Young people dreaming of making it in the music business were given a rare look behind the scenes by two stalwarts of sound engineering.
North East-based Nitelites – which provides sound, lighting, and staging equipment used by stars such as Ben Howard and Catfish & The Bottlemen – invited a handful of Middlesbrough College students to its Tyneside base.
With equipment that would typically be found gracing the stage of Leeds Festival or the BBC Proms, Nitelites manager Andy Murray and freelance tour manager Ross Lewis gave students a taste of life in the music industry.
Drawing on his years of experience working with performers – most recently as global tour manager for pop star James Bay – Ross gave the students his top tips on forging a career in music.
Ross explained: “Our aim was to get the students thinking about what they need to do if they’re serious about a career in the music industry – and that means building a strong network, knowing your craft and saying yes to opportunities.
“The most important takeaway is that with the right attitude and skills anyone can do it.
“I’m an ordinary guy from Ashington and in the past five years working with James Bay I’ve travelled the world having some fantastic experiences.
“It’s important not to judge people by appearances. I’ve worked with all sorts of people and you can get so much more out of your career by keeping an open mind.”
Students on Middlesbrough College’s BSc (Hons) Audiovisual Technology degree got the chance to build a typical stage setup using real equipment that would normally be on the road.
Under Andy and Ross’ guidance and instruction, students applied classroom theory to real life and picked up wisdom about getting breaks in the industry.
Ross added: “It was great to show the students this side of the international music industry is happening only 30 or so miles up the road from home.
“There is absolutely no reason these students shouldn’t be the ones setting up the gear for international stars.
“The live music industry is as healthy as it’s ever been and even with the significant challenges that Brexit raises, there are plenty of opportunities for people with the skills and right approach.”
The Nitelites experience is just one of a number of opportunities afforded to Middlesbrough College Audiovisual Technology students who get to work with established bands and artists on a regular basis.
The College’s 156-seat commercial theatre and state-of-the-art music studios also give students the chance to hone their skills in a real industry environment.
Jack Laidlaw, higher education lecturer and course coordinator at Middlesbrough College, said: “This type of experience is invaluable to our students and the chance to get pointers from highly respected professionals like Andy and Ross is rare.
“When we were writing the programme it was extremely important to us that their expertise informed the course content, and we’re delighted that they continue to be involved with the degree.
“There are great opportunities in the music industry but it requires commitment and resourcefulness to build a career.
“Our students are not only given the practical skills and knowledge they need to succeed but also the crucial industry insights from people who have been there before them.”
Students can apply for Middlesbrough College Audiovisual Technology courses directly or via UCAS.