Two BIMM Institute Students secure Journalism position at Rhino

30 September, 2020

Our careers team at BIMM Institute can help provide students with industry connections, support and can even help source appropriate roles for students who are looking for employment within the music industry. Two students from BIMM Institute London have been lucky enough to secure a paid position at Rhino. We caught up with them to discuss their successes further.

Rhino is the catalogue development and marketing division of Warner Music Group,  primarily focusing on reissues in the physical and digital world. They have a firm emphasis on their flawless sound quality, bonus tracks, informative liner notes, award-winning creative packaging, and a strong social conscience. The catalogue consists of more than 5,000 releases, including material by Led Zeppelin, Eagles, David Bowie, Fleetwood Mac, Aretha Franklin, The Doors, Chicago, Ray Charles, Black Sabbath, John Coltrane, Yes, Phil Collins, The Ramones, and The Monkees, among many others.

Hazel Smith, Third Year Songwriting student at BIMM London

Hazel Smith - BIMM InstituteHazel Smith is the former lead singer for rock band D’Haze and is now embarking on a new solo journey with her project, H A Z E, whose first single ‘King’ is to be released on October 16th. Aside from her music, Hazel leads many different lives: she worked for CNN’s Paris Bureau in 2015 and 2016 before moving to London to pursue her career in music. She is also a photographer, a freelance PR consultant and organises live music events in London.

How important is music journalism to music scenes?

Music journalism is the best way to make a name for yourself as an artist. From small blogs and zines to major reviews and publications, it’s the best way to get things started. At some point, when you begin building social media campaigns, your number of followers might hit a plateau and reaching a new public to actually follow you and stream your songs can prove difficult. So press clips and articles are the best way to get new people to hear about you and spark interest in playlist curators’ eyes.

At a much higher level, music journalism contributes to an artist’s legend, image and reputation. It is not unheard of that some reviews can make or break an artist’s new release, but it also can paint the best picture of their persona and career.

How did your course prepare you for this new endeavour?

I took the Vocals diploma and am currently in my third year of Songwriting. I actually worked in journalism before moving to London and studying at BIMM, but I specialised in Politics and breaking news, so quite far from what I am doing today. However, being an artist myself and being immersed in the business hive that BIMM represents for musicians for the past three years has helped me apply my previous writing skills to this whole new discipline. It has helped me write about music from a more personal point of view, and talk about artists as a whole rather than focusing only on their craft.

How did you come to work at Rhino?

Career tutorials! They are so important. We all have artist development lectures in our degrees but actually having a one-on-one session (in my case with Michelle Humphreys) is the best way to get proper advice, tailored to your goals and profile. And it’s a great way to connect and make opportunities happen. It’s one of the best resources here at BIMM so make sure you utilise it as much as possible!

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve written for Rhino and why?

My article on Madonna because I actually learned a lot about her in the process. The editors send us title suggestions, and we are at liberty to interpret that any way we want to pick our angle. There was one that simply said “In Bed with Madonna” and it made me think of how little I actually do know about her, so I thought it would be a good challenge to write this one. I did a lot of research before picking my angle and watched her 1990 Blond Ambition tour movie, Truth or Dare, also titled In bed with Madonna. I was so surprised at how intimate it was and how personal a picture the director painted of Madonna, Queen of Pop, so I centred my article on that.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a career in the music industry?

Whether you’re on the business side or the creative side – or both, like me – never stop trying. It’s such a crowded industry that is really hard to break into, but perseverance will get you there at some point. Talk to people, get back to them to show your motivation, chase (good and serious) opportunities, do not be afraid to ask for help when you need or give help when you can, collaborate, and most importantly, do not expect things to just happen and land on your lap. You have to make things happen.

Do you have a highlight from your time at BIMM Institute?

Too many; I can’t count! I absolutely loved my diploma year, and of course all the showcases I’ve had a chance to play. I’m hoping that we can get on these incredible stages again real soon.

Connor Winyard, recent Journalism Graduate from BIMM London

Connor Winyard - BIMM Institute Aside from being a recent Journalism graduate, Connor runs his own magazine, Decade Mag and was the editor for BIMM’s LDN Magazine for two years. He’s written for Global Sound Group, Republic Media, and has recently been lucky enough to undertake a contributor position at Rhino. Besides music, Connor has a keen interest in classic video games, football and flags of the world.

How important is music journalism to music scenes?

Admittedly, music journalism once played a more prominent role in the music underground; fanzines filled the pockets of punters outside scruffy venues, and NME and Melody Maker were once rival emperors of far-reaching kingdoms. However, there is a new level of importance that music journalism delivers today. Separating the good from the bad (the magnificent from the abysmal, more aptly) is increasingly difficult yet vital, considering that now pretty much everyone can be a pop star (and rightly so). Plus, the tomes of old are often lost and retelling the stories that made music fans shudder, cry and stunned with awe properly, with all the little key details left in, is as essential now as it ever was.

How did your course prepare you for this new endeavour?

Working with some of the very best in the business has its benefits, to say the least. Very exciting opportunities are thrown everywhere, from interviewing undeniable legends to doing a stint at some of journalism’s most prestigious publications (the BBC, The Guardian, you name it). Plus, three years of honing a craft with like-minded people was an absolute pleasure; feedback is given every step of the way from both peers and lecturers so that when the time comes, all the hard work pays off and you have a CV and little pockets of experience that prepare you for even the most demanding of roles.

How did you come to work at Rhino?

Speaking of opportunities, this one was handed to me on a silver platter. My course leader thought I’d fit the role well and put my name forward. I wrote a few things that they were after, and a few months down the line it turned into my first paid writing position (albeit a freelance, as-and-when situation).

What’s your favourite piece that you’ve written for Rhino and why?

A brief (yet largely unabridged) piece on mystical Japanese rock band Les Rallizes Dénudés. The lead singer disappeared in 1997, and the bassist hijacked a plane in 1970, before fleeing to North Korea. I’ll leave the rest to be revealed when the article is published.

What advice would you give to someone looking for a career in the music industry?

It’s hard, but if you love music and love music journalism, it won’t feel like work too often. One of my lecturers (who has since left for a much-deserved big role) mentioned the dangers of loving music, but not loving music journalism as much. Admittedly, I never had this problem; my love for music is always enough to compel me to try and inform (or warn) about all the music I’m listening to, and to tell stories in some kind of new and exciting way.

The other main thing is to build a solid portfolio, and this applies to pretty much everyone. Have some kind of website or blog or anything with all the work you can publish on it; be it videos, articles, lists, photos, audio, whatever. It will eventually garner attention and makes you look serious enough about your craft to release it to the world.

Perhaps the hardest thing is to remain on the industry train after you graduate, when money becomes tight or when the leads and opportunities temporarily dry up. I currently work in care for young adults, and it can be very hard to remember to read and write about your passions around work. I am extremely lucky (and one hell of a procrastinator) and a lot of opportunities tend to fall into my lap.

It takes a lot of willpower for me to apply for positions or look for new angles to write about, but when I do, it’s like clockwork. But as long as you grab opportunities, seize networking events, stay in touch with musically-inclined friends and keep tabs on exciting new movements, you should be more than ready for when the next big thing appears. I’d also recommend listening to everything. Nothing quite satisfies the soul and widens perspective than discovering some

European post-punk group from 1983 who sound dirtier than your local nightclub’s dance floor.

Do you have a highlight from your time at BIMM?

There are a few that stand out. Sitting on the stairs by the roof winding up Barney Greenway of Napalm Death about Aston Villa is up there, as is going to Manchester for a journalism convention and falling more in love with Joy Division than I could ever have possibly imagined. But, chairing Vinyl Club was probably the best; there’s nothing quite like sitting down in a darkened room with your mates, squealing over the magic of Tom Waits, Kylie and everything in between.

Make sure you check out what our Careers Team is up to. They provide students with wonderful opportunities and industry connection!

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