Are you a female or non-binary musician? APRA AMCOS are giving you the chance to be mentored by an industry veteran for free

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Are you a female or non-binary musician? APRA AMCOS are giving you the chance to be mentored by an industry veteran for free

Ngaiire is one of the potential mentors for the APRA AMCOS 23% Mentorship Program. Credit: Dan Segal

APRA AMCOS’ 23% Mentorship program offers female and non-binary musicians the chance to be mentored by some of the best musicians in the industry.

Applications are open now for APRA AMCOS’ 23% Mentorship program, giving the opportunity for female and non-binary musicians to be mentored by an industry veteran for free.

“I think first and foremost it was the little pep of validation I needed,” Canberra singer-songwriter and 2020 mentee Lucy Sugerman says of her time in the APRA AMCOS 23% Mentorship Program. “Having just gotten out of a record deal and [having] just turned 18, with limited connections in the industry, it was really motivating to hear [that] someone like Julian McGruther (my mentor) had connected with my music and what I was doing.” Sugerman, who released her perfectly titled EP last year spiralling (over discourse on the internet), was able to get a head start on her music career thanks to the mentorship program, which is open now to budding female and non-binary musicians looking for a foot in the door of the industry.

“The 23% Mentorship really provided a safe and guided space for me to learn more about the industry. It was empowering and exciting, and I felt very supported throughout,” Sugerman says. “I realise this can be quite rare in the music industry now in hindsight, so I feel very grateful to have had access to that time and resources, particularly as someone living in a more ‘regional’ city with very limited connections to the Australian music industry at the time.”

APRA AMCOS’ 23% Mentorship Program

  • Aimed at female and non-binary musicians wanting to kick-start their career
  • Mentees are paired with an industry professional mentor
  • Applications are open now, close Friday May 10 at 5pm AEST

Keep up with the latest music news, festivals, interviews and reviews here.

APRA AMCOS’ Creative Programs and Sponsorship Manager Bella Morris-Clarke, who is overseeing the 23% Mentorship program this year, says that providing pathways into the music industry for those who might otherwise be without them is what the program is all about. “The 23% Mentorship is aimed at our emerging female, non-binary and gender non-conforming APRA members,” Morris-Clarke says. “But we also try to make sure within that community we’re reaching people from diverse backgrounds, regional areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music creators. This program at its core is about uplifting the smaller areas of our membership.”

Formally known as the Women in Music Mentorship Program, the program has had a name change for 2024’s edition.

Why “23% Mentorship”?


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Because, Morris-Clarke explains, “The APRA AMCOS membership is comprised of just 23% women, non-binary or non-identified music creators. Even when that number inevitably increases it is a reminder of why we created it.”

Applications for the program are open as of now and will close on Friday May 10 at 5pm AEST, with 14 places available for prospective mentees. Along with a mentor to help guide them toward a valuable pathway for their musical careers, each mentee will also receive $3,000 toward projects or work-related expenses and/or travel. The mentorship program runs over a three-month period, ideally from June to August 2024, but the dates can work around availability if need be. “Over that time,” Morris-Clarke says, “we expect the mentors and mentees to meet a minimum of six times with at least one of those being an in-person meet up.”

Sugerman praises the program for giving her the guidance to learn about building the foundation blocks in her career as an artist, developing things like her visual and musical identity as an artist – the kind of things that it’s difficult to know how to do without a veteran there to show you how. It also allowed Sugerman the motivational push she needed, giving her things like “accountability and a more concrete timeline on tasks”. “When you’re self-managed,” she says, “it can be difficult to stay on track with your own development.”

The program for Sugerman wasn’t just about how to make incredibly catchy earworms and beautifully-written melodies; she also was able to learn from her mentor about all the back end of the music biz and the importance of the business side of things. “It was my first foray into understanding how music distribution and release really worked, and everything about those experiences has poured into my various professional endeavours in music now. I still go back to our release checklist for my debut track even now.”

How to apply

In terms of applying for the program, Sugerman advises that “it’s all about explaining why an opportunity like this is time-sensitive to your career.” Also, she says, “Having a tangible goal you want to achieve and demonstrating that (i.e. putting out your first single) in your application is always really helpful.” Once the applications are closed and considered, Morris-Clarke says that she’s then “the person to let successful mentees know they have been selected and introducing them to their mentor,” adding, “It is without a doubt the best part of my job!”

Once successful applicants join the program, mentees will get to have one face-to-face meeting with their mentor, as well as at least five other meetings in person or via phone, video or email. Other than that, the way in which the mentees want the mentorship to work is left ultimately up to them. Sugerman suggests preparing questions before every mentoring session, as well as not being afraid to be “super proactive”. “My other advice is to have a list of non-negotiables for your creative work and your career (i.e. I want to own my masters, or I want to make sure I’m always getting XYZ% of my revenue).”

There are 14 mentorships available between an Australia APRA member and an industry professional, as well as mentorships for members located in the UK, Europe and North America. The way in which mentees and mentors are paired up is based on career stage, goal focus and priorities, as opposed to the genre of music of the artists. Morris-Clarke says of the industry professionals involved in the program, “We have never been short of amazing mentors. There are people from all areas of the music industry who put their hands up to share their time and expertise.”

A plethora of success stories

Including Sugerman, there’s been a plethora of success stories from the 23% Mentorship program. Artists like Annie Hamilton, Eliza HullBVTdameeeela and Telenova’s Angeline Armstrong are just a few of the stand-out musicians who have gone on from the mentorship program to have incredible careers in the music industry. Some of the music professionals that will be mentoring in the program this year include Kristy Lee PetersJannah BethClaire Collins and Harry White.

Ultimately, “The 23% Mentorship is one of our most important programs because it is actively working to address the gender imbalance in the music industry by giving fair opportunities for work and uplifting this community of music creators to go on to build sustainable careers in the industry,” Morris-Clarke says. “Programs like this are so important because we know that equity, equality and diversity only add to a thriving and successful music industry which is beneficial for us all.”

Find out more and apply for the 23% Mentorship here.

This article was made in partnership with APRA AMCOS.