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Music for education & wellbeing podcast [36] TRANSCRIPT: Serona Elton, University of Miami and Oliver Morris, UK Music

AH: Hello, and welcome to the music for education and wellbeing podcast. Today I’m really looking forward to talking to two really interesting people who I will allow to introduce themselves in a little more detail. But for now, welcome Sirona Elton from the University of Miami and the Mechanical Licensing Collective over in the States. And welcome Oliver Morris from UK Music. 

SE: Hello. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here. 

OM: Yeah likewise, it’s great to be here. 

AH: Thanks both for coming. So why I wanted to talk to both of you together on this podcast is that you both have a shared interest in helping young musicians and I guess their parents or carers to become more informed about what careers and progression routes might be available to them in music. I wonder if I could start by asking you both to introduce yourselves briefly by saying who you are, what you do, and how you found your way to where you are today in music, perhaps start with Sirona?

SE: Sure, sure. So today, what I do are two jobs that are very closely related, in that they both involve education. I am a professor, I run the music industry programme at the University of Miami Frost School of Music. So that’s a college level programme where students are studying about the music industry, which is housed within a school of music where students are studying all sorts of different types of careers in music. And so I am, you know, in the classroom teaching, as well as helping advise students on career paths. And my other role with the Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) is a new organisation in the United States, that’s a nonprofit organisation that was created as a result of a change in the US copyright law several years ago, which altered the way a particular kind of music licensing, called mechanical licensing. It has changed the way that procedurally works, and the law called for the creation of a central organisation to manage that kind of licensing activity. And that includes collecting a particular kind of royalties and paying that money out to rights holders and creators. And so that organisation has a real educational challenge, which is where I come in, in helping explain to all types of people in the music industry, whether it’s songwriters, and artists, as well as a lot of business people. What exactly this type of licensing is, and what they need to do in order to collect any money that might be due to them. It’s a complicated topic. And so I get to teach people about it all the time. And inevitably, as part of teaching about what that thing is, I have to actually put it in the context of how all of the royalties in the music industry work. So ultimately, I’m an educator in both of these different roles. So that’s what I do. And sorry, that was so long winded, I can’t remember the second part of your question. 

AH: So the second part of the question is, how did you get to where you are today? What route did you take? 

SE: I mean, I think very early on when I was a child, I was able to have like some proximity to the music industry and fell in love with music and for a brief minute fell in love with the idea of maybe becoming a musician, myself, but then realised pretty quickly, that’s not my talent. But realising that I had such a strong passion, I wanted to find a way to apply what I do have in terms of skills and talents to this industry. And so, ultimately, throughout high school and college, I did everything I could to be in the proximity of what was happening with the music industry where I lived. I did end up actually studying music industry, I got a master’s degree in music industry, and then went to work for a big music company in the field, a major record label called EMI. And I was able to try and do a lot of different kinds of things. And over time I realised what I was really good at and what I enjoyed. And if you’re lucky over time, you can work on your professional career path, so that you end up doing more of the things you’re good at and you like and less of the things that you’re not good at and you don’t like as much. And I can trace a thread back from even things in high school, to now of being sort of an educator and a natural explainer of things. And then as careers do things, take turns left and right, you know, you make personal choices and changes, then I made a geographical change to move away from New York and move back to where I grew up in Miami, Florida. Timing is everything, and the University of Miami was hiring for a professor in Music Industry. And so it just all kind of, you know, fell in place. And then lastly, more recently, with the MLC, I worked with the person who is now the CEO at the MLC at another big music company called Warner Music Group. And we worked very closely together and when he then ended up at the MLC, he knew about my role, both as an educator and as a person who has worked heavily in this particular segment of the music industry. And so we crafted this current role together that just makes so much sense.

AH: All about being in the right place at the right time. And also that thing you said about, you know, being able to try different things. And then I finally found things that I was good at. And I like to think you know, that’s what most young people struggle with is having those opportunities early on to find that and to explore that. So Ollie, I’ll go on to you to find out a little bit more about what you do, and how you got to where you are today. 

