The Culture Bar — How the music industry can get more involved in music education to broaden music career horizons
How the music industry can get more involved in music education to broaden music career horizons
In this Culture Bar Podcast, we focus on collaborations between Higher Education and the Music Industry, the breadth and diversity of Career Pathways, and what could be improved to ensure that inclusive access to the music industry continues to be a priority for all involved.
Hosted by HP Foundation’s Manager, Lissy Kelleher-Clarke, the panel includes Jay Picasso (Artist Relationship Manager at Abbey Road), Dr. Oli Morris (Director of Education & Skills of UK Music), Hannah Eakins (CEO of Production Futures) and Ruth Minton (Lecturer at University of Liverpool & HP Foundation Trustee).
This podcast is part of the HarrisonParrott Foundation’s Music Access Awareness Week.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 00:03
Hello, and welcome to the culture bar, a panel discussion podcast exploring, dissecting, and shedding light on important topics in the arts and music world which matter to you. So hello, and welcome everybody.
On this podcast, we’re going to be discussing how the music industry could get more involved in music education to broaden music career horizons. And our luminary panel, in alphabetical order, is comprised of Hannah Eakins, who is the CEO of Production Futures; Ruth Minton, who is a lecturer in classical music forms at the University of Liverpool and a trustee of the HarrisonParrott Foundation; Dr. Oliver Morris, who’s the Director of Education and Skills at UK Music and runs the MAP, which stands for the Music Academic Partnership; and finally, last but not least, Jay Picasso, who is Artist Relationship Manager at Abbey Road, and also an MC and Rap lecturer at ACM.
So to get us started, I suppose: what does the current higher music education landscape look like? And does anybody from this group have any thoughts on the current provision?
Dr. Oliver Morris 01:15
I’m happy to jump in there. Because we run as I said, the Music Academic Partnership. It was set up to sort of link industry and academia. And I’m fortunate enough to work with lots of different partners, from awarding bodies to FE colleges and HE institutions too, and I have to say, there is a great range of types of institutions, there’s some really interesting work going on. There are lots of different courses. I think it shows the understanding of the possibilities around careers in music, but it has grown so strongly and powerfully over the last few years. Yeah, so I mean, I think there’s a great provision. There’s always more to be done and I’m sure we’ll get onto that later on in terms of industry and academia working together. But yeah, I think it’s really positive and working right at the sort of coalface of it, I’m really chuffed at the amount of provision and the breadth of stuff that is out there. There are obviously things that can improve and there are lots of things the industry could do better as well, but that’s my take, which we’ll get into detail and show a bit more later on.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 02:25
Do you think- I’m just adding a new question, because you sparked a thought- do you think that has changed significantly over, let’s say, the past decade, because my experience and music education is largely my own, not working at the coalface of it. And I’m not sure there was quite the same breadth of courses available as there are now, and certainly not ones that actually feed into kind of career pathways possibly as well as they do now.
Dr. Oliver Morris 02:51
No, I think you’re right. I mean, I suppose the instrumental route always existed and conservatoires, that kind of thing, have existed for a long, long time. But the idea of being able to study and ‘professionalise’, if you like, the industry side, you know, has been a relatively new development. And you all, I’m sure, have met people in industry today who say, ‘oh, yeah, I just started out by doing XYZ, helping someone out’, you know- informal links and informal roots which still have a place, but being able to study and become an expert in your field, whether it be music management or publishing- all these different elements that we rely on as an industry is, I think, really beneficial. And it raises the bar for everyone. I think, people who come through do know their onions, to use that old phrase, and really know their stuff, I think it’s exciting. And I’m privileged to work with so many universities, and I’ve met so many bright students that really are- that it’s not a hobby- that they see it absolutely as a career and they want to get as skilled as possible. So it’s really enthusing to see that and to feel that, almost like innovation, coming through and fresh perspectives that we all rely on as an industry, definitely. So yeah, I think it’s great.
I mean, it doesn’t undermine the need for other routes in, which is a really important part of the landscape- and the need for apprenticeships, the need for paid internships, all that kind of stuff. But I think being able to say yes, we have a really decent mix of institutions teaching this and developing research around it as well. I mean, that’s the other associated area, which is really exciting- the academic research piece as well. So yeah, many, many bits. No, I think it’s very positive.
