Working on a record label

 19 November 2014

On 11th November Oh Yeah Music Centre hosted the 'Working a Record Label' competition in association with Creative & Cultural Skills. Students from Belfast Metropolitan College and North West Regional College took part in the day.

The teams of students acted as mini record labels developing festival plans, album artwork and press releases for the band R51.
The teams of students acted as mini record labels developing festival plans, album artwork and press releases for the band R51.

Back in the day, UK record labels were heavily populated by barrow boys and rough diamonds. That was certainly part of the charm. They had the front, they could make the sale and the best of them were smitten by music.

They started their careers in the post room and by the time they had risen up the organisation, they knew the industry intimately. 

In the past 30 years, the music industry has been rationalised. There are fewer major labels, but the independent sector has expanded.

There is still a place for the fast-talking graduate from the University of Life but there are also many more recognised career paths and skills development opportunities. Which is why the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast teamed up with Creative & Cultural Skills to devise a workshop called ‘Working a Record Label’.

'Working a Record Label' 

The premise was simple. Two competing colleges would pitch to a promising band called R51. They would work to a modest budget, but would present a two-year strategy of live dates, promo opportunities, releases and international events. They would consider visuals, merchandising, social media and more.

Everyone understood the brief and worked with the knowledge that a good music enterprise will combine a multitude of skills. 

Happily, the workshop was a success. Belfast Metropolitan College and North West Regional College produced spreadsheets, festival plans, album artwork and press releases.

They showed an awareness of touring logistics and understood the power of the T-shirt sale. They were mentored by local record labels and they consulted with a graphic designer, a publicist and a recording studio boss.

The pitches were tremendous. Everyone understood the brief and worked with the knowledge that a good music enterprise will combine a multitude of skills.

This took place in Oh Yeah, a dedicated music hub that also houses eight music businesses and was in the middle of an eight day programme called Sound Of Belfast.

The message was clear: musicians can still attain commercial success, but it takes a legion of professionals and specialist skills to help them to attain it. It’s only rock and roll, as Mick Jagger once stated, but it’s still a dynamic industry. 

Stuart Bailie is a former Assistant Editor of the NME and CEO of the Oh Yeah Music Centre


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