OM: Right, yeah, sure. So I’m with UK Music, I’m the director of education and skills there. So my remit is quite broad. In terms of what we do, UK Music represents the music industry, but in the UK as a whole. And obviously, I mean, the challenges that surround it, as Serona was mentioning there, are very much at the forefront of our minds too. So we represent members, such as AIM, BPI, Featured Artists Coalition, The Ivors Academy, Music Managers Forum, Music Publishers Association, Music Producers Guild, Musicians’ Union, PPL and PRS for Music. So you can see there’s quite a broad, broad range of members there. And what we were formed really to sort of communicate their needs to government and to try and make sure we secure support for the industry. And try to have a case, a voice really, around what is necessary to keep music, you know, at the forefront of people’s minds and supported. Music is such a large part of everyone’s lives and any and all industries need people shouting about what’s missing, what’s needed, what’s necessary in terms of support. So that’s one area we look at and take care of, and in the other area is education, of course, because, you know, it’s important that we help those young people, those looking at things like career changes, those people already in the industry to really make the most of the opportunities. All our members represent different parts of the music industry. They support them. You know, I was at an event just this week in Southampton talking to young people and I said, obviously your initial network are those professionals around you. In school it might be your classmates or your bandmates. At Uni it’s going to be fellow students and lecturers, it will be your local music scene. But ultimately, another important part of your professional network are those professional organisations, those bodies that you can meet, get involved with, nurture relationships. They’re key really so I mean, if you’re starting out and you’re right in the middle of it, you want to be checking out those bodies that represent you and try and get your voice heard. You know, I’m a passionate member of the MU – Musicians’ Union – because I’ve played for a long time. I think it’s key, so important these days to be involved and get your voice across really. So my remit, just briefly, it’s everything from running the Music Academic Partnership, which is a collective of educational institutions and partners. So we have awarding bodies, we have further education colleges, we have higher education institutions too. And that’s really around creating opportunities for students and lecturers and staff, to meet industry, talk about issues, currently linking them up with BBC Introducing around opportunities for students to attend events, that kind of thing. So that’s really key, that’s quite a big part of my role. And then on top of that, there’s lots of policy changes at the moment across the UK. Recently, the National Plan for Music Education [in England], in which there are wholesale changes to things like the skills landscape. Apprenticeships have changed completely since I’ve been at UK Music, so we’ve been sort of leading on the development of new apprenticeships, helping industry to understand the changes, growing a lot of other creative industries bodies as well, communicate issues that we’ve found as the creative industries to government around how they’ve rolled out these things. I mean, there’s also T Levels at the moment coming out in England, which are awkward to be honest, for a lot of the creative industries. I support other bodies where I can too, so for example, I mentioned the MU. I’m actually part of the education section for the MU. Also, I’ve tried to get involved working in other organisations or groups, so I’m on the steering group for Make Music Day UK, on the advisory panel for Live Music Exchange, I’m a member of Anthem in Wales, which you’ll know about Anita.

AH: Absolutely.

OM: And just try and sort of help where I can I guess. This really comes from my passion for opportunities for young people, and some kind of societal justice, I guess, the idea that everyone deserves a chance at a decent life and pursuing stuff they love. So my background is, and this might help explain that, I guess. But I grew up in west Wales, actually not very well, not very well off at all. So I sort of hated school, and wanted to drop out of school as soon as I could. So about age 16, I was out of school, messing around playing in bands, and I started playing music when I was 14. So I found myself sort of playing a lot more music, you know, obviously claiming the dole a bit as you do at the age where you used to be able to anyway, while you’re in a band. Yeah, I ended up playing in a punk band, driving an ambulance for a bit, and eventually decided I should go back to university. This is just after I started a family quite young, as well. So I went back to uni as a mature student. Started getting bits of work, using my experience as a musician, and someone that is a bit alternative, I guess, a bit creative. So I started working with a theatre with kids that have been excluded from school. And it was great I was getting paid to engage with people, looking back, who were much younger than me, actually, but were right in the middle of that chaotic life that I had sort of had a bit of. So that was great. And education just sort of became a bit of an interest for me, because I’d thrown it away so young, I was like, wow, I’ve got to get on top of this. So I did like a degree and then a master’s while I was working and bringing up a family, and a PhD. I was offered a funded PhD, which completely came out of the blue. As Serona said, you know, sometimes things come along, and you’ve got to sometimes grasp them, sometimes you can’t see where they’re going to come from, but sometimes with your skills and experience aligned to help you get an offer of an opportunity. And that’s really what happened with UK Music. I’d just finished my PhD, I was doing a bit of lecturing at the uni. And this job popped up in London. I’m from West Wales, and I was like, right, well, I’ll pay for it. I didn’t expect to get it. And yeah, it’s the first time ever, I’ve seen a job spec where I sort of ticked every box. And I got it. And it was, there was a bit of a shock, to be honest, but a bit of a different, different angle on what I’ve been doing already. But it was working with young people around education and creativity. So it’s quite exciting. But yeah, it’s exciting. Interesting. And I get to hopefully help a little bit as well as Serona does.