Ruth Minton 04:43
Yeah, I mean, I just add to what Oliver said, I think one of the things- like you said Lissy- we all have our own experience of music education. And then obviously, for those of us who have then gone to work in the industry, you see it in so many different guises. And I think one of the things that, you know Oliver just said, is there are now so many courses in higher education that reflect so many branches of the music industry. And I remember when I was initially finishing my degree, people just didn’t understand what I would do with a music degree- those who didn’t work in the music industry, they were just like, well, what are you going to do? Do you get paid for that? And you’re like, yes, yes, I do.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 05:24
Ruth Minton 05:25
And it’s now been just expanded so much that students are coming to university with much more knowledge of how many career paths they can have, and also how the music industry is an industry where you combine so many of those paths, it’s not necessarily having to do one sole path of, ‘okay, I’m just a pianist, that’s my one job’. You know, I’ve had lots of jobs and still retain lots of roles and hats, as many of us do. And I think that’s one of the things that now the provision is showing, which is a really positive step forward.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 06:06
Yeah, definitely. And that really resonates with me- I remember when I was looking at, perhaps I’ll show my age here, but when I was looking at attending conservatoires, it’s like oh, it’s really just performance through and through. Whereas I think nowadays, there are courses relating to music management, and some of the other tools and skills that you’re actually going to need, either as a professional musician or as someone that’s going to take those useful skills and work in other roles.
So, how do we think the music industry and music education could partner to improve the quality perhaps of education, or just how those partnerships could work? I want to kind of talk about music education and industry partnering, and what could arise from them that’s positive.
Hannah Eakins 06:51
Well, certainly from the live production side of it, there is a lot that industry can do- there is a lot that the industry are doing. But certainly, from our Production Futures side, we are linking industry to education, and it’s really important that we show these hidden job roles, because a lot of these job roles are hidden. They have been even more hidden because of the pandemic, and we feel that if we can show those different job roles and the pathways into them, then we’ve seen that is really working with young people to see the different opportunities, whether it’s through an apprenticeship, or through higher education, or a combination of a degree, an apprenticeship, whatever it might be. So there is not a one size fits all, and it really feels like linking industry is perhaps something that everybody should be participating in to get the most out of the education that the students are in. These amazing courses that… certainly production, there are some fantastic ones, and there certainly weren’t a lot of those around for many years, and a lot of people that I know, who have been in the industry for many years, didn’t go down those routes and didn’t have those courses available. But now that they are available, it’s linking all sorts of other things- the real-world working environment, what that looks like, the hours, the expectations, and actually getting into that real-world working environment before they’ve completed their courses as well, is really important for the employers at the other end.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 08:39
I think that’s a really valid point as well, that actually by getting involved, the industry is somehow helping to shape and mould the graduates that they are actually then hopefully going to employ. So, I suppose a good follow-up question, or not, might be: What do you think the main benefit is that the industry brings to higher education settings? Is it resources? Is it expertise? Is it skills? Is it mentoring? It would be really useful to learn from your perspective where you think the real value add is.
Hannah Eakins 09:15
Well, they work in it every day. So they know how fast it’s changing- technology’s changing, everything’s changing, the skill sets are changing. And because there was such a huge skill shortage, they have to be aware of telling education what they need and what they hope for when a graduate or someone coming out of college is coming out with the right skill set that they require, because it’s changing all the time. And it’s certainly changed a lot since the pandemic, so there’s kind of two sides to this: The education side- are those tutors still in touch with that real-world working environment that we’re in now? And do they realise how many opportunities there are and how many different opportunities there are than from even two years ago, or last year? And it’s keeping up to date with those technologies and the changes and hybrid events now, and how everything is just being delivered in a different way. But yes, mentoring and mentorships- amazing, I think that that’s really important. You know, it’s showing the real-world environment, and offering that practical working experience, whether it’s in the summer holidays, or in a placement setting. But also, the way the industry is represented is really important, because certainly for me, I’ve been in the industry for 20 years, and it still has such a long way to go in how it’s seen, how it’s represented, and how it should be inclusive. So certainly, with Production Futures, what we do is show how the world is represented. So if you can see it, you can be it. It’s not a coincidence that if we have female sound engineers, or female lighting designers coming to engage with young people, that feels comfortable for them. And they’re able to try things too, or get to speak to those people about how they feel the industry is represented as well and opens up a very honest conversation about how it, how it has looked before and how it needs to look.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 11:30
It’s absolutely true that when you see it, you do believe it. Does anyone else want to reflect on that?
Jay Picasso 11:43
Yeah, I could, I could pick up.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 11:45
Please do, Jay, thank you.
Jay Picasso 11:47
Yeah. I mean, just some brilliant, brilliant points there. I think part of the collaboration between industry and education is based on you know, what you see, particularly as a student, in terms of who’s representing you in different industry jobs. And I think that association from the off is key because, you know, we do see a huge lack in diversity, which of course is changing, and we’re moving in the right direction with a lot of initiatives, which is brilliant, but at the same time, we don’t see as often as we could, certain students even gravitate towards certain career paths, because they don’t necessarily see themselves represented in those areas. So, I think it’s a huge thing. I think one of the solutions here is, along with sort of having tutors who are actually working in the industry, and actually participating in something professional in the industry, and there are many facets, and of course, that can be far and wide, but should certainly be the case.
