Join us for an open day in Brighton. Book your place here

We’re excited to announce that Phil Taggart will be running exclusive one-to-one career development sessions for our WaterBear students.

Phil has been a champion of new music on his Radio 1 show for years, he runs his own record label, presents the UK’s biggest music podcast, Slacker, and recently released his book ‘Slacker Guide to the Music Industry’ which helps new musicians navigate the world of releasing music.

He knows his stuff. And it’s fair to say he is the man any upcoming musician wants to get in front of and pick his brains one on one. So we’re thrilled we can provide our students with the opportunity to do exactly that!

Our first round of Phil Taggart's Career Clinics will be taking place next week.

UCAS is a vital part of the university application process in the UK. And it's something you'd have to do if you wanted to apply for our BA course at WaterBear, the college of music. Your UCAS application is what communicates to universities your reasons for studying at Higher Education. Although it seems intuitive, it is often a confusing and intimidating process for students.

We want all WaterBear applicants to thrive and reach their full potential, so we have put together some of the best ways to nail your UCAS application.

Sell yourself both musically and professionally

We know you have what it takes, but if you don’t tell us, we’ll never know! The personal statement is the perfect place for you to tell us about who you are. Make sure to include any and all musical experiences that have formed your career goals and aspirations. When it comes to qualifications, tell us your most recent qualifications to date and what you are currently studying for. And finally, references. Make sure your referees know you musically. Include everything UCAS asks of you, and you are on to a winner!

Be specific about your reasons to study at Higher Education

We receive a huge amount of applications so the more direct you can be the better. Alongside selling yourself and your experience we want to know why a music degree is right for you. Also, why this course specifically? What will having this degree help you achieve? Will this be a vehicle to your greater goals? Remember, this course is for you, so we want you to get the most out of it and steer you in the right direction.

Check in regularly to find out about UCAS application updates

As you’re preparing your application you should become well acquainted with the UCAS track. This is where any and all updates to your application will appear. Often people will check once or twice and leave thinking they were either unsuccessful or their application did not go through. This is almost never the case, check regularly as this is where you will find out any decisions.

Don’t discount your talent – demonstrate both passion and skill

The advantage of WaterBear being a boutique university is that we review every UCAS application on a case-by-case basis. So even if your results aren’t what you expected don’t be put off. We assess everyone with a mixture of academic results but also musical skill / experience. If you show you have the passion and skill then we will make sure we support you.

If you would like to book a consultation then get in touch via [email protected]

You can see details of all of our courses and departments here.

Applying for our MA / online music degree courses

Similarly to our BA courses you will be required to have a consultation ahead of your application. What makes this different however is the application goes directly to us. All the same advice applies, make sure you’re thorough and provide evidence along with everything.The link to the direct application for the course will be sent to you on completion of your consultation and once WaterBear have confirmed their recommendation of an offer to you.

APEL advice

If you feel you have covered the content of a module/ modules via your work/ life experience but have no official qualification, APEL is a way to provide the evidence to show this and to gain credit for it. This is basically using your CV as evidence to join the course. Contrary to many rumours there is no charge for this!

APEL applications must be completed within two weeks and must be an accurate statement of your experience. This is different to your personal statement which reflects why you think the course is right for you. You must provide three pieces of evidence of experience alongside this. These can be live footage, recordings, posters, articles, etc.

If you have any questions regarding your UCAS application please don’t hesitate to get in touch via [email protected]

You can find details on all of our degree courses and departments here.

As someone that's creative and whose life involves time spent in music business (whether you're a musician or working behind the scenes), there will be at least one person in your life trying to drag you across the coals for it.

There’s no way to live a meaningful life without critics, naysayers, and sometimes haters getting in the way. They’re part of the human experience. However, it’s your job to not allow them to stop you from living your life, enjoying music and thriving in your work and personal life.

If you're finding negativity is holding you back due to the actions of others, try following these tips to avoid allowing the critics in your life to influence and halt you:

  1. Find your purpose. If you are doing something that's very important to you, try to care far less about the criticisms of others. However, if they can easily throw you off your path and your vision, you might want to consider finding another path. Are you living your purpose? If not, determine what you want to do with your life. If it has to be a career in music, find a way (consider mentoring) that works for you.