AH: So you’ve both got really interesting stories to tell that will be quite reassuring for young people, I guess. So Serona, you started off thinking I might be a musician, I’d like to be a musician, then you quickly realise you wouldn’t be a musician. Ollie, you started off being a musician, and then have carried on being a musician and then found another route into a career in music. And a lot of young people might easily pursue a variety of different roles in music, but they don’t know it yet. And we, all having the perspective of hindsight, having the benefit of hindsight, can look back and think, yeah, it’s about chance. It’s about opportunity. It’s about taking those opportunities. But I know from lots of young people that I come across wanting to work in music, it feels very scary and uncertain, and very hopeless sometimes. And it feels as though there’s not a lot of information for them about all the very many opportunities that there are in the music industry and in the sort of industries surrounding that. So that was what I was really interested to talk about today. And particularly Ollie, I was interested to hear that you’d worked with kids that were excluded from school and you had an empathy with them because of your own background. And I also wanted to focus a little bit on you know, who’s missing out from that knowledge and that social capital around and sort of networking around opportunities in music and progression routes. So to sort of crack on in your respective countries? How easy or difficult do you think it is for young people to find out about roles in the music industry about what the possibilities even are? 

SE: I think the answer could be that it’s easy, and it’s difficult. [Laughs] Because, you know, I think it depends on a couple of factors. For example, if you have access to the internet, and you feel comfortable searching the internet for information, then the information is there. But realising that not everybody feels comfortable doing that, in which case, it’s going to be more challenging if you don’t, instead, perhaps have access to an adult, who can point you in the right direction. You know, there are music programmes in many of our schools of varying levels, and there are music teachers who students can talk to and say, ‘I’m interested in being a musician’, or ‘I’m interested in working in something music, but I don’t know what other things there are’. And depending on you know, who they happen to ask, they might get a school teacher who knows a lot and says, ‘Great, here’s this website to go to’, or ‘Here’s this book’, you know, or they might encounter somebody that says, ‘Well, I don’t know, I just know my own path’. So it’s really going to run the gamut. I’ve met a lot of amazing music educators, the teaching sort of high schooler or below, who, because generally many of them have come through college programmes in music, they’ve been exposed to what the other types of careers are in music beyond just being a musician. And so a lot of them are a wealth of information and can say, you know, ‘Hey, have you thought about music education, music therapy, music industry’, you know, ‘music engineering’. They themselves as teachers have been exposed to the many career paths through their own college experience, because many Schools of Music at the college level do have different degrees. So I think finding out that information is not terribly difficult if you have, either you’re comfortable looking it up on the internet, or you have access to somebody who has perhaps studied at a college of music. So I think finding that information is easy. Then thinking about, you know, if you find something that sparks a passion, going to pursue that, you know, then you can get into all sorts of complexities like socio-economic factors, and affording to go to college and things like that. But I think finding out about it, it’s easier now than it ever was in the past. 

AH: I’m wondering if sometimes that’s half the problem. It’s a little bit like Google is fantastic, but Google is also overwhelming. And for a young person who, say, in their final year of school, 16 or something, thinking, ‘I’ve done music GCSE, or I’m in a band, or whatever, and I really want to stay in music, but I’ve not got a clue’. It’s like, where would they go? So I’ll hand over to you, Ollie, what do you think about the situation in the UK for young people in that situation? 

