The Value of Work Experience in the Music Industry

Working with pioneering industry partners in creating work experience opportunities is a central focus at WaterBear, the College of Music. Georgie Palzeaird, Head of Careers and Industry, shares an insight into how these direct experiences are an essential part of the journey to a resilient, successful and fulfilling career in the music industry…

The music industry is all about making solid contacts and collaboration; something that I firmly believe is critical for starting and maintaining a career in music. Work experience opportunities in the industry can range from festivals, touring, recording, session work, record labels, publishing, PR and marketing campaigns, to live event management, backline, teaching, musical instrument manufacturers, studio internships and much more.

As well as iconic industry brands, at WaterBear for example we also work with some of the UK’s best festivals and conferences that support new music including ArcTanGent, Tramlines, The Great Escape, Brighton Fringe Festival, Breaking Bands, Pub in the Park, Elderflower Fields, and many others.

Lessons in Adaptability, Resilience, Innovation and Community 

Over the past few years many areas of the music industry, like many other industries, have had to adapt through the pandemic and economic uncertainty, and yet against these challenges, businesses and individuals have found new and innovative ways to survive.

One such business for instance is ArcTanGent Festival, a four-day outdoor experimental rock festival on the outskirts of Bristol. They are a testament to adaptability, resilience, innovation and community that has carried them through the turbulence of the past few years.

The independent festival sector was heavily impacted by the pandemic, ArcTanGent overcame the loss of income by securing a Cultural Relief Funding grant and a Crowdfunder which enabled them to build back their festival and return stronger than ever in 2022, headlining with the Swedish progressive metal/rock band Opeth.

We believe it is important to instil those same skills and attitudes in students, helping them to build their careers and businesses, whatever obstacles or challenges they may face in the future. Today’s music students will be the festival owners/managers of tomorrow, and whilst it’s been a very challenging few years for many businesses, the lessons we learn today will be invaluable to future generations in years to come.

Work Experience Opportunities 

Employers such as ArcTanGent Festival for example seek to nurture and develop students through their work-based learning opportunities. Recently, several WaterBear students gained invaluable work experience at the festival during the Summer. Nathan Haynes, a BA (Hons) Career Musicians student discussed his time at the festival and said:

“ArcTanGent as a festival was the friendliest, most accepting festival I have attended. Almost everyone there, is there for the love of the music and love of putting on a successful festival, and it paid off. I had the best time with the best people and would 100% recommend to anyone who wants to get involved in seeing how a festival works. My work experience has secured me a contract working at the festival next year, to say I am excited is an understatement.”

Offering insight from an employer’s point of view, Goc O’Callaghan, Co-Founder and Director of ArcTanGent said: “The importance of work-based learning is imperative to the development of the grass-roots talent which the event and music industry is so heavily dependent on. Only through mentorship and first-hand experience will the future generations (who will become the industry) harness the skillsets and on-the-ground knowledge required to be leaders in their field. 

As someone who has benefitted from the generosity in time and knowledge of those more experienced than myself, I have been able to carve a successful career. For this reason, it is important to me as Co-Founder, Co-Owner, and Director of ArcTanGent, that an educational platform is provided through work experience at the festival. Partnering with WaterBear this summer has enabled several students to gain vital insight into what goes into running an independent festival, which will in turn, provide a real-world context and understanding for theoretical application in their academic studies.”  

Mentoring and Teaching by Music Industry Professionals 

It’s important to learn from inside the industry to bring real-world context and experience. At WaterBear, alongside our partners, our founders, senior staff members, tutors and mentors have all had successful careers and high-level experience in the music industry, creating a network of like-minded musicians and creatives, all with lived experiences of a life in music. We find that this continually motivates and inspires our students, while also ensuring that we have an extensive network of professional contacts through which to generate more student work and career opportunities.

It is these combined experiences which I believe help to form an independent musician ready to take full control of their music and their life.

Those interested in studying a music degree courses at either a BA (Hons) or Master’s level can view information via the links below, or arrange to visit on one of our open days in Brighton or Sheffield.

WaterBear Sheffield

WaterBear Brighton

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