I think on the other end, the industry’s involvement is to offer internships, and I say internships, because oftentimes, they are so broad in bringing someone in, that they allow that person to often see more areas than one in the industry that they may or may not have considered. And I think it’s good for two reasons, because, obviously, this is a very competitive industry, and in education, the idea is that you learn to craft your skills and stuff. However, there is this sort of glamorization of our industry as well. And so, you know, through internships, oftentimes, we can sort of get rid of those who don’t really want it, and who thought it was just gonna be flights and backstage tickets and stuff, which of course it is, but it’s like, actually, how prepared are you to work for it, because we also live in a world where the other side to education, or the other alternative route now, of course, is just going to get experience. And particularly in the music industry, now, we’re talking about things like TikTok. So, you don’t even have to have gone to get experience, you can just manufacture your own career on your iPhone or on your handset. And so again, technology has evolved how the industry and how education also need to work together because these things are going so quickly that they have to be on top of it.
So just to summarise, because I know I’ve said a lot and forgive me. But to summarise, I think there are two main things here, which is that the industry must offer students and potentially partner with universities directly to offer internships to graduates, and the second thing is that the university side, the education side- the higher education side rather- must have tutors, with professional backgrounds in the industry and those who are still actively participating in the industry today. Because as I mentioned before it is ever-changing. And if they do not participate in today’s industry, before you know it, it’s secondhand knowledge and no longer relevant, and that is the most off-putting thing to students, in terms of deciding whether to often spend this money to be educated, or to go out and try and find a career and be a few years ahead. So yeah.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 15:46
That was amazing. I think I agree with everything you said- not least in which how much the industry is glamorised. Okay yes, there’s travel- but it’s a 5am flight. And there are concerts to go to- but there are also invoices to raise and withholding tax to think about. And I think as many opportunities to try before you buy are very, very important. But yeah, very much with you. As well as having tutors with professional experience, I just feel like you connect so much more with the tutor who has actually been out there and lived it. They’re not just talking in that theoretical paradigm, it’s very much, ‘well, this was my experience, if that’s interesting to you’.
So I suppose, unless there are any more reflections on that question, an interesting follow-up might be: How do young people actually find out about music careers, if they’re not in one of Oli’s amazing organisations or somewhere where there’s already something like a partnership in place? How are young people finding out about music careers? How do they get exposed to different career options, beyond the obvious performing or teaching, which is what it was when I was younger, certainly?
Dr. Oliver Morris 16:58
I’m fine jumping quickly on that, because we do quite a lot of careers work, and we work with Production Futures loads, so some brilliant work with Hannah. I mean, it’s an interesting question, and it’s one that comes up a lot in the work I do, and I think sometimes people assume there’s a silver bullet, like there’s one solution out there, if only we can find it. And actually what it really boils down to is throwing as much information out there through as many different partnerships as possible to reach those people that are considering it.
So a couple of examples are, we’ve built up our careers outreach work. So we’ve been doing work at the skill show, and obviously, sadly, through COVID it’s not been on, but it’s the largest skills and careers fair in in the UK. So we do that every year. When it’s in person, obviously, we worked with BBC Introducing on their live events. So we were running the careers fair during the in-person events and now they’re doing smaller satellite events this year, so we’re going to be working with them. We work with organisations that have networks- people like globalbridge, they’re a great organisation set up by teachers that are really trying to link up young people with professionals and universities and industry speakers. So there are multiple routes, and we do work a lot with other creative industry partners, too. So we’ve put in a second bid for a follow-up to our Discover Careers programme. So that enabled us to develop new apprenticeships, which enabled us to share more information. There’s a great website out there if you google Discover Creative Careers, to help you find where you might sit fit in the creative landscape.
So, as I say that there are lots of options out there, but it’s never a single thing. That single bullet is just a case of trying to share as much as possible, and hope it’s picked up because, I don’t know about everyone else here, I grew up in a small town in west Wales- we used to do gigs in the school hall, and I had no concept of there being a career beyond playing my guitar a bit, literally not no concept whatsoever. So, I think if we can get as much information out there as possible and try and share it in a dispersed way as possible as well, that will really help. And check out UK Music, too- we exist, we’ve got lots of job profiles on our site, we also have members, and a really important part of any person’s development in their career is tapping into those networks that can help them professionally. All of our members exist to support, so I really do encourage them to try and join. If you’re a student, and you’re a musician, joining the MU is £20 a year and you get insurance, you get networking opportunities, you can get involved in the community. So there are lots of ways you can get involved and find out information, but the first step I reckon is go to UKmusic.org, and have a look around there.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 20:04
Although, I do now want to drag our conversation down into the murky depths of considering what some of the possible deficiencies are in the current provision. So whether that’s on the education side, whether it’s the industry, whether there are doors closed- putting some ideas out there. What are they- if there are any, maybe it’s all going great, but I somehow think not. But we’ve had some wonderful ideas on what could be enhanced and what could bolster and what could improve, that I think it’s quite important to reflect as well on where we’re perhaps not doing so well.