OM: Yeah, sure. Well, I mean, I mentioned we work with other creative industries, and we worked on a careers project called Discover Creative Careers. And it was really around sort of trying to share the knowledge around those different careers. But it is an interesting issue isn’t it, because it’s almost like, I agree, so if you have the internet, and you have the capacity and the knowledge around almost what you’re looking for, you can find stuff. But for me, it’s almost interesting, that first step, which is in such a blank sheet, people often don’t know what to look for. So the website we created with other creative industries was really trying to solve that. So we ask a few basic questions and then it helps suggest a few possible careers in the creative industries based on your likes and dislikes, that kind of thing. So you know, it’s a relatively simple tool, but it’s had quite a lot of pick-up and is used across schools, which is great. But I think in the UK, from my understanding, there is far better understanding now of the sort of breadth of roles. It’s a perpetual problem. I think. People love music, people understand songs, they understand the artists, but then often don’t see beyond that. It’s like, if you like films, you might want to be an actor. We don’t understand that there’s 400 people on a film, and it might be only three or four actors. But I think generally, there’s good information out there. I think for me, it’s really about trying to help people access it and understand and also challenging those sort of gatekeepers to share it more. So again, in the Discover Creative Careers programme, we created a little training package for the enterprise coordinators and worked with all schools and careers advisors just to try and shine a light on an area that people might not understand. I mean, I try and hold my own opinions back when talking to my own sons, just because, you know, everyone’s different. And I can see I know exactly what they feel like, I felt the same way in talking to my mum. But it is important to have those conversations and important to try and open up people’s horizons. I mean interestingly, for me anyway, I’m sure not for anyone else, but my PhD was on the aspirations of young people in Wales, and really how young people perceive their opportunities locally and so much is dependent on sort of familial relationships and peers, and what’s available in the local college. You know, it’s just, there are so many blocks so early on and people get sort of pushed along certain pathways so early. The best we can do really is try and create as much info as possible. We do have stuff on our website, you know, we’ve got job profiles, and we’ve got a careers pack. I always encourage people to get in touch with me if they’ve got questions or want to follow up on anything. We do all the outreach with the unis and the colleges. And all our members are really, really keen on sharing this. And, and I guess in some ways, it’s really about those deeper skills or understanding the creative industries, like intellectual property, you know, it sounds such a boring topic for many, but if you’re a creative, that’s probably the foundation of what your career should be built on. So, to that end, we’ve, you know, we’ve worked a lot with the Intellectual Property Office, a government department in the UK. You know, we partner with them on a lot of outreach programmes and that sort of stuff. So, yeah, I mean, it’s very mixed, and there are so many good organisations out there doing very, usually unsung work, but at an amazing level locally. And actually, the last thing I’ll say about this is, a lot of the good stuff in the industry is basically created by young, entrepreneurial spirits if you’d like, so if you’ve got an idea, or you want to write about a gig, or you’ve got an idea for a product, and just just get on with it, do it, you know. Don’t worry about hanging around, because those fresh ideas, even if nothing comes of it, you’ll have something to put on your CV. 

AH: Interesting. Do you think that there are particular groups of young people who miss out more than others? I mean, that’s obviously a leading question. But I’d like to kind of get into that conversation, particularly about those young people who just don’t have those contacts,  don’t have parental, not necessary parental support, but even just parental knowledge, actually. So many parents may not have a clue about the music industry for one thing, but also how broad the music industry is, how many opportunities. I think parents are quite nervous when young people say I want to be a musician, or I want to work in music. And they might even stop that young person’s progression into what they might really love, not realising that it can be a stable career, there are lots of opportunities for them. Yeah, just interested to hear your thoughts about particularly young people who miss out and particularly young people who face barriers, and what can be done about that? I actually had a question from Twitter which was from Michael Davidson from Hertfordshire Music Service over here in the UK. And he asked, are opportunities equally accessible to all? And if not, what could help them? So that’s a big question for you both.