  1. Understand why people are being unsupportive. The people that criticise you are often just trying to be annoying for reasons many times only known to themselves. They enjoy getting under your skin and being noticed (attention seekers). People are also hateful when you start doing well. No one likes to be left behind or face the truth of their own mediocre existence. Jealousy can become toxic extremely quickly; finding a better path is highly recommended.

  1. Focus on your mission. Train yourself to be more focused and determined when criticism comes your way. This way, the more the critics bark, the more you’ll accomplish. Most people are distracted by criticism, it disrupts harmony and productivity. Don’t be like most people. Discover how to remain in the “flow” for longer and remain productive. It’s time to unleash your inner productivity monster.

  1. Notice that critics are a small part of the population. We notice negative feedback more than we notice positive. This has been demonstrated in numerous studies. We think there are more people working against our efforts than there really are. Most people are actually indifferent to you and your life.

  1. Realise that you’re going to be criticised no matter what you do. Success or failure, there is someone that will tell you that you’re doing the wrong thing. Since you’re going to hear negative comments no matter what you do, do what matters the most to you and do your best to ignore the naysayers.

  1. Respond calmly to negativity. Avoid giving your critics the pleasure of an emotional response. Respond with kindness, and you’ll often find they soften their criticism or apologise. If you ignore them, they’ll either become angry or bored.

  1. Use your critics as motivation. While some people are intimidated and deflated by the haters of the world, others are able to use the negative comments as a source of motivation. Use your critics’ words as fuel for your success. If your music receives a negative review (whether it’s from press/media or public), try to look objectively at the writer’s words as there might be constructive criticism that can help improve your songs. Avoid publicly naming and shaming as this will not help you, and could potentially close doors. Decide if they have something useful to say. Some criticism can be helpful. If you receive specific criticism, consider if it might be true. Adapt your approach if necessary. If the criticism isn’t helpful, let it roll off your back and move on to positive tasks. You have more important things to do.

  1. Take criticism as a compliment. Most people will leave you alone if you’re struggling. You only become a significant target of negative comments if you’re doing well. If you’re taking a lot of heat, it's likely you are doing something right!

In conclusion, avoid allowing the “haters” in your life to derail your plans. Toxicity feeds toxicity just like positivity grows positivity. Live your life without the need for the approval of others.

If you’re spending your time on activities that truly matter to you, the criticism you receive will have far less impact on you. Just remember, you’re probably doing well if critics are barking in your ear.

Catch up with the latest insights from WaterBear here.

So you’ve played the local circuit. Perhaps you have previously booked your own DIY tour or maybe joined an established artist on a run of dates. You feel like your live set up is on point and you’re ready to perform in front of a booking agent; but how do you do it?

Having had success in achieving this whilst being an independent artist, as well as having first-hand experience of working at a Booking Agency. In this article, I’ll be advising on best practices to maximise your chances of showcasing yourself in front of an agent.

Where do I start?

Much like the rest of the music business, the A&R department from any avenue of the industry acts on two things. Hearing great music and the knowledge that an artist has started to build a team around them. The latter point is frustrating, it’s a chicken or the egg scenario but remember, you have total control over the first point. So crucially - and this should go without saying - make sure that only your best quality songs and recordings represent you online.

Now you’re probably used to looking out for support slots by paying attention to show announcements from your local promoters and venues. Say you’ve spotted a show with a headliner that you feel your project would compliment as part of a bill.  Well, if that show is part of a tour, nine times out of ten that artist will have a booking agent. The best way to find this information out is by looking at the ‘About’ section on the artist’s Facebook page. Let's say hypothetically that you’ve approached the promoter and you’ve been invited onto the bill at your local venue… now it’s crunch time. I’ll let it be known that an Agent will most likely appear at either their artist's hometown show or a show in the city that the agent resides.

What next?

When I was an independent Brighton based artist,  I had undertaken all of the aforementioned steps and as luck would have it, the agent that represented the headline band lived and worked in Brighton. So it was time to reach out. Now agents have very full inboxes, they are busy people and maybe not always looking for an artist to pitch to them. So the best thing you can do is keep your email concise, compliment their roster and attach links with a brief bio in the form of a one-sheet. You, of course, want to invite them down to the show also! Whilst you may not hear back right away, you can be sure that the invitation would have been received.  If you haven’t heard anything back a week before the show then a polite follow up won’t hurt. And that just so happened to be how my independent band ended up playing in front of a booking agent.