Ruth Minton 20:39
Well, I think as I was listening to Oliver there, I think one of the things that really strikes me is the fact that we’re all doing what we can, but we’re always still coming up against so many barriers, as well. And some of these barriers are often put up when it’s lower down- when they get to us at the higher education level, they’ve already opted to take a course in music or the creative industries and have opted to say, ‘that’s something I want to do’. But obviously, a part of what we do, as you know, is fantastic- I didn’t know some of those things, so I will go look those up later on- that obviously do go down into the school level.
But obviously, with the school level as well, we’re continually up against the funding issues of the arts subjects in schools, and the perception that some teachers, and those people within the schools have on the creative subjects. I can tell numerous tales, as I’m sure we all can, of when I used to work at the Junior Conservatoire in Birmingham, I’d have students come to me on a Saturday- and obviously, they were privileged to come to the Junior Conservatoire on Saturday- and they’d tell me stories of their school, where a headmistress had stood up to say, ‘Don’t bother taking art, music or drama, because you’ll never get a career in that, it’s a waste of your time.’ And I’d have a 15-year-old girl in tears with me on the Saturday saying, ‘but I want to do this, how do I do it?’ And I think that is something we can’t obviously solve overnight- that is changing perceptions over a longer time. And I think the more we can have these partnerships that work in HE but then obviously, within the schools, obviously, with HP Foundation, we’re in lots of talks with hubs and different things to get to younger people, so children, teenagers, and then keeping them interested as they get older. But I think that is one of the areas of our barriers that we have to come up against to make sure that at that school level, there is a true understanding of what a career in the creative industry is, and actually how fantastic it can be. Yes, it’s hard work. But actually, we’re all sitting here, and I’m pretty sure most of us would not change our career for anything- I know I wouldn’t. But I think that’s something they need to see, and I think the more we have the opportunity to go into work with those younger people, as well as at the higher education level, that then shows them that real-life experience. And they’re not just hearing it from a teacher- and many teachers are fantastic, and hats off to them- but they’re not just hearing it from the teacher who’s continually up against budget cuts, and teachers and governors saying, ‘well actually, don’t do this’. But they are seeing it from real life, people in the profession as well. And I think that’s one of our biggest barriers that we’ve continuously got to chip away at.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 23:48
Thank you, Ruth, that was really, really inspiring. Hannah, please.
Hannah Eakins 23:53
Yeah, we’ve seen this at Production Futures actually, that as soon as we offer to pay for coaches to come from schools and colleges.. So just to give you a recap, or an overview of what Production Futures is, we create a show and we go into either a live venue or an educational institute and we basically take over for the day, as industry do, and we create learning zones, we have panel sessions, we have jobs, we have placements, of a whole plethora of opportunities for whether you’re a school leaver through to a graduate- do you go freelance, do you not? There’s lots of advice as we join forces with amazing associations like UK Music, Live Group, Black Lives in Music, Association for Electronic Music. Anyone that we can collaborate with, we will, because we want to make sure that we are linking this industry to younger people as early as possible. And we obviously used to do it before the pandemic, and then of course, some of our events that we delivered coming out of the pandemic, we couldn’t get coaches because of COVID, but now we can. And now we can really start to invite that crucial age where their parents or their teachers might need that reassurance that this is a viable career. Certainly from the production side, it was so hidden, that it’s really difficult to sometimes sell it to someone. But actually, I think parents are getting more and more on board with these creative careers and how they want to support their children into careers that they enjoy, and that their dream job can be possible, because actually, the world is waiting for them. And there’s never been more opportunity actually in live production. So, it’s reassuring, and it’s hard when it’s that one person or that one teacher, that that makes that decision that maybe doesn’t believe in it. And I think that’s probably where we need to do better at saying ‘no, please, can we engage as an industry?’ Because we know that the earlier we can connect with young people, the better, and to be in their sightline as a viable career.
So yeah, I just think that’s been very apparent, certainly last week, when we did our event in Wakefield. So we toured the event around the UK, and we’d go into that community and all the local schools and colleges, and if we are in a university, we don’t just rely on that university to do that- we do that too. Because we want to make sure that everybody in that city or town that we’re visiting is welcome. And that there was an opportunity for them and a pathway for them, and even just a networking opportunity, or if they have questions. Also, it’s the government- in the pandemic, a lot of young people that… I mean, these amazing graduates and school leavers that wanted to come into these industries, where are they from 2020/2021? We need to find them, we need to connect with them. And tell them that there is a skill shortage and that there are so many opportunities for them, and actually, now is probably one of the best times to be young and have all of these opportunities, because I don’t think there’s ever been a recruitment drive like it in the industry and a need for that skill set. And it’s in every job- technical, non-technical roles- anything that provides an opportunity, with your skill set, it can be fit into the live production industry, really.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 28:00
It’s really interesting, I think, reflecting on the barriers. A piece of research that I did last year with Goldsmiths University, was not just finding the barriers, but actually looking at engagement drivers. Because one thing that I’ve always found quite curious is, it’s quite acceptable to say, ‘I just don’t like sport, I’m not very sporty’- I’m very sporty, so I find this a very offensive statement. But with music, you know, just really being a bit inflammatory, I suppose. We can’t kind of quite come to terms sometimes with the concept of someone being like ‘I just don’t like music, I just don’t want to engage with it’. So, again, not my view. But I do find it interesting how there are sometimes an awful lot of opportunities, but people don’t always know what they’re kind of looking for, and they don’t know what they want to engage with. And there are so many other factors that determine whether you actually take up an opportunity or not. The most obvious one is obviously socio-economic status and whether your parents are interested in the arts, because so often with young people, if the parents are not interested in music, and don’t place a particularly high value on it, that opportunity is probably not going to come to fruition.