OM: That is a phenomenally good question. I think the honest answer is, obviously opportunities aren’t equal to all and there are multiple intersecting issues and barriers for people to access them. Hopefully, we and many other people communicate the benefits of music, not just playing but immersing yourself in it, learning about music. Hopefully, we communicate that enough that the governments and others take it on board. I personally think that music doesn’t play a large enough part of your upbringing, and that certainly in school, which is the one place, well apart from homeschooled kids obviously, the one place you should be able to access nurturing, creative, and cultural content is school. I hated it, to be honest, because it was dull and it was boring. And, you know, like I say, I played music, I played my own music in my own time, because I hated music lessons, I hated pretty much the whole thing, you know, uniforms, I hated a lot. So there are a lot of kids out there that feel alienated straight away if we even think about trying to involve them in organised, formal music lessons or discussions around music. But, having said that, if people are creative enough, and unlike, for example, our member, the MPG, Music Producers Guild, during the discussions around the new National Plan for Music Education [in England], were really, really keen, as we were, on making sure technology is understood to be a really important tool in the landscape now. Before it was sort of in the appendices, whereas really it should be front and centre because a lot of young people will be accessing and creating via  mediums that actually, to be honest, a lot of teachers probably are a little bit uncertain of. 

AH: Yeah, those are many of the young people who kind of won’t be spotted by the music department in school, but happily carrying on being musicians in their spare time, they might not be spotted as a musician or somebody on a musical pathway by their careers advisors. So those young people kind of miss out from that even that support that might be available to them in schools.

OM: Exactly, and if you’re a bit more clever about it, music can be a hook to draw people in and encourage engagement. That might be the starting point, and they might take two or three years to fully engage. See if there’d been a bit more of an acceptance of my music and my interests in a sort of structured way, I guess I wouldn’t probably have dropped out so soon. Music can be a great saviour, I think. 

AH: And there’s some amazing projects and organisations and initiatives going on around engaging young people in learning through music in the UK. I don’t know what it’s like over there in the States for those types of programmes, Serona?

SE: Yeah, I mean it varies tremendously because many of those programmes happen at the local level. You have, I think, a number of factors that are making it better, but not so much that we can sort of sit back and not worry about it, right? It needs to stay front of mind with energy and you know, you have some things that are changing I think that are making it more accessible, is that you’re seeing, some would call it popular some call it contemporary music, as opposed to classical and jazz, from a genre perspective, making its way into music education in schools. So it makes it I think, I think that’s really important and makes it more accessible to a student who might be making music on a computer, not on an instrument and feeling like they’re left out of a traditional band, or choir, and it takes a while for this to trickle down. You know, you’re seeing it at the college level with music educators being educated more about how to teach different styles of music, and not just following the sort of band and choir model. That then trickles down into what you actually see in the schools, which makes it much more inclusive and realising that music is made in many different ways these days and can be made just on a ‘phone. So I think that that’s a really positive step in the right direction. But I think there also has to be a continued effort to make sure music programmes are funded and kept in schools, and that they don’t get cut or slashed back to the point that you know, there isn’t a full-time music teacher there who can answer those questions in between classes, or after school and that a student can come to them and say, ‘What kind of careers are there in music?’. If you only have a part-time teacher who just comes there one day a week to supervise a band, you’re not going to have that opportunity for those discussions that happen outside of a formal class setting. So there needs to be continued attention on the funding that’s needed for schools. What there are, are also great programmes, again, very locally based that send people into schools to help supplement. You know, so here in Miami we happen to have a programme called Music Reach that we do at the Frost School of Music. And we send students who are studying music into local schools to use music as an educational tool, not just to persuade people you should go into music, but to bring music into students’ lives and help use it as a vehicle to teach all sorts of things. And so you know, that’s a non-profit and there’s a couple of other ones in Miami as well. So it’s really, it’s all over the place. It’s very varied. It’s probably the case that many of the bigger cities have more programmes than the small ones.

AH: That’s really interesting to hear about music students going into local schools. Are they particularly students that are studying to be educators? Or are they just literally studying all types of music at that level? 

SE: Yeah, yeah. So you need students, right?, or college students studying music in all different types. Some will study to be performers, not necessarily music educators, like it probably skews a little more heavily towards our music education students, but definitely not exclusively. 

AH: That’s interesting. Ollie, I don’t know that that happens that much over here?

