7 ways our Careers Team have adapted to the ‘New Normal’

13 May, 2020

When the UK government imposed a lockdown in mid-March, it meant that we had to adapt our usual way of doing things. For example, we could no longer have students in classrooms, plan and run packed-out gigs or host in-person Masterclasses with prestigious music professionals. But, with change comes the potential to evolve.

Our ever-creative and dedicated Careers Team came together and quickly adapted their ‘normal’ ways of providing invaluable career support. They decided that social-distancing doesn’t have to mean we can’t strengthen our industry connections nor continue to guide students into a life in music.

It’s been a challenging but very successful and impactful term. We have risen to the challenge and increased our output and connectivity. We have seen high engagement and very good feedback from students.

– Mark Bowers, Head of Music Industry and Artist Development, BIMM Institute Bristol

Take a look at the 7 ways our Careers Team have manoeuvred traditional ways of learning online and effortlessly taken their fast-paced and exciting careers programme into the digital sphere.

1) Virtual Live Gigs

Moving our student-centric gigs from venues to the virtual realm has been no mean feat for our Careers Team. However, Michelle Humphreys, Head of Artist Development and Events at BIMM Institute London and her team have been fast-moving and effective in creating a digital space for gigs during these challenging times.

Each week, they’ve been hosting From BIMM to The Bridge. This is a weekly live stream gig in partnership with BIMM London’s local venue, Under the Bridge. Every Thursday, three current BIMM London artists perform a 20-minute set, live from their home.  From BIMM to the bridge

So far, From BIMM to The Bridge has seen the likes of George Balkwill, Coco, Tascha Jerawan, Lucas Van Roekel, Qunitessenz, Anøma Lee, Mikey Martin, Kaia Vieira, Naila, FiFi and Marns perform to an online audience. Each artist is also interviewed by host Ian Sillett, Head of Songwriting.

We caught up with Michelle to find out more about the logistics behind their innovative change: “The selected artists all have to do an online test practice for the gig at the start of the week to make sure all of their equipment is working correctly,” says Michelle. “They then log on to Vimeo two hours before the gig starts on Thursday to do a line check. This is all taken care of by Under the Bridge […] Students need to do an internet speed test to make sure they have a decent enough upload speed. If not, we can pre-record their set.”

The gigs start at 6:30 pm every Thursday – and finish in time for each week’s Clap for our Carers to support the NHS. You can stream the live gigs every Thursday here.

BIMM’s famous End of Term shows are also going virtual. On June 10th, 2020 – for the first time in BIMM’s history – BIMM Institute Bristol are taking the live show online. Of course, this means that the application process is changing too. To apply for this year, students will need to film their auditions and send a private link via Moodle.

2) Virtual Club Nights for Producers and DJs

Just because you can’t get out there at the moment doesn’t mean you can’t showcase your talent. Each month, BIMM Bristol DJs are streaming a virtual club night on the BIMM Bristol Facebook page.

April’s edition of Party at Yours saw the likes of Clarabelle, DJ S.A.M, William and Enver go live from 8 pm to midnight with bass, garage, grime, and techno mixes. There were also plenty of cross-house collaborations (via Zoom of course). The May event will be taking place here.

3) Creating Digital Events

In response to the current pandemic, the team transformed BIMM’s regular WRKiT careers and networking event into WRKit Version 2.0 ‘Light at the end of the lockdown’. We caught up with Leo Nicholas, Head of Industry Liaison and Careers at BIMM Institute London to find out what the day involved:

“The online day consisted of conversation focusing on three themes: Proactivity, Positivity and Purpose. Our talks featured independent record labels Beggars Group and Young Turks, music industry marketing agency Blackstar London, and experienced freelance talent.”

In total, the three webinar sessions around the three themes saw over 150 students and alumni attending, proving that connection and networking can still take place in the face of uncertainty.

WRKit 's Light at the end of the lockdown

4) Taking Talent Match Online

Talent Manager Catriona Lundie-Loggie is continuing to support and place final year students and alumni in jobs across the music and creative industries. We caught up with her to find out how she’s streamlining students’ CVs and guiding their initial steps into the industry for when the lockdown is lifted.

“I’m currently booking in Talent Match 1-2-1s. In addition to CV and cover letter support, these dig deeper into individual drivers and motivations to tailor a plan of action according to the needs of the student/alumnus. That could include exploring industry sectors of interest or a specific organisation students are keen to know more about. I have also been asking for ‘wish lists’ of businesses, or even inspirational people they would like to work with, to discuss how I can help make those industry connections for them.”

Catriona has also been moving things into the online realm to help students prepare for life post-lockdown. “To tie in with WRKiT, I’ve recorded a mini-podcast (available on BIMM Connect) around the themes of Proactivity, Positivity and Purpose. This explores some ideas of things that might be useful to implement or learn how to make yourself job-hunt-ready after the lockdown is lifted.”

5) Moving Masterclasses Online

Our Careers Team haven’t let the current situation stop students from connecting with the big names in the industry. Here at BIMM Institute, we’re known for putting our students in the same room as some of the most prestigious music professionals – and now, they get to join them through online platforms such as Zoom.

So far this term, the Careers Team have run the following Masterclasses online:

  • Joss Stone
  • Fearne Cotton
  • Amelia Hartley – Head of Music at Endemol/Shine
  • Debbie Knox-Hewson
  • Jamiroquai Rhythm Section
  • Natasha Khan, Bat For Lashes
  • Charlie Pinder, Publisher
  • Ann Harrison, Music Lawyer
  • Glen Matlock, The Sex Pistols

Jamiroquai's rhythm section

Through our exclusive online Masterclasses, students have heard how the people they look up to achieved success, gained invaluable industry insights and taken part in Q&A sessions. For a couple of our online Masterclasses, students also had the opportunity to send in their covers for the chance to get live feedback from prestigious performers.

It’s truly great to have somebody speaking openly about their experiences and in a manner where everybody listening can relate. HUGE thanks to Joss Stone and the BIMM team.

– BIMM student Samuel Fox on the recent Joss Stone online Masterclass

Head of Artist and Guest Liaison Kathryn Craddock has also told us that many more incredible performers, producers, and industry professionals will be joining BIMM students online. For example, BRIT award and multi-million selling artist Will Young will be hosting a series of exclusive one-to-one vocal workshops online to help mentor our vocalists and songwriters.

6) Virtual Music Lessons

SAM Music Service run the ‘Teacher Development Programme’ (TDP) with us here at BIMM Institute to create shadow placements and employment opportunities for our students who want to go into teaching. In a matter of days after the lockdown was announced, SAM had moved their music tuition provision online, delivering guitar, drum, piano and vocal lessons via their web platform ‘mySAM’ and successfully facilitating thousands of lessons that should have been taking place in primary and secondary schools across the south coast of England.

Thanks to this flexibility, BIMM students can still observe lessons virtually and even host their own at the end of the TDP. SAM has continued to provide many individual tutorials for those interested in the opportunity and even set them up for future placements.

“At this time, it is very important for educators to act dynamically, adapt, and evolve, which SAM and BIMM Institute has done with great speed and success”, says Ben Stringer, Managing Director.

Ben told us about student Amber Dewstow who enjoyed her shadowing so much that she decided to apply to study the PgCert in Birmingham, has been accepted and will be able to teach for ‘SAM Online’ in the future. All this has been made possible from the partnership between SAM and BIMM.

While on the surface it may seem that there are limitations to online learning, in reality, there are many advantages that the current situation has revealed.

– Ben Stringer, Managing Director, SAM Music Service

7) Encouraging Online Collaboration

The Careers Team at BIMM Institute Brighton are continuing to bring students together from all disciplines. Andy Maclure, Head of Careers and Artist Development tells us what’s been happening recently – and how physical distance hasn’t stopped communication nor creativity.

“Brighton’s student-run label Pool Valley Music has now released six of the twelve planned tracks this year in partnership with label services company Republic of Music. The label project brings together creative and business students and helps to prepare them for life in the music industry.”

Experienced 3rd year and the BIMM Institute Brighton Artist Development staff mentor six teams of students, with each team choosing an artist to develop and release.

Even in lockdown, BIMM students have seen their hard work paid off. Brand new band Yellowlace had their first release produced by one of BIMM’s own production students, while more established artist RADIAS found their new track ‘Do It’ added to the influential Fresh Finds playlist on Spotify.

And as ever, the BIMM community is still going strong online with BIMM Connect. Students, graduates and staff/faculty are using the platform to connect with each other, collaborate, and create new projects in a time where we can’t be together physically. The Careers Team are still sharing relevant resources for students to find their place within the industry, such as the Directory, Jobs Board, Events and Group pages.

Our dedicated Careers Team have gone above and beyond to ensure that our students have every opportunity available to make the right connections to the right industry professionals and develop the skills needed to succeed in music. If you’re interested in learning more about our exciting Careers Programme and more about BIMM Institute, we are now offering Virtual Open Days. Sign up here.

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British and Irish Modern Music Institute