Dr. Oliver Morris 29:13
So it’s interesting what you said there, I think, interesting differences in sport or music, because I think with music, you’d be really hard-pressed to find anyone that didn’t have it as a part of their lives and quite an integral part of their lives. I think the issues come with the forms of engagement- so I dropped out of school as soon as I could, and later on, I was like, I missed out there, I should do some education, and so I got back into studying lots. But I dropped out as soon as I could, because I hated the sort of structures of school- absolutely hated it. I played in a band at the age of 14 and we played in school, but only ever in the school disco or the odd Comic Relief assembly. So I was engaged in music, I just hated the structures around lessons in school, so I think it’s important to sort of…
I think with music we’ve almost pushed against an open door with most people because music’s integral to all of our identities, that’s why I love it so much. I think it’s just such a part of all our identities, and a follow on point, which I thought of when you were talking before is- Hannah actually, Hannah’s point she made- flagging that the opportunities that exist in the creative arts, but that are not necessarily creative roles, are just as important because you can have a career in the creative arts, and be a lawyer- or there are multiple things you can do in the creative arts and you might just like the process of getting involved in that as an individual. And also the importance of creating- I mean, we’ve got to keep flagging this and talking passionately about it, because the importance of creative skills to the economy as a whole, not just the creative arts, as much as the creative industry is so important. So we should try and steer away from the idea that they’re not absolutely separate, then there’s lovely crossover and synergy. We’ve just got to talk a lot about it as well.
Ruth Minton 31:08
Just to add to that, you just made me think as well, the fact that one of the things we see- I’m sure Jay does with your students- we now see employability is a big thing we talk to with our students, you know, in all of our modules it’s ‘well, how is this helping you from an employability perspective? What is it teaching you?’ And I’m obviously a musician, so one of the things is how transferable the skills are in music. And I think that’s something we can obviously use within that creative industries discussion. Like I said, you know, like the accountants, the lawyers- we need all of those people within our industry as well.
But the skills that we have as musicians going back to the school side of things, and I think linking so much of that, and I mean, this is a wider topic for education and how our education system works, is that students are taught so much in a box. My favourite example is if I ask a student in a music lesson, well what happened in 1789? And they look at me just rather blankly, because that was a history lesson. Why would they know what happened in 1789 in music? And I think realising how much there’s such a crossover between the creative industries with everything else, is something that we need to maximise more on in all of these partnerships and conversations we have along the way.
Jay Picasso 32:34
And if I may add as well to that, I think, you know, just back to the question as well, that the barrier here partly, is that, and I think it’s changing, but I think that the actual degree, the qualification in the music industry does not transfer as well as it does in other industries. And in fact, it’s the same in the creative art space in general, there is no degree in this industry, necessarily, that gives you the job. And that’s one of the problems that we have, because you have lots of students who have music degrees, even though they have different specialisms within that degree, and it’s just called a music degree. And then they are going for a multitude of jobs. And often these particular jobs want you to have experience, and the one thing at the top of your CV that a degree will tell you, is that you don’t have experience because that’s the thing you’ve put at the top. And so it’s making it more transferable, it’s making it something that’s actually, you know, that carries more weight. And I think that’s partly done through the fusing of actual experience, you know, there’s a lot of other sectors of education, where they are required to do a year’s worth of training somewhere, you know, in order to get a job anywhere else. And I think, partly integrating that is going to be how we kind of cross this barrier of… because I even have friends who have music degrees, but no longer work in music. I think to be honest with you, that’s the bulk of my class, you know, that’s the bulk of graduates that would have been in my class- they don’t work in the music industry. And I think it was because they didn’t know where to put that outside of some of the more obvious pathways and I think, again, it’s how you even transfer it- you know, for the first 10 years out of university, telling people I had a degree meant nothing, it was like, and what? Where’s your experience, you know, what does that mean? And so, again, it’s just coming back to making sure that we, as the education sector, help students- and this is where it becomes more of a personal thing, an interaction between the tutor and the student themselves. We educate them in ways of being, you know, professional and entrepreneurs and thinking of, you know how to, you know, if you can’t get a job immediately, you’re creative. How are you going to be an entrepreneur? How are you going to start your own business? How are you going to… how do you become… Years ago, when I was graduating, you know, as a drummer, originally, that was the pathway, maybe I’ll get a gig, but now it’s a business, you have to be an entire business to be a drummer, you can have lessons, online lessons, Zoom classes, you know, content for people to download on YouTube and sell it on a private page. And there are so many more facets to it now because of technology. So it’s also like, how do we prepare people to engage in this industry, even if they’re not given a job, because partly what has made this industry so great is the amount of people that have done that, created their own thing, and then brought jobs in. And, you know, my role right now at Abbey Road did not exist five years ago. And it’s this kind of entrepreneurial spirit that sometimes exists out of getting sucked out of outside of being given a job that creates this creativity and spawns that as well. So it’s also feeding into the students the fact that as a creative individual, you have to think way outside of the box, when it comes to even the industry, you know- you are the industry, you just don’t know it yet. And that’s, you know, partly conveying that as we go, I think is going to be a huge solution to, you know, this barrier.
