Six months after launching, Mayor’s Artist of the Month winners share how the initiative has supported them
music Culture The Mayor

Six months in, Mayor’s Artist of the Month winners share how initiative has helped them

  • Artist of the Month launched with BBC Radio Manchester and the Greater Manchester Music Commission in January to promote new and unsigned artists from across the city-region
  • Winning artists supported with opportunities to play at iconic venues in Greater Manchester, including Co-op Live – the biggest indoor arena in Europe – in 2024
  • Sixteen-year-old singer songwriter Alex Spencer crowned Artist of the Month by Mayor Andy Burnham, becoming sixth act to take the title
  • 148 music acts have applied in the first six months
  • Find out more and enter a nomination at

MAYOR of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham has recently named his sixth Artist of the Month, adding another name to the bill of acts set to play the UK’s biggest indoor arena next year.

Every month, the Mayor announces a new music act from or based in Greater Manchester as his Artist of the Month and plays one of their tracks live on BBC Radio Manchester, during his weekly Hot Seat phone-in show. The aim is to help shine a spotlight on the best new and emerging talent and showcase the breadth and depth of Greater Manchester’s thriving and diverse music scene.

All winners are offered a slot to perform at Co-op Live – the UK’s biggest indoor arena – in 2024 as well as support and advice from the Greater Manchester Music Commission which is made up of music artists, labels, venues, and industry leaders.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “It’s so great to hear the positive impact the Artist of the Month initiative is having on some of our city-region’s finest up and coming musical talent.

“In Greater Manchester, our music scene is unrivalled and the talent we have here simply needs to be showcased as much as possible and that is what this is all about. Music is a huge part of our culture here and I want to do all I can to help our artists succeed.

“Since launching Artist of the Month, we have had 148 applications across a broad range of different genres and the standard is seriously impressive. All winners will be offered the chance to play at Co-op Live and there will be support from our experts in the Greater Manchester Music Commission. I urge all artists to apply on our website and I can’t wait to listen to your music.”

Andrew Bowman BBC Radio Manchester Executive Editor said:

"At BBC Radio Manchester we’re delighted to be able to showcase and celebrate the very best new talent in Greater Manchester with the Artist of the Month feature and also in our BBC Introducing and Upload programmes. We know how much talent there is and it’s fantastic that our listeners get to hear new and emerging performers and artists from here."

  • Sixteen-year-old Alex Spencer was the Mayor’s pick in June month, with his latest song One Way Ticket gaining airplay on BBC Radio Manchester. He was chosen from a shortlist that also included Greater Manchester acts Pavé and SPIN KLASS.

Alex Spencer said: “I'm so grateful to Andy and the team at Greater Manchester Music Commission for choosing me as Artist of the Month. It’s amazing, especially so early in my career and the fact that there’s so many brilliant artists/bands in Greater Manchester. 

“I met Andy a few years back when I was about 13, while busking on Market Street. He has been really supportive ever since, occasionally retweeting my music on his social page. There’s some big names from the music industry on the Music Commission so to be chosen as Artist of the Month is an honour. The promotion and publicity around Manchester really helps me to reach out to people who probably wouldn’t have heard of me, and hopefully they will like my music and even maybe come to one of my gigs! It would be a dream come true to play at Co-op Live. It’s going to be an amazing venue.”

Alex Spencer joins a growing list of exciting artists to have taken the title so far this year:

  • Upbeat R&B duo Hope and Millie Katana, AKA The KTNA, were named the inaugural Artist of the Month in January. They have the unique claim of being the only group to have a song played by BBC Political Editor Chris Mason on the Newscast podcast.

The KTNA said: “Being chosen as Andy Burnham’s Artist of the Month was such an honour. Not only did it mean a lot to us to be championed by our Mayor, but all the support we received after from our city was amazing. People reached out to us from all sorts of different organisations in Manchester asking to work with us and how they could help. It helped us network with the wider scene in Manchester, and for that we are extremely grateful to Andy and his team.”

  • Singer-songwriter Lois Rae became the second Artist of the Month in February.

Lois Rae said: “To be named Andy’s Artist of the Month in February was an incredible recognition of my musical journey and the initiative is a testament to the city's vibrant support for local talent. Since featuring as AOTM, my latest single RADAR has been featured on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 1Xtra and I’ve also been featured in CLASH magazine. I have also been able to make valuable connections and branch out as a songwriter for other artists in the community which has been incredibly rewarding. I’m grateful to Andy and the wider team for cultivating this community to provide opportunities for artists like me, and it’s a privilege to sit alongside so many talented up and coming Manchester artists.”

  • Alt-pop fourpiece Hi Sienna took the title in March.

Hi Sienna said: “Being named Artist of the Month was (and still is) an incredible feeling – not only to be recognised by Andy and BBC Radio Manchester, but to have our music put in front of new ears and the exposure it gave us was absolutely mega! It really helped give us a boost in streams on our single, ‘Power’, and definitely helped us gain some amazing credibility, as shortly after we got confirmed for four festivals including Tramlines, Truck Festival, YNot and Bingley Weekender! We're so excited to be prepping for festivals and will be releasing our debut, self-titled EP this summer. Thanks Andy and BBC Radio Manchester!”

  • Synth-folk artist Test Card Girl was April’s Artist of the Month.

Test Card Girl said: “Having started my music career during lockdown (and well into my 30s), opportunities to reach new audiences and find wider exposure for your music don’t come along very often. It can feel, however much you believe in your music and what you want to put out into the world, that you are a drop in the ocean amongst hundreds of musicians - some of whom have a much better grasp of social media than me! Having a baby in October compounded this feeling, and I was struggling to see how I could keep writing, producing and gigging with this new responsibility. I received the message about being chosen as Andy Burnham’s Artist of the Month for April during a particularly long and difficult car journey with my little one, and it was such a huge confidence boost to be championed by someone who is committed to Manchester and to music and the arts. I was truly thrilled, and it gave me the motivation to get out there and start gigging again. I’d encourage any artist looking to reach new audiences to apply for the Artist of the Month - it takes five minutes and it’s opened up a whole world of new opportunities for me to do what I love.”

  • Indie outfit Good for Gordon made repeat appearances on the shortlist before becoming Artist of the Month in May.

Good for Gordon said: “Winning Artist of the Month has made a massive difference, mainly in increasing our confidence, knowing that our music is heard and appreciated, especially by Andy who we all know is a huge music fan.

“We’re big fans of what Andy does for the city, and for him to go above and beyond by giving our first single a shout out and a spin has really brightened our year. Although we’ve been played on BBC Radio Stoke, this was our debut play on BBC Radio Manchester - and what a way to land it. We’ve noticed a spike in our streams on Spotify and we’re crazy looking forward to representing his Artist of the Month  scheme further in the near future.”

All new and emerging acts from Greater Manchester are eligible to enter if they meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a new or emerging music artist
  • Must be based in Greater Manchester
  • Must have recorded music that can be shared via link to a song on a streaming service
  • Must be aged 16 or over, or have the permission of a parent or guardian to submit a nomination
  • Submissions may be entered on behalf of artists but must have the permission of all those being nominated.

Entries will be reviewed by the Greater Manchester Music Commission and the final decision will be made personally by the Mayor. The next winner will be announced on BBC Radio Manchester on Thursday 27 July.

To read more or to enter visit Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s website.

Article Published: 25/07/2023 09:57 AM