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.
As musicians or artists, we’ve all felt a feeling of longing to be able to fulfil our wish-list of equipment, productivity tools and furniture to create our ideal home studio at whatever the cost. More than ever we are looking through the window into other peoples homes, lifestyles and practices, and making impairing reference to our own lives.
There’s an intimidating amount of articles online detailing Home Studio Essentials, The Top 10 Hardware Synthesisers You Need Right Now!!, 14 Ways To Increase Productivity At Home, but I really believe there’s a more important elementary holistic process to go through before the practical advice in these becomes easy to separate, and potentially ignore. In this article I want to challenge the perception that somebody else is going to be able to tell you how to approach creativity at home and influence the mechanics of the space in which you do so. It’s likely you’ve already got everything you need.
Let’s look at the terminology. Almost all definitions of a studio suggest that it’s a separate room designed for work and creative practice. For many of us, I’m certain a dedicated environment is an opulent and unachievable goal, and through time various spaces in our homes have had to sustain multi-disciplinary activities; to this day my kitchen table functions as the production suite.
During your studies, you’re likely to come across or have encountered already the structure of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which details a five tier model of human needs, from physiological up to self-actualised. Some of the basic and physiological needs (including food, water, warmth, security, resources etc.) may seem self-evident to talk about, but I think it’s important to reinforce their place when it comes to supporting and sustaining creativity. They strengthen the importance of home in the term ‘home studio’, that it’s an adaptable space and that your creative endeavours are going to be built on solid foundations.
Firstly, I think it’s fundamental we become comfortable with both the present and future function of a home studio. Try and transport yourself to where you might be in a few years times based on the opportunities you see opening up for you, or where you’d hope to be. If you see the bulk of your work being realised in recording and rehearsal facilities, then you may want to consider the focus of your space to be a source of inspiration and a place to explore new ideas, of which you’ll then continue in external environments. Is there anything you can change about your current set up to support changes in the future? Unused equipment…unused space?
For me, the primary function of my creative space is to be able to very quickly explore ideas. Minimal waiting, loading, patching….whether that’s to