Hannah Eakins 36:37
Can I jump in there please, because, yeah, I absolutely agree, Jay. It’s that transferable skill, that being job ready, seems to be this disconnect that we’re seeing, that in a lot of other countries, you are encouraged to do a work placement, usually for a year, in a business within a production company or within, you know, a certain… you’re actively encouraged to be job ready. Whereas we are hearing from a lot of students that they have learned in the classroom, therefore they are ready for working, and that’s not necessarily always the case. And it certainly isn’t in live production, because there’s a very different scenario from what you’re learning in a very safe virtual, or studio or stage within your campus, to what’s happening out there. And things are going wrong and things like solutions are having to be found very, very instantaneously. And I think that real world- and maybe that has been the industry’s fault, too, for being a bit reluctant to maybe take those young people coming out of education, because then they maybe have had experiences before where they’re not job ready. And yet they were told they were, or they thought they were, and they’re really not. And that doesn’t help with their confidence, with that student’s or that graduate’s confidence. And it can therefore lead to them going into other industries or, you know, jobs where they’re not following their dreams, they’re not doing what they wanted to do. And sometimes maybe they need to be encouraged into roles that may not be right for them right now. But they are still in the creative industry, there’s still, you know, it could be a production company in their local area, or it could be a crew company, out on site. You know, just even being in that environment around people where they can meet people that just takes meeting one person to lead them to meet another opportunity. But if they’re working in a shop, or in a bar, completely away from that creative space and that creative type of person that they want to work within that environment, it can really affect their confidence and make it feel further away. And so it’s down to industry, and it’s down to I guess, education to make sure that that student is nurtured in a way of being job ready and the transferable skills you said Ruth is so important, because if you’re just studying lighting design, and that’s all you know, in a theatre environment, then you know if you can use your spare time to learn about lighting design in a live environment, or in a different environment or on a TV set, or as many skills as possible, and use that three years to not just learn about that subject you’re learning about but also to learn about everything else and then the dots actually join a lot quicker when you’re ready to face that working world.
Fiona Livingston 39:56
And we are now going to pause for a quick message from our friends at Things Musicians Don’t Talk About.
Rebecca Toal 40:04
If you’re listening to this, we reckon you’re in with a good chance of enjoying our podcast, too. Hi, I’m Rebecca, and along with my co-host Hattie, we run the Things Musicians Don’t Talk About podcast and online platform. As you can probably guess from the title, we delve into things that have been stigmatised or brushed under the carpet, such as mental illness, addiction, disability, financial struggles. I mean, the list is endless. You can find us on pretty much any podcast distributor where you can hear us interview spectacular guests, and sometimes Hattie and I just have a chat by ourselves about things that are frustrating and/or interesting others right now. We’ve both dealt with our own mental illness and general struggles alongside our training and work in the classical music world, and we felt that it was about time we did something about it. Search for Things Musicians Don’t Talk About on wherever you get your podcasts, and we are at TMDTA Podcast on all the socials. See you soon.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 41:03
This has been absolutely brilliant, thank you all so much. And I would like to ask two things: One, Jay, are you happy if we now renamed the podcast ‘you are the industry, you just don’t know it yet’? Because I think that’s our best vox pop so far. That’s the threshold to beat. So go on Ruth, Hannah and Oli! But I think it’s really great that we’ve all kind of shared similar reflections on what some of the problems still are. Because my fourth question is going to be, you know, money is out the window, it’s no longer a problem, we’re in a sandbox society- what would be some of your top solutions to fix some of these issues, if some of the kind of fundamental barriers that we know that we have to work with on a day-to-day basis weren’t present?
