff. Try the following:

  • Take in flyers to pin by the kettle to advertise that you’re recruiting members.
  • Have a workplace ‘special offer’. Eg for the first term, two people from the same workplace can join for the price of one, or three for the price of two. Offer them a free taster session to lure them in.
  • Talk to the HR department about the well-documented effects of singing on team building (for example, this research from Oxford University in 2015) and persuade them to promote your ‘2 for 1’ offer.
  • Can you offer them a free (or heavily subsidised?) singing workshop as part of a staff team building day or as a fun thing on their staff away day/Christmas party?

2. Get in contact with your local Music Education Hub

Music Education Hubs have a responsibility for providing music education to 5-18 year olds. Part of this responsibility includes to 'ensure that clear progression routes are available and affordable to all young people'

  • Does your local Music Education Hub know about you? You could be helping them to provide progression routes to young musicians in their area, and this is part of their core role.
  • Your local hub may be able to signpost you to local youth music groups (up to age 18). Think about collaborating with a local youth music group to put on a joint performance/joint workshop so that members of the youth group know who you are.
  • What is your local hub telling those leaving the education system about further music-making activities in their community? Can they signpost to your group? Would they give you a slot at their end of year concert so you can showcase what you do?
  • Making Music can support you to find and make contact with your local Music Education Hub, or you can find your local Hub by using this search tool on the Music Mark website

3.  What about your local university/college?

Could you make contact with music groups at the university and put on a collaborative event? Students and universities are often keen to interact with communities outside the ‘university bubble’.

There may be students who graduate and stay on in the same town, but have to leave the university music group and are looking for a new one to join, so if they know about your group, they are more likely to join you after graduating.

Also, there isn’t necessarily a university ensemble or space in one for every student wanting to sing or play – but do they know what exists outside, in the city?

4. Perform in a public place

If all your performances are tucked away in ticketed venues, you are limiting the number of people who will accidentally find out about you. Taking inspiration from some of the venues where Make Music Day events take place, what about putting on a performance somewhere a bit more unusual? How about:

  • A train station foyer (catch young people on the commute to or from work)
  • A shopping centre
  • A street market
  • In a park
  • In a hospital foyer
  • In an office foyer

Make sure before you head out that you have flyers and/or banners on hand so people know who you are.

And make sure you are explicit about inviting people to join your group – otherwise people might end up just thinking 'that sounded nice' and not make the connection with joining your group themselves.

5. Take part in Make Music Day

Make Music Day is an annual international celebration of music making, taking place on 21 June, with lots of opportunities to get out and about and surprise people with pop-up performances where they might not be expecting them.

Band stands, parks, train stations and buses are all up for grabs. These are all places where unsuspecting members of the public may stumble upon your group. The Make Music Day UK website has a whole host of marketing tools available to help you promote your event.

This is an annual event, always on 21 June, so if you missed 2017’s, you can get planning for 2018 now!

See more tips on recruiting younger members

We hope you find this Making Music resource useful. If you have any comments or suggestions about the guidance please contact us. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the content of this guidance is accurate and up to date, Making Music do not warrant, nor accept any liability or responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the content, or for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in it.