Graduate Jamie Ford

Graduating from the BA (Hons) Music Promotion course in 2014, Jamie is currently the Promotion and Marketing Manager for The 1865 in Southampton. 

Graduate Profile:

Where are you from and how was it moving to Southampton (if you moved from further away)

I’m from Southampton so I had no issues moving away. I did move into student housing in my second and third year so I could be closer to the library and university facilities, and fully experience the ‘university lifestyle’.

What course did you study on?

BA (Hons) Music Promotion

Why did you choose that course?

When leaving college I had two main interests: Music, and Media. This course seemed to combine the two in a complimentary way in order to allow me to turn my interest in to a career. As a musician, I grew bored of performance courses at college but always had a keen eye to learn about the music industry. I wanted to learn about the behind-the-scenes workings: how did that record get on the shelves? How did that artist get into that magazine? Who put The Vaccines in The Joiners? I wanted to be the person responsible for all these.

Best bits/memories of your course?

The best bits would have to be meeting industry legends & professionals at different university-run conferences. I have managed to keep a relationship going with a number of these professionals after reaching out to them prior to meeting. Some of them have helped me get work experience/internships; some have helped my band, and others I still meet up with whenever I’m in London. As a student this is exciting stuff in a “that could be me” kind of way.

Other great memories include running the headline event for SMILEfest 2014 with my group, learning to build a website from scratch and being taught by the publicist of a band who were the soundtrack to my youth.

What work experience did you undertake at University, and what did you gain from it?

During my 2nd year of university I was unsure what area of the industry I wanted to venture into – live music or PR/marketing, so my aim was for experience to confirm this for me. In June 2013 I worked at Isle of Wight Festival as one of the Artist Liaison team. From that I learned more about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ workings of festivals, including the pressure and potential stress (and also got to meet Zane Lowe and Debbie Harry!).

I then gained an internship at a music website/platform named Music Gateway as a Social Media & Marketing Assistant. This was my first insight into using social media and blogs as marketing tools in a professional environment.

I left Music Gateway after around 4/5 months as I had been successful in an interview for an internship with Wichita Recordings. An Independent record label home to the likes of The Cribs, Bloc Party, Los Campesinos!, First Aid Kit, Simian Mobile Disco and many more. At Wichita I learned the ins-and-outs of the daily running of an indie label such as: updating touring schedules, mail-outs to customers and fellow record shops, compiling journalistic contact lists, website maintenance, recommending new artists and much more. Wichita also has a management side (Wichita Management), which meant that I also got a taste for artist management. Working with a label and management was exactly what I wanted to do, and there were no limits to my learning activity throughout these 5-6 months.

Other work experiences include: Promotion Assistant for So Young Magazine (this I am still involved with), A&R/PR Assistant for Strong Island Recordings, and Promotions Assistant at The Joiners.

If there’s anything you could have done different in your time at University, what would it have been?

I probably would have started gaining external work experience a bit earlier. Although I ended up gaining a lot during my 3rd year, I could have spread this out into 2nd year a bit better to put less pressure on my final year.

When learning the art of code (HTML/CSS) during first year, I felt I had learned a lot that would be beneficial to me in the future in the creative industries. This, however, was easily forgotten/dismissed after a long period of not keeping up the practice. I do wish that I kept this up for a long period afterwards so that by now, I could competently build a professional website.

What is your current occupation, and how did you come to have this role?

Promotion & Marketing Manager at The 1865. (750 capacity venue in Southampton)

The 1865 were advertising for an extra hand on the promotions/diary side of things to help propel the new venue forward. After a recommendation from Chris Anderton, Paul Hooper (venue manager) got in touch with me, and after an interview discussing my experience at Wichita and at The Joiners, I was successful and had the job that evening. It’s a really enjoyable and rewarding role with a lot of responsibility. Things are looking very promising at the moment, and we have some exciting things in the pipeline, which we can’t wait to announce and excite Southampton with.

How did you find the hunt for a job upon finishing university?

With the help of websites such as UKMusicJobs, and digging out emails of my favourite record labels/PR agencies, making an approach was no problem. The difficult bit was getting a response after this. The best way for me was to always expect nothing back, and if I was proved wrong then great! I did however get a response 70% of the time, which lead to a number of interviews and finally, my current employment.

If you know exactly what area of the industry you’d like to work in, and the CV is tailored for each job application, getting a response should be no problem.

How did you make yourself stand out?

A lot of my interviewers, especially in London, were very intrigued by my experience gained during my time of interning at Wichita Recordings. Employers could see that although I was from Southampton, I was more than willing to commute/relocate and that I had credible work experience. I think my amount of work experiences on my CV helped me to stand out. During my interview for the internship, Gareth at Wichita Recordings said “S***, you’ve done a lot of free labour!”.

What would be your advice to recent graduates/those currently studying?

Build up your work experiences, it really helps your CV for when you leave university and makes you learn about the industry a hell of a lot quicker. It’s a very dynamic industry but also hugely competitive, think of it as a competition and try to make your CV the best. I always thought of it as building up different levels of experience but also proving my dedication to the music industry. If you have the knowledge (the degree), the experience, and the dedication… there’s not a lot more an employer can ask for.