Dr. Oliver Morris 41:59
Well, how do you… I mean, it’s structural, there are so many issues. Free and unfettered access to music for all young people, free university education, I’d go as far as to say. You know, develop more apprenticeships, but have grants there to help employers take them on, because the creative industry is strong, but there’s lots of SMEs, sole traders, lots of innovation, like Jay said, you know, it relies on a lot of energy from people in it to keep it going. And I think we’re a successful industry, but it’s sometimes missed, I think. You saw it perhaps a little bit in the misunderstandings around the issues we faced during COVID, you know, I mean we went from one of the strongest growing class economy to stagnation, really a big drop off, as you’ve seen from our economic reports. No, but we want to get back and we will get back, it’s just a case of that support to get back up to speed.
So, yeah, I mean, I get a lot of people to come and talk to me about wanting to take on apprentices, you know, and we are developing new apprenticeships, but without a little bit- it doesn’t take much- a little bit of grant support to help cover the salaries to start with- that makes such a difference to SME. So yeah, I mean, for me, its structure is about access, and it’s about opportunity- widening that opportunity out really, and that takes a bit of investment, but it pays itself back in terms of the economy and growth, and happy individuals and working communities and all the sort of things you want in society. I think music is such a core part to everyone’s well-being and identity and happiness, it’s a no-brainer to me, but… I know it’s a big ask because basically, throw a lot of support at us, but you know, young people deserve the opportunity to study, appreciate, perform music. And it’s tricky, a lot of young people face a lot of barriers and if you go into school hungry, you’re not going to be that worried about recorder lessons, you know what I mean. It’s very deep and structural, to me, the issues.
Hannah Eakins 44:07
Can I just add, because Oli and I talk about this a lot- internet, making that free for every young person. I mean, that is just a simple basic that every young person should have access to it. And that would be amazing. Passport, that’s expensive, you know, if you have a passport or can drive- driving lessons, you know, if you are the person that volunteers to take something somewhere on a plane or in a car, you will probably get that job faster than somebody who can’t so yeah, free passports for all would be amazing. And driving lessons.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 44:52
No free music lessons, just free driving lessons! But I still agree and think it’s excellent.
Hannah Eakins 44:59
I suppose to make it just level for everybody you know, so that every opportunity, so that everyone can listen to music, everyone can take any opportunity that’s thrown their way.
Dr. Oliver Morris 45:11
The added benefit of protecting everyone’s votes as well, if you provide everyone with a driving licence or a passport.
Jay Picasso 45:23
I think my submission would probably be a bit narrower than that. Which is really like an industry-based university. And I say university because I think, again, it’s kind of the last point people leave education, but that type of level-based internship programme where it was like, you had to apply via the university who would then you know, then you would be admitted. Now, I know it doesn’t solve enough. But that’s just one solution, I think would be really good for anybody trying to take more of an executive route, certainly an executive route, and anybody that was more interested, certainly in the business side of things, as opposed to being a performer.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 46:12
What would your unfettered solution be?
Ruth Minton 46:17
Well, I think most of it’s been said that the main two things for me would be funding and accessibility, because I think one of the first things that when people start off, whether it’s when they’re leaving university, or they’re considering going to university, those first steps as young adults, the one aspect, especially now with the cost of living crisis, and all of those things, is they worry about how they’re going to pay for their the roof over their head, the bills, the food, and I have been, you know, self-employed musician, where I’ve literally wondered, okay, can I afford my rent this month, and I know I won’t be the only one. And I’m now not in that position. But it took me a long time to get to have stability in what I do. And I think the more opportunities we can create that are funded, so that students are getting that experience, but aren’t equally having to think, right, I’ve actually also got to go work down the supermarket, do nights, or do these other jobs, but they can literally just completely embed themselves in the creative industry. And that is a funding thing, because obviously, so many opportunities- we have lots of opportunities to provide, but not all of them are always funded, and obviously, depending on where they are in the country, cost of living is then a factor. And I think the more we can offer those opportunities in stable environments for young people, the better- and that comes from funding. And like Ollie and everybody said the accessibility. So yeah, I mean, going to rehearsals, whether you’re a production person, whether you’re an agent, being able to drive, transport. So the more we can give these opportunities to everybody, the better. So I think that that would be my… Yeah, if there were no issues, the two things without a doubt.
Lissy Kelleher Clarke 48:12
Thank you so much. I only have one last question, and actually I think Jay touched on it a little bit earlier when he mentioned Tiktok- but is current music education actually reflective of the modern world? I think from everything we’ve discussed, it sounds like actually, it is keeping pace, which is brilliant. And if that’s the case, then let’s kind of promote that. But is it reflective of the modern world? Is it reflective of the careers that are available, and actually what young people want and what they identify with when they think about music?