Where do booking agents look?

Some years later I would end up working for that very same agency and became involved in scouting and A&R co-ordinating. What I can say is that finding new talent is always at the forefront of an agents mind and they have many streams in which they keep across new and emerging talent.  The most important of which are networking with industry contacts, listening to BBC Introducing, Emerging Talent Spotify Playlists and reading independent music press.

Having a booking agent want to work with you will open a lot of doors and could be the catalyst that enables you to quickly have an entire team around you. They are the gatekeepers to good shows, tours and that all-important show guarantee fee. So when you do catch wind of an agent who wants to come and check you out… do. not. waste. that. opportunity! Rehearse four times more than you ever would and make your friends, family and fans understand the importance of their attendance. An agent will only come and see you once, so if you’re opening and playing to an empty room then I’m afraid you will witness them walk out the venue as you perform. And no one wants that, do they?!

Hello, I'm Ade Dovey and I have worked in the Venue and Live Music Industry for over 15 years. My professional background has focused on developing new venues to launch into the market. Mainly grassroots venues operated by independent companies and/or via third party teams such as promoters who managed venues alongside stakeholders, shareholders and private landlords.

In the build-up to the pandemic, I had moved from the multi-venue grassroots sector to coordinate events, content and live music in the Arena and Theatre venue realm overseeing various North West and North East locations such as Manchester Arena, Newcastle Utilita Arena, Leeds First Direct Arena, Aberdeen P&J Live Arena and Bonus Hull Arena (operated by ASM Global formerly SMG Europe). Within this role, I would be responsible to programme sustainable and financially viable events up to 21,000 Capacity. Ranging from Popular Artists, Sporting Events, Comedy, Live Cinema with Classical Soundtracks.

Before this, I coordinated many venues including Manchester’s Albert Hall, Gorilla and The Deaf Institute (for the company Mission Mars).  These venues focused purely on contemporary bands and DJs in and around 750 events a year over 200,000 ticket-buying customers in and out as well as being responsible as ‘Head of Programming’ managing a team of 10 professionals who coordinated ticketing, social media, support artists, administration, production and club events.

Inside the logistics of venue management

The main goals and objectives with working in one or multiple venues (as the main principles apply for one up to several) is to achieve a healthy calendar/diary system and point of contact for all departments in the event booking universe. In order to visualise this, you tend to adopt the mindset that if your venue had arms, hands, a nucleus and the ability to communicate well, then that is you as the programming manager. On a daily basis, you will be networking constantly and consistently with external promoters both locally and nationally ranging from new promoters and local allies up to Live Nation, Kili Live, DHP Concerts, AEG and more. At the same time, you will be coordinating many valuable and intricate threads of details in ticketing, marketing, production (Sound and Lights), logistics,  tour managers, event reps (show contact), drivers, local authorities, venue teams and staff as well as additional stakeholders (finance, business owners, IT, local press, interns, student union, human resources and more depending on the business model).

The role of programming manager

As a programming manager, the communication or systematic approach to having a healthy diary system is dependent on the quality of your resources. This includes contacts within the local music scene, national scene and band/talent knowledge and is essential you have motivation and a ‘mission statement’ followed by a plan knowing what audiences you want to attract based on your venues appeal and target demographic. It’s vital that your initial aim is to know what is to be expected of the quality of your booking approach so you can build and build on attracting the right promoters, booking agents and artists so that you create a vibrant cultural seasonal/annual listings which open the doors to more bookings.

The power of your voice

With technology forever expanding and goalposts moving it’s essential to focus on your tone and language online and in each establishment in order to speak to your audience and relate in order to not just book the right bands but to make sure it’s financially viable and within budget in order to obtain a sustainable and economically sound business model. Some venues are natural at developing this from the launch, however some older venues who want to adapt might struggle and require the right team and skilled staff to advance in the competitive market.

