BA (Hons) Music Industries
Katherine didn’t have the best impression of Birmingham before she visited, but now can’t imagine what her life would have been like if she hadn’t attended BCU. After graduating from her degree in Music Industries, she is now excelling in her chosen industry and working at 5B Artists and Media, who represent heavy metal royalty such as Slipknot, Megadeth, Lamb of God, Trivium and many more.
“I come from a small village in North Wales, where the nearest shop was a fifteen-minute drive away and buses only came through once a day. I was itching for a busier lifestyle and a music scene, so just knew that university was right for me.
When I applied for university, I had my heart set on a music management course at a different university. At the time, I had a negative view of Birmingham and had no intention of studying there - I considered it a filler option!
BCU was the first university to offer me an interview, and when visiting, I was made to feel very welcome, wanted and valued - I was offered a conditional offer on the spot. After the interview, my dad showed me round the city centre, and I remember feeling overwhelmed and excitable walking around the Bullring and through the Christmas Market. I realised that the view I had of Birmingham beforehand was completely incorrect.
My whole career to date has gravitated around Birmingham. I started my journey in the music industry working at the Box Office at the O2 Institute, before being promoted to Venue Assistant whilst simultaneously working as a Club Manager at an alternative nightclub. I then joined The Ticket Factory as a Box Office Specialist - this later evolved to Event Ticket Manager for the NEC arenas - whilst juggling freelance opportunities, before joining the team at 5B in 2018.
My role requires for me to travel nationally and internationally to concerts/festivals, rehearsals, recording sessions and much more. As well as travelling, I spend a lot of my time budgeting for tours and music releases, project managing promotional campaigns and locking in press activities with artists. Outside of the ‘normal’ working day, I've organised art galleries, project managed live streams, supported NFT campaigns and even styled a photo shoot. No two days are the same
I have recently started managing my own artists at 5B so, in the future, I would like to build up my roster, with an emphasis on championing women in rock and metal.
For years, I rarely said no to extra work – paid or unpaid – and one summer I even used my entire annual leave allowance to work festivals. I wanted to be that 'go-to' person that employers would consider when an opportunity arose, build a strong network of contacts, and learn as much as possible.
Whilst I was at BCU, I started volunteering at music festivals - my first being Download Festival 2013. I remember being thrilled with the realisation that my shifts didn't clash with Slipknot, who headlined the Friday night. I've attended Download Festival every year since, working my way up the ranks to eventually attending as part of the management team representing Slipknot in 2019. I watched from the front of house tower feeling incredibly proud. It was a real full circle moment.
The course encouraged me to try out all different areas of the music industry, so I also learned a lot about events management, PR and journalism, where I developed skills that I continue to use to this day. In addition, the push to secure a work placement as part of the course and being tasked to set up our own record label in our first year, were two highly significant opportunities that really taught me about the realities of the industry.
BCU also helped to secure my first internship with a local music promoter. Once my placement came to an end, I was offered paid opportunities, and I even had the promoter as my reference on my CV when I applied for my first job at The Institute, who turned out to be a close contact of the employer and ultimately secured me the job. I credit BCU completely with helping me kick-start my career in music.
My relationship with BCU continues as I mentor current Music Business students as part of the courses professional industry mentor scheme, alongside giving guest lectures, and providing those all-important internships to help kick start the careers of the next generation of music industries professionals.
My advice for current students would be to use your time wisely. Be sure to fill up your free time with opportunities that will best serve you and your career for when you graduate - but don't forget to put time aside to rest up, study and live your life. Also, don't be scared to ask for guidance. BCU has a wonderful network of tutors, alumni, clients, and contacts with mountains of experience between them. Take advantage of that!
I AM BCU is a celebration of those who went out there and did it. It's a message that says to people "I can do it, you can too".”