OM: No, I mean, a lot of universities are aware of the power of engaging students in projects involving local schools and students and outreach groups. It definitely happens. But also Birmingham Conservatoire, I’m sure, had a great programme, and they’re not alone. And in fact, the point I wanted to raise as well is just around that sort of community non-profit organisation that Sorona mentioned. They’re key. A lot of them are engaged in the local music hubs in England, as well. England has the hub system, and it’s certainly worth mentioning that a lot of those are engaged in the hubs and/or deliver services on behalf of the hub, and others that maybe sit outside that world are equally as important. So, you know, you have organisations like, a fantastic one I always think of is The Pump in Birmingham. They work with 1000s of young people every year and they manage to survive by drawing in funding. I think all organisations like that face real struggles, in terms of keeping going and unfortunately, a lot of them do have to chase grants to survive, which is a real shame. I would like to see a bit more investment at that sort of level locally. And again, these are the sort of kids that maybe, like I wasn’t, clearly engaged in school, and some might be even further and actually fully dropped out of school like the kids I worked with before. Giving them a focus and a community they can tap into is so key and just in terms of other organisations sort of supporting the landscape for educators, which is an interesting part as I know, community workers, educators, those professionals out there, again, they’re often unsupported. Or another great organisation called Pathways Into Music. They work on helping people understand the trajectory you can take as a musician, lots of resources available too. I mean, there are so many organisations out there that are just doing fantastic work on a national, regional or local level. It’s very heartening, but I would like to, you know it would be great to think that there’s a bit more support out there for those that are really hard pressed and basically, you know, running pretty much on empty now, after years of cuts.

AH: Doesn’t look as though there’s any magic funding tree coming anytime soon, but we can always hope. It’s kind of interesting hearing these different perspectives, because it seemed to me that there are so many different organisations and individuals in the ecosystem who can really help young people by giving them the information, the knowledge about the full sort of range of careers, and also signpost them. But maybe those people don’t really see it as their responsibility sometimes. But even instrumental teachers, you know, peripatetic instrumental teachers that go into schools, I guess they wouldn’t necessarily see that as their role, but they’re really important mentors for young people. And a well informed instrumental teacher can help a lot of young people because they see a lot of young people each year, don’t they? So I guess in a sense, it’s about sharing knowledge with those people as they’re  training, which is something you touched on Serona. So that those university students, or FE students, know about the range of other careers, not necessarily the career that they’re in. Have either of you got any further thoughts on that?

OM: I guess the trouble is, for all teachers, that there’s an ever increasing pressure on teachers and on others that engage with young people, to provide all these services and perhaps the teachers, they’re in and out, that they could and should be important mentors, but they’re often stretched. We know it’s not always the most secure employment circumstances either. Where could we make progress on the careers thing with young people? I mean, I think the national plan is interesting, the refreshed national plan in England, there is definitely an expectation that industry will engage more with educators. We’re hoping to see much more of that, I guess, how that looks with no more funding is another issue. I guess if you’re a school, listening to this, or a teacher or industry listening to this, and you’re thinking about how can I help? Just make contact with your local networks and see if there’s anything you can do. Because I think getting a bit of industry knowledge into schools and non-profits as well can have exponential benefits for everyone. I mentioned apprenticeships earlier, I mean that they’re slowly taking off in music. We utilise a lot of business ones, for example, that really do offer an alternative opportunity into the industry for young people who maybe don’t want to go to university or are worried about debts or that kind of thing. But you know we’ve developed an Assistant Recording Technician course now as well, which is about to start the first cohort. There are other ones available like Live Event Technician, which has been combined with another one that’s very similar, the Creative Venue Technician – they’ve both been combined now. What I’m trying to say is really, if you’re in the industry out there, think about starting an apprenticeship, make links to your local school, think about providing an alternative route. Even if you only hit one or two young people every couple of years. If that happens across the board, then it’s going to be exciting in five or 10 years, isn’t it? So I think there’s a willingness to engage. And my last point is really sort of a message for young people listening is, interestingly COVID has sort of pressed the big reset button in many ways. I was at an event on Wednesday in Southampton, Production Futures are another great organisation to look up if you’re interested in live events, careers. And there are jobs literally all over the place in live events at the moment because of a combination of factors, [performing] live is coming back, although, you know, obviously there are pressures around it. And anecdotally, I’m hearing a lot of people that maybe have done 10, 20, 30 years in the business, when COVID hit they just thought, ‘You know what, I’m gonna do something different’. So a lot of people actually moved out of the business of live events, so there’s an opportunity there if you’re interested in live events, music, theatre, and you’re handy with lights or interested in technical stuff or front of house or stage management. There’s so many opportunities out there and there are apprenticeships. I’m sorry I’ve been going on so long now, I’ve completely gone off that question I’m sure.