It’s also worth to note not all venues have adequate budget to employ resourceful staff and (as I have experienced personally) you might be doing a lot of the work yourself and once successful, usually after financial year 2, you can progress to outsource an assistant or reliable ticketing and social media staff. It’s very rare for one individual to be able to programme, production manage, ticket manage and be an expert on social media and often the dilemma is due to time management as the live bookings industry rarely slows down and you will need to be able to respond and communicate well with composure without taking a breath or even being able to put the kettle on.

Planning your year

Generally, you are at peak performance and business 9-10 months of the year and utilise the other two quieter touring periods to refresh your systems, analyse your approach and coordinate opportunities for the next busy year. The touring season tends to start from September and slow down just before Christmas, the NYE section is often quiet for bands but a great time to create business with DJ events. January is regarded as an admin month but a very busy period follows February into June. Festival season often counteracts the summer months programming but allows you to prepare for student return and making sure you’re booked up every prime day (Weds-Sat) and often battle out the calendar dates available with your reliable independent promoters.

Where do I start?

You might be thinking, how do I become a programmer? Where do you start? My advice would be to integrate with your local favourite venue and knock on their door or direct contact online about being interested in shadow experience at an event and/or offer your services for a period of time as an intern. There are many roles within a small or large venue organisation and often the case most venue programmers are found and recognised from having multiple experiences within the live sector but personality, trust and eye for detail are often your most recognisable attributes to an employer. But first and foremost is the drive, passion and love for music and making the venue a home for the day to all touring artists and touring personnel and making sure you have good relationship skills with all industry colleagues.

At some point in your music career, you may find that self-managing isn’t an effective strategy for you anymore. If you haven’t been approached by a manager or management company, you will have to be proactive to secure a manager that’s right for you. This means finding, researching and reaching out to a relevant manager or management company.

The Groundwork

Before you reach out, make sure you’re ready for a manager. For many bands and artists, self-management can get you very far and put you in a better position to secure a management deal at the right time. When you do reach out, make sure you are contacting managers that want to work with your style, genre and type of band. Check out this guide to make sure your efforts won’t fall on deaf ears.

Managers are business people that need work and income, so they generally don’t make themselves difficult to find. However, just as a manager will want to appeal to an artist with their experience and catalogue, so must an artist put their best foot forward to appeal to a manager. Think of your music, band or project as a product and think about how it could be considered a worthy investment for a manager.

Management Contacts

When you are ready to get a manager on board, check out these contacts.

Amour Music
Genre: Singer-songwriters, Contemporary

Authority MGMT

Genre: Singer-songwriters, Pop and Dance

Defenders Entertainment

Genre: R&B, Rap, Drill, Reggae and Dance


Genre: Jazz

Enzo Music Management

Genre: Rock, Metal

Incendia Music

Genre: Rock, Prog & Metal

Key Music Management

Genre: Alternative

Rock People Management

Genre: Rock, Blues

Young Guns

Genre: Classical, Jazz, Pop and Fusion


Management Contact Directories

Here are 5 directories for finding managers and management companies.


The Unsigned Guide

The Unsigned Guide is a UK music industry contacts directory. You can search for over 240 UK artist management companies and band managers. This features allows you to narrow your search by region and get contact information, websites, social media channel links and addresses.

Signing up to The Unsigned Guide costs £5.99 monthly, £10.99 quarterly or £32.99 annually. The great thing about The Unsigned Guide is that the directory doesn’t just cover management, but record labels, studio production, live venues, press, publishing, distribution, media, training, music law and more.


Music Week

Music week has an annual directory to help music industry professionals connect with up-to-date contacts. With its finger on the pulse of the evolving nature of the music industry, Music Week brings out an updated directory every year.

You can purchase the directory for £50, or subscribe to the Music Week magazine through one of the 3 options and get the directory free of charge.


The Music Management Forum (MMF)

The MMF are the largest representative body of music management in the world. Their members are managers and management companies. Through their website, artists seeking management can submit their details to the members of the MMF using this form.


Association of Independent Music (AIM)

AIM is a not-for-profit representing UK independent music. Find opportunities, jobs and contacts through the website. The AIM friends directory allows you to search for industry professionals such as live music management.


Musicians’ Union (MU)

The MU provides advice, news and connecting facilities to its members. The members directory allows you to search for other members in your area.