Dr. Oliver Morris 48:46
Ultimately- I’ll jump in quickly first- I mean, I think there’s always a lag, that’s the trouble. I mean, you get policies coming in, or thinking come in, which impacts our schools, and this might sort of take it forward. Like we pushed for a long time for the National Plan for Music Education to have technology feature more centrally, because obviously, technology is super, absolutely mega-ly different, if that’s a word, from what it was when the first national plan came out for music education, in England this is. So I think there’s always naturally a lag. And that’s why those individual teachers and those individual community workers are so important, because they’re the ones really helping those young people access music and reflect, and giving them the spaces to perform they want to do as well, you know, it’s not just about being told for young people- it shouldn’t be, you know, I’ve done plenty of work with young people where they’re telling me what’s going on, you know, and that’s good, that’s how it should be. So yeah, but I think, really, part of what I’m trying to say is, I think we need to trust those teachers and community workers more. There’s often… you know, there’s policy directions, and there are caveats around funding, and there’s, you know, targets, you have to hit with grants, all sorts of stuff. And I think, to a certain extent, almost, we should trust those that are doing it a lot more, I think there’s a danger we try and tie everything up. And like I said before, it’s my favourite saying that we always assume there’s a silver bullet for everything. I’ve done enough community work in enough different communities to know that something that works in one isn’t necessarily gonna work in another, you know, and that’s down to geography, community leaders- there’s a whole range of things that can influence stuff, but yeah, so trust- trust the people in communities, and again, back to funding- trying to find a bit of funding to help facilitate stuff, I guess.
Ruth Minton 50:44
I think I’d add to that. I mean, this goes from the previous question as well, I think one of the things is the communication- always keeping communication open between all of these different areas, that the communities that Oli said- the universities, the schools, the industry itself- and having that discourse to continually evolve, and be open to the fact that okay, maybe that doesn’t work, so what can we do? And being adaptable, and always communicating and being open with people not having a whirl- okay, well, they’ve succeeded, but they’re not going to share that idea, you know, keeping it open, so that everybody can benefit from all of the things that are happening in education and the industry as a whole.
Hannah Eakins 51:29
I think collaboration, like you were saying earlier Oli, that’s the way forward in all of this. And I think that, historically, there’s been so much of almost secrecy, or you know, we’re doing this so we don’t need to do anything with anyone else. I think that has completely been thrown out now, which is fantastic that we’re seeing more and more collaboration from competitors from, certainly from manufacturers in the live events side. And, yeah, it’s- and production companies- and it’s amazing, because actually, the more you work together, the louder your voice. And the louder we are, then the more viable the music industry is as a career, because, and I suppose, because we’re so hidden, and yeah, the performer is not what everybody else, but the performer is. And I think, you know, it’s just a statistic from Glastonbury, for example, you know, there are 200,000 people on site and 50,000 are working. And just to know that statistic alone just says so much about how many roles go into putting just one event together, with all the artists and all of their crews, and all of their amazing creative, other suppliers, and everyone that goes into making that event happen for one, and how everyone’s just as important as the other. And that ecosystem is so important to put those hidden job roles into the spotlight more. And the only way we can do that is to collaborate as an industry together.
Jay Picasso 53:14
I think that the education sector is doing well to help students with the evolving technologies, but I also think, you know, the evolving technologies are doing well to help the students themselves. And so I think partly what, you know, Oliver said about trusting them is important, because, as they, you know, as a young person comes to education, you know, they also have a way of wanting to be taught and a way of engaging with specific things. You know, and I think it’s important that we recognise where they are, particularly as our educators, as our tutors and teachers who faced them, I think it’s important that they recognise, you know, where they are as students and how they are engaging with this technology and how also, to some extent, this technology is out of our control. And you know, there will be new, you know, there’ll be overnight sensations made, you know, tomorrow and all of this stuff.
I think partly what’s important, if I must say, is to educate students really on, one- how life often isn’t done overnight, and although, you know, everything in our world has this instant feel to it, it often isn’t an instant career that happens. It’s something that takes forging and takes time and takes, you know, a lot of effort. And to touch on something Ruth said earlier as well, I think the other thing here is to also- with this technology and as education supports, you know, students with it, it is important to have a sense of mental health in all of this because, you know, when we leave education, and we do go into this sort of realm of where do I get my job, as you know, as everybody does when they sort of leave education, there is this sort of sense of instability that musicians go through, when they don’t necessarily know… you know, that they know that they’re passionate about this career path, but there’s nothing open to them right now. And of course, there is, you know, a job at the local supermarket open that will take them today because they have to pay that rent. And, again, you know, a lot of the people I mentioned that no longer are in this career path, it’s those decisions they had to make, you know, it’s not, it’s not that I’m any better than them. It’s that they had a practical decision to make in their life at a time, which was the pinnacle to their career, and they did so. So again, I think education is doing well to help with technology. You know, often students access things like studios, when they can’t do outside of that, you know, being able to afford one yourself or being able to attend one for the day is really costly. So those types of things are really, really helping as well. There’s always room for improvement, but I think that it is something that is in a relatively good state right now as long as we consider, again, the insta-life that isn’t real and mental health that should be considered when interacting with these technologies in this line of work.