YOUNG musicians from a North-East community arts hub enjoyed an exclusive behind-the-scenes visit to one of the music industry’s most important locations.

Four members from The Forum Song Club Sessions, in Darlington, visited Sony Music Entertainment’s London headquarters to see for themselves how the industry takes talented people and helps share their music with the world.

Young musicians Ria Robinson, Ruby Watkins, James Appleton, and Adam Daniel were selected from among thousands of similar youth programmes from all over the country.

Accompanied by one of the Song Club’s mentors – local singer-songwriter Hayley McKay – they were treated to a tour of the Japanese label’s UK operations in a trip organised by the Lottery Community Fund.

Drummer Ria Robinson said: “We learned a lot about how songs get into the charts, and how they get played on the radio. I never really thought about it all before, but we now know how much effort goes into promoting music.

“There’s more to it than just being an artist out on your own – they’ve all got whole teams behind them.”

The visit came in the wake of The Forum’s success at the recent Love Darlo awards, where they won the title of Best Arts and Leisure Business.

Hayley said: “A number of groups were selected to take part in the visit, and our artists were easily the youngest there.

“This was a great opportunity for them, and I was very impressed by the way they conducted themselves, and took full advantage of this chance to peek behind the curtain of the music industry.”

The Song Club Sessions, which is supported by Youth Music UK, gives young people in Darlington an opportunity to perform together and develop their skills with support from experienced industry professionals.

Ruby Watkins, an aspiring guitarist, said: “I didn’t realise how important networking is in the music industry. Knowing people who know the industry is so important – we’re lucky we’ve got Hayley”

  • For more information on the Song Club Sessions, contact The Forum on 01325 363135, or visit