Currently you can access the members directory for £1 for the first 6 months when you sign up to an annual membership. The MU also offers special rates for students.

There’s also the option to seek out a specific manager based on your genre and the bands you know using that manager. If there’s a band similar to yours who has good management behind them, reach out to the specific company or person. Being passionate about being part of their roster, because you appreciate what they already do and want to be a part of it - if coupled with some real growth and movement from your band - could be the personal touch that makes the difference.


If you’re writing unique music or songs, at some point in your music career you may be presented with a publishing deal opportunity. The chances are that if you are currently an independent artist, you own all the rights to your music and are acting as your own publisher, but at some point you may be presented with additional options.

Here are the basics of what you need to know before signing on the dotted line…

What Is Publishing In Music?

There are certain rights that apply to different parts of music creation. The rights for the song are in publishing, whereas recorded music rights are separate. Recorded music rights can belong to labels if you have a record deal and some record labels may include publishing, but a publishing deal is different from a record deal and should be thought of separately. The reason for this is that sheet music pre-dates recorded music, so royalties can be recouped on either or both. Furthermore, you don’t have to be an artist to cash in on publishing rights. Songwriters and co-writers can benefit from a publishing deal without being the face of the project.

Types Of Publishing Deals

Administration Agreement

In an administration agreement, the creator retains ownership for the composition and the publisher takes a fee for providing registration for your songs with collection societies, while collecting royalties on your behalf. That fee is typically around the 10-15% mark. Royalties are collected from worldwide territories, making this a logistically good route for artists who release music in a multitude of places, while remaining in full control of their compositions.

Main Benefits:

If you are working with a label, an administration licensing agreement may be a publishing deal you come across. This type of deal allows the creator to provide the label with a license to market and distribute for a percentage of the sale.

Co-Publishing Agreement

This is the most common deal for the modern-day artist. Unlike the administration agreement, in a co-publishing agreement the creator splits ownership with the publishing company. Therefore the artist gives up an amount of control over their composition, but the return can be greater as the publishing company has a vested interest.

In this kind of deal, a publisher typically takes a cut of 25% of the total revenue from songs and will usually gives an advance to the writer. This monetary advance is like a loan and the publishing company will recoup this amount before paying out to the artist. This gives them more motivation to make money from your songs. A good publisher will aim to get your songs in adverts, films, games etc. and can even facilitate co-writes to boost your earnings.

Main Benefits:

Full Publishing Deal

Although not very common, a full publishing deal signs over the publishing share to a publishing company so that the publishers essentially own the songs. Advances can be larger, but after it is recouped the artist would only receive 50% of the total revenue of songs.

Work For Hire

Similarly to the full publishing deal, work for hire means giving up all ownership for a flat rate for the life of the copyright. This is particularly seen in film and advertising.

Self Publishing

If you are not signed up to a publishing deal, you are currently your own publisher. This makes you responsible for collecting your own royalties. Look into PRS for Music for easy royalty collection worldwide, without the need for a publishing deal.

The Right Timing

For many artists, publishing deals only come into play when they have a number of things in place, including a sizeable audience, radio play and management. This is because a publishing company will want to see that it will be worth their time and effort to collect on your behalf and earn through their percentage take. If your band is doing really well before getting a publisher on board, the writers have more leverage to negotiate a better split and terms of the deal.

How To Not Get Stung By A Deal

When it comes down to getting a good deal and not getting tied into something that is less than ideal, it comes down to a few simple things.

Do Your Research

What kind of deal are they offering and what does this mean for your split? Is the publishing company reputable? What other deals could be available to you?

Get Clear On The Offer

Are the terms and conditions reasonable? Do you understand the small print?

If you have any questions or queries, make sure you get independent advice before signing on the dotted line.

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Tel: +44 (0) 1273 726230
Email: [email protected]

WaterBear Education Ltd, Hanover House,
118 Queens Road, Brighton BN1 3XG, UK  Map

Why We're WaterBear...

- ‘Water bear’ is the common name for a Tardigrade.
- Tardigrades are micro creatures, found everywhere on earth.
- They are the most resilient creatures known.
- They can survive and adapt to their surroundings, even in outer space.
- Their resilience and ability to adapt and survive inspires us in everything we do. We love them.

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