Founded in 2017, Melodic Distraction is an independent internet station based in Liverpool that hosts over 150 monthly shows and has recently opened a live events space. Izzy joined the team in May 2021 on a six-month Creative Kickstart placement, having discovered the opportunity through a post on Instagram. Since joining, Izzy has been employed permanently as the Head of Communications.

Can you tell us about some of your previous work experience?

I’d previously worked on this big conference in Oxford that involved managing over 100 delegates and there was a lot of hospitality, communications, and general organisation. I also ran a few societies at Uni that involved organisation and social media roles too. I’d then taken it upon myself to get more training in the music industry, so I went to study at the School of Electronic Music in Manchester where I was studying music production and DJing and mastering various technical skills.

Has the Kickstart placement shifted your career plans at all, if so, how?

Yes definitely, just being able to work in radio and even with the DJing, it’s really helped me to put myself out there into the world of the music industry, which can be very daunting. Without doing the Kickstart, I don’t think I’d be pursuing the career I am now.

Can you tell us about your role?

There’s a lot to it, there’s the day-to-day variation and then there’s the core skills I’ve been learning and employing throughout. One key area is organisation – I’ve been leading the communications and every month we have over 180 hosts, so I check in with everyone to send out show confirmations, make sure everything is in the schedule and ensure everyone knows what’s happening.

Then there’s the radio production side which is more technical in terms of using the CBJ and mixer equipment and there’s different software – I use Viper, Audio Hijack, OBS, so I’ve been learning a lot about how radio works and the mechanics around it. I also help with events in the new space, so that involves generating ideas, developing marketing strategies and growing the social media presence. I’ve also had a bit of experience in radio hosting and DJing which has been sick.

I think one of the main things for me is working with a tight knit team – working really closely with six people on a day-to-day basis. I’m learning so much from that which is great and it’s been a massive part of this experience. Inevitably when there are problems as well, solution-finding has been a real skills development area for me.

‘Kickstart allows you to do something that without it, you’d have had to choose at the age of 16 or 18 at college or uni. You’d really struggle to be at the age I was at 22 and make this career change. It should continue and be offered to so many more young people who didn’t decide they wanted to do it at 16 or 18.’

Izzy Barber in the Melodic Distraction studio

‘I’ve really been encouraged to put my own ideas forward and to have a go at different things and to learn – I’ve felt really supported to develop and understand even when I’ve made mistakes, it’s always been treated in a positive or constructive way.’

Have there been any specific highlights for you?

We’ve had some great events on, I quite enjoyed doing a back-to-back and playing on it as well which involves liaising with people and marketing the show and then being able to partake. The events are so varied, it’s not just DJs, for example a few weeks ago one of our hosts did a candle lit piano set. Another highlight has been getting to meet all the hosts and meeting people everyday whose main passion in life is music, which is really inspiring and great for networking and connections and bouncing ideas off people.

Has the placement helped develop your confidence and how?

Yes massively. Confidence in terms of what I’m capable of technically, but also, I’ve really been encouraged to put my own ideas forward and to have a go at different things and to learn – I’ve felt really supported to develop and understand even when I’ve made mistakes, it’s always been treated in a positive or constructive way.

What would you say to someone considering applying for a Kickstart (or similar) work placement?

I would 100% recommend it. I think there are quite limited work experience placements generally and it’s important that you’re getting paid for it so you can make the job your focus and have a chance to make it into a career. It’s great for someone that has a real passion or interest but doesn’t have the specific skills for the role because you do learn them.

About Creative Kickstart

Kickstart is a job creation scheme by The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that provides funding to employers to create six-month job placements for 16-24 year olds currently receiving Universal Credit.

As a gateway organisation for Kickstart, we’ve been working with the sector since July 2021 to support the creation of roles for unemployed young people through our Creative Kickstart programme, funded by the DWP. Since the programme started, it has given over 100 young people six-month job placements within the creative and cultural industries and we expect to see that increase to over 400 before March 2022. Find out more.