When it comes to young people leaving education and being thrust into the real-world of mortgages, careers and bills, things can seem extremely daunting. From a young age, children are taught to believe that they can be or do whatever they want if they work hard; a sentiment which often leads to feelings of disillusion in later life. With youth unemployment numbers remaining high, although said to be decreasing with 2.5 million aged 16 and over unemployed at the end of 2012, many young people struggle with the concept of measuring success. If we don't know what success actually is, then how do we measure it?
I set up my company, The Starling Sessions in response to this, to support young people breaking into the music industry both in creative and practical terms. Simply getting a job is challenging when there are reports of around 500 applicants for each position, so in terms of people getting a job that they actually enjoy it can seem that the odds are working against most.
Being successful means different things to different people, and is often measured by material things. Through goal-setting, attendees of The Starling Sessions can help to define and measure success in order to help them to land the career they create. Whether that is performing sell-out gigs at the O2 arena, or having an agency with five amazing artists on their books, the mentors involved use their expertise in order to coach artists and entrepreneurs to reach their life-goals.
After working within the music industry for many years, before going on to work as a Project Manager with brands such as Warner Bros, EMI and Sony, I decided to set-up an experience based artist development company. As a lecturer in Event's Management at King's College, I work with so many young people who have bags of talent, and I give them practical methods in how to channel it into doing something brilliant. Whilst education teaches the basics, support from the creative industries can often be underestimated, and so my idea was to set up a company which helps to encourage and nurture talent alongside teaching the elements which will translate into the real world.
The Starling Sessions offers fourteen different courses aimed at helping budding musicians to enter the industry, with key sessions which range from Planning and Momentum, to the legalities of the music industry:
Success in Music is aimed at giving students an overview of everything covered by The Starling Sessions, including management, media training, branding and funding. It's a great opportunity to learn all aspects of the industry in one course.
There are also more niche courses which focus on singular elements of the industry including; Planning and Momentum, which teaches attendees to realistically plan a launch into the industry, and then how to maintain the buzz once they're in.
Songwriting Sessions: An interactive session with mentor Mike King aimed at developing attendees' creativity and improving vocal technique.
Event/Gig/Live Production: This particular course focuses on negotiating fees, health and safety and sound engineering in order to learn the foundations in putting on a live show.
Starting up in the music business: A session led by David Elkabas, co-founder of MN2S, helps those who are taking their first steps towards making waves within the music business.
My first mentoring company the I Am Awards was set up in 2009 to award unsigned and independent artists within the UK. The scheme had ambassadors including the likes of UK hip-hop artist Smiler, who we worked with to promote his talent. For me, The Starling Sessions is a grass- roots continuation of the I Am Awards, beginning by defining success before looking at ways to implement strategy in order to surpass this. By 2015 we aim to see 5% of unsigned artists in the top 40, and although we are currently based in London we will have expanded to Oxford and Manchester by the end of this year. The goal is to coach as many artists and entrepreneurs as we possibly can and although a number one single is the ideal, there are so many goals to fulfil along the way.
In these challenging times, mentoring is as a way of providing support to young people. As well as helping to reach career goals, these types of sessions help to build confidence and give an impartial insight into the music industry, from the people who have and are experiencing it firsthand. The mentors who make up the core team, singer Mike King, Head of Music at Indiegogo Karen Bair and co-founder of MN2S David Elkabas are not only currently working within the industry but have a track record of working with some of the biggest names in the music industry, having gained skills which they can now pass on to those less experienced.
We are on a drive to bring people together, in order to help them succeed. Rather than feel de-motivated by the statistics, we are looking at helping individuals and not numbers. Those more experienced are taking the time to help with those who are up-and-coming. Together we can inspire and smash through our personally designed targets to reach a better future.
Leanne Page is the Founder of The Starling Sessions, now taking place at Port-of-Entry, Old Street. For further information please visit www.thestarlingsessions.com