AH: No, that’s fine. I’ll hand over to Serona and see if you have any reflections on that, on the kind of ecosystem around the young person, what support might be needed for that and what support is needed for young people? 

SE: I think it’s a question of making the resources available and then making people aware that they’re there. You know, those teachers that you talked about, you know, coming and going from different schools. I think it’s a bit much perhaps to expect that they have all the answers, but trying to find a way to make sure they know where you can get them, right? So that they can say, ‘Oh, great question, go to this site, or get this book’, not that they have the answers but that they can help, you know, as you mentioned earlier.  Finding a way to make sure that all the people in the music world, wherever students are getting exposed can point to a set of resources. You know, we tend not to do anything centrally. In the US everything is so local, but it does occur to me as thinking about this and in this discussion, that there’s some, perhaps some opportunities to just compile something into a very simple document or resource centre or website or something that everybody knows that’s where you point everybody to. Once that central site, you know, or central whatever it may be, list of things exists, then it’s really a question of getting every organisation you can get involved in making sure everyone is aware of it, right? So something like that, you know, hasn’t quite happened to my knowledge. There is Grammy in the Schools, a recording academy in the US that puts on the Grammys, they have something called Grammy in the Schools and they you know, they will actually bring music people from all different parts of the music world in to talk to students, but that only exists in a handful of cities. So that’s, you know, you need something broader than that. I think the key to making a difference in this space is realising that if you want people to disseminate information, you have to make it very easy for them to do that. 

AH: Yeah, it sounds like there is a gap, I felt there was a gap. I think that’s kind of why I was interested in talking to you both because advising a young person, it’s quite difficult to signpost to a one-stop-shop where there’s all the various opportunities available to them and options available to them. I don’t know, Ollie, have you got any thoughts on that? 

OM: Yeah, well, I mean, I agree completely, but there are some things we could do better, definitely at a national level. I’m always impressed that – my colleagues listening to this will be going, ‘Oh no he’s on that again’ – choose landscape. If you’re really interested in landscape architecture and that kind of role, there’s a really basic hashtag which is ‘choose landscape’, and they’ve got a website, which just helps guide you to stuff. I want to do something similar in music. I mean, I think one of the problems we have perhaps in music is it’s quite a small industry. I mean, it punches above its weight in terms of growth and in terms of income, but it is relatively small in terms of employment numbers, I guess, compared to, like car manufacturing, or whatever. But actually, with a really, really, really diverse set of roles. So it’s sort of like its own worst enemy in many ways. It’s also ironically, I guess, actually really a popular destination. Even if people don’t necessarily know what they want to do. I think that you’ve seen the growth in music degree courses. I mean, that shows how popular it is as an ideal or an idea to work in the music industry. Like you said earlier Anita it  doesn’t necessarily mean people know what they want to do, and I think a lot of people do start out thinking I want to be The Artist. I think we could do stuff better at a national level, but also, I also say this quite regularly, so again, apologies to any colleagues listening, but there’s not really a single silver bullet is there for these issues. Personally, I like the EU for this reason. I like lots of different small initiatives that work locally, but that have a connection. That to me is the ideal. So you couldn’t have a system that is replicable in all the different communities all over the UK, it just wouldn’t work. But if you had the resources, and people knew where to go, that was nice and simple, and they could access it and utilise it locally, in their own environment under their own project banner. That’d be ace. But sometimes, you know, I think the idea of starting a new project is more important than trying to ease around something that works for some people. It’s human nature, and it’s the way funding works. But there’s, yeah, it’s a balance I think between providing useful stuff and getting your name out there. 

AH: So I’m aware of time for you both. So I just wanted to ask you a couple of final questions. We’ve been talking around the subject of resources and the need for a resource etc, etc. I wondered if either of you could mention one single resource that a parent or somebody who works with young people should go to or should signpost young people to that is really helpful, and I’m happy to start because I know one particular resource that I keep on telling people about which I think is brilliant. I was involved in it, so I would say that, but Wiltshire Music Connect, one of the hubs, has created a set of ‘Why music?’ leaflets for parents and schools and young people. It just outlines why music is a viable career and reassures parents particularly that there are lots of opportunities in music and that it signposts various organisations and I think it signposts your web page Ollie. But have either of you got particular websites or resources that you think are really helpful? 

OM: I mean, the obvious one for me is our You know, I mean, we have got a big education section, a lot of info on there. You know, we’ve created a careers pack. You can contact us directly if you’re in a school or if you’re a young person and don’t know what you know what you want to do, or you’re an employer in the industry thinking about apprenticeships, you know, it’s all there or certainly it’s updated regularly. So we are going to refresh the careers pack soon, it’s looking a little bit dated now. But yeah, so and I encourage people to contact me if they have any questions. 

AH: Lovely, thank you, Ollie. Serona? 

SE: Yes. So, I mean, in the US, there is a site called, that’s very helpful. Let me give a big old disclaimer here, because I’m gonna mention a book that I just became [the co-] author of, it’s called the ‘Music Business Handbook and Career Guide’. It’s the 13th edition, and is about to come out literally in two weeks. It’s been around since the late 1970s, and now this is the 13th edition. And it has a whole section that lists many different careers, as well as much of the book explains how different parts of the music industry work. 

AH: Oh, that’s brilliant, thank you. So I’ll wrap up really soon. But before I do, I have a very random question for you both. And I will not be forgiven if I do not ask this question. And it’s from Harley, who’s aged 16, who’s an A-level music student at Sandringham School in St. Albans. And he asked me to ask, what’s the best route into acoustic architecture? And I think that’s really interesting, because that’s kind of what we’re saying here is that music is a very, you know, if you have an interest in sound and in music, there are many, many different options for you. I didn’t know what acoustic architecture is, I don’t know if either of you do  but I just thought I’d ask?

SE: What my guess is perhaps he means things like concert venue design, from an acoustic perspective, maybe? So one possible way in is through, like a music engineering type of career path, where you’re learning, you’re learning all about acoustics. And then you could combine that with architecture. So just one possible example is literally at my university students can be studying music engineering, and we have an architecture school and they could find ways to marry classes together on that. I’m sure that’s not the only answer, or even the most common answer. But there are a lot of ways to take music and careers in music and combine them with related subjects. And one way to do that is to find a place to perhaps study both of them in parallel if there isn’t a specific programme that brings the two together naturally. 

AH: Ah, that’s great. 

OM: Yeah, I’ll jump in, as well if that’s okay? It’s one of those questions that again, you imagine there’s a straightforward route. And as Serona’s highlighted, there are many ways to skin a cat, as the old saying goes, and I actually met an acoustic architect at a conference I went to at the University of Gloucestershire, which is one of our MAP partners a few months ago, and he was fascinating. So if the pupil wants to get in touch, I’m happy to try to link them up as well. So by all means, get in touch. So yeah, a very interesting career if you want to go that route. But yeah, find some interesting projects and employers, I guess, and try and see if you can get along to sort of chat with someone, I would ASAP before you make the leap. 

AH: Great advice. There you go, Harley. So we’ve come to the end of our time, it’s been really lovely to talk to both of you, and particularly really great to get a perspective from both sides of the pond. I really appreciate both of you making the time. 

OM: It’s been a pleasure, it’s been really nice to chat to you. 

SE: It’s been my pleasure to be here. Thank you very much for inviting me, it was really wonderful, thank you so much. Thanks for what you do. 

AH: Oh, thank you. And that’s the end of our podcast for today. If you’d like any more information on Ollie, on UK Music, on Serona and the organisations that she works for, that’ll be in the show notes and thank you for listening.

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