Well, it has been another busy week for #LADDERSMusic and they’ve enjoyed every minute of it! Their mentor, Sam Burt, set up another trip for the guys and it was certainly one to remember.

They met at the Quayside and made their way to the Live Theatre where they met staff from LEAF – a team of professionals who constructed an app that enables people to make playlists and listen to music. We had a chat with them in their cutest, quirky attic office, discussing about the app functions and how much they had invested into the company. One of the co-founders exclaimed: “music is where my heart is”, as he explained further that after having many jobs, he came to the conclusion that working in music to help others was something that would make him happy. The guys at LEAF showed us the app that they had made. It was amazing to gain further insight and the lads were particularly interested in how it works. They were also wowed by the LEAF app being a higher downloaded app than Spotify in various countries. They talked of their future plans and goals, one being that they want to make it easier for artists to be able to get in touch with their fan base in an effective, sufficient and cheaper way. Their main priority was to “create a place where people can share music”, which they are certainly doing a fantastic job at!

Overall it was certainly interesting for our students to see the hidden side of the industry, particularly exposing the amount of time that is put into making a music app. A few questions were asked by the group – they were interested in knowing if they had any local bands on their app and they mentioned that a band called Shields were on there, which is very encouraging for our students. LEAF told the group that they will eventually have to pitch themselves whether it be to a company or a recording label, meaning that having a business head is an all-rounded important skill to have.

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After the pleasure of meeting LEAF, the group headed over the other side of the river to Sage, Gateshead. Most of the group were amazed at the size of the place and how much can go on there at one given time! We started off with a tour by a member of staff called Emily who showed us Sage 2 – it was amazing! The sound quality that came out of the room fascinated the students. They then had a peak into Sage 1 which is the biggest room in the building, and my oh my, it was really big! They then had a look downstairs into the practice rooms and recording rooms in the building, whilst being informed on FE/HE courses that they could take there. It was surprising to hear the vast range of different topics that they could study.

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To end the day, the guys headed down to Ouseburn to BLAST studios, where they met Eric and Jenny who gave further insight on the role of a manager. They told them that “if you manage someone, it’s a 24/7 job” – in other words, a really big commitment. “What can I do that’s different?” was the recurring question throughout this session, with originality being such an intense challenge for musicians around the world. Our students were interested in what they had to say, as they recalled their own experiences. They advised on finding a record label and how to professionally approach them in order to convince them of your relevance and individuality. To summarise the day, Eric and Jenny highlighted that it’s actually better to have a manager in terms of image but to also be cautious and wary of what’s involved.

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The next day, Sam covered the ins and outs of PR. He scanned over printed/digital media, radio plug-in and club promotion – many of the aspects which appealed to the students in terms of what they want to work towards. Sam provided them with sampled documents, carefully covering what to look for in order to be aware of the misinterpretations and attempts to confuse the artist. Although this was all rather simplistic stuff and much less practical, it was a very relevant and important topic to cover for the sake of their personal and professional progression in the music industry.

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Ladders were honoured to be joined by Luthier, John Grierson – for those who are unaware of the role, John has the impeccable talent of dismantling/rebuilding guitars. Moreover, John has years of knowledge and experience, amazingly all self-taught through reading, watching and observing. Very inspiring, indeed. In addition to passing on his Luthier wisdom, he covered the basics such as instrument maintenance, tuning and controlling various tech problems that are likely to occur. John specialises in guitars which conveniently meant that all of our guitar-playing students felt comfortable and thoroughly involved in the experience.

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They were then joined by Sam’s equally talented brother, Dan Burt, who specialises in music production. He covered various aspects of composing in the studio, from sampling to music theory to orchestration and string arrangement. He exposed the real fun behind programming drum samples and making beats – essentially making your own sound library. Dan emphasised the importance of understanding this aspect of the music industry, and how other supporting websites such as Spitfire Audio, continue to make his career more fulfilling and progressive. The guys were completely absorbed in the rare opportunity to explore such a complex and fascinating form of post-vernacular composition, which they can then use to develop and expand on their artistry.

See you in week 5!