The music industry is a tough beast to crack.
For every successful recording contract there is a long line of talented musicians still working tirelessly to turn the heads of record label executives.
One enthusiastic singer-songwriter is not letting the tough climb faze her and is more determined than ever to get herself recognised above her peers and competition.
Charlotte Lily, from South Ribble, has been playing guitar and writing songs since the age of 12, teaching herself everything she knows with a cheap-as-chips acoustic guitar.
Seven years later, the Lostock Hall-born musician is now equipped with a professional Taylor piece, with aspirations that go well beyond playing and recording music just for the fun of it, having achieved one of the holy grails of unsigned artists in getting noticed by the BBC Introducing programme.
The former Lostock Hall Academy student, who now lives in Penwortham, said: “I remember hearing about the BBC Introduction scheme and so I sent in my song Henri’s Song which was the played on BBC Radio Lancashire.
“I said to my mum that this is the moment that I am going to step up my efforts. The dream is now to get on to BBC Radio 1 and see where we can go from there.”
Charlotte’s passion for and dedication to music has been heavily influenced from her experiences in the United States, where she, her parents, and brother lived in Orlando, Florida, for a year when Charlotte was 13.
Charlotte said: “Living in the USA was a huge influence on my musical interests and taste.
“I still remember going to the House of Blues in Orlando to see one of my favourite singer-songwriters, Colbie Caillat.
“It was there I said ‘I want to perform on that stage’. I still hope to this day to be singing there one day.”
As well as Colbie, Charlotte has drawn influence from acoustic guitar driven country rock musicians Nina Nesbit and Taylor Swift.
And whilst some people have told Charlotte that her country pop songs are ‘too serious’ at times, she is staying true to her original writing style.
Charlotte said: “Whilst I do have happy and uplifting songs, I’m writing about my own experiences; whether that’s my love life, my experiences in the music industry, or wider events that have happened in society.”
In the aftermath of the Manchester Arena bombing on May 22, Charlotte put together a heartwarming tribute called Sky.
She said: “I didn’t do it for any other reason than the song came to me and I felt people might want to hear it.”
The tributed followed her original song I Miss You, written about and dedicated to her grandfather who had been suffering from a serious illness.
And speaking of family, the support of loved ones can be crucial in helping fulfil aspirations, which for Charlotte has been no problem thanks to the constant backing of mum Carolyn and dad John.
After recording her debut EP Mountains earlier this year, dad John presented Charlotte with the ability to shoot a more adventerous music video for song Lose You.
Charlotte said: “I record all my music videos myself, which can be really tough.
“My dad surprised me by taking me to Norway to film my music video in the snowy mountains.
“Everyone is so supportive in what I want to do. My dad has seen how far I’ve come and is loving it.”
Charlotte’s second (and currently untitled) EP is set for a winter 2017 release and just like with the first EP, is being recorded, edited and assembled together single-handedly and to a very high standard.
“I do it all myself,” Charlotte said. “My parents keep saying ‘just think what it could sound like with a production team behind it’.”
University beckons for the talented performer and whilst many students starting their courses can find the experience daunting, Charlotte sees it as a stepping stone to make her aspirations even more of a reality, with her degree in music production at the University of Central Lancashire providing her with improved resources that are necessary to keep progressing.
She said: “I’m hopefully going to be able to record some of my music on their equipment as well as meet new people in the industry so we can all help each other going forward in what we want to do.”
Once graduated, Charlotte plans to start a postgraduate programme in teaching.
Charlotte said: “Hopefully I can gain a recording contract in my three years at UCLan but if not, I want to train as a music teacher.
“If I can’t be a professional singer-songwriter I want to work in the music industry regardless.”
For now Charlotte will continue working hard, performing throughout Lancashire at venues and through busking, something she loves.
“Busking is brilliant,” Charlotte said. “No one knows who I am so the people who stop are stopping because they want to listen to my songs.
“I recently had a woman come up to me who said how much my song Henri’s Song meant to her because of what she was going through at the time.”
With nearly 4,000 Facebook followers, 1,000+ on Instagram, and over 20,000 views on YouTube, Charlotte’s relentless efforts are certainly paying off.
You can find Charlotte Lily on social media through the following usernames: Twitter @CharlotteLilyUK, Facebook @charlottelilymusic and Instagram @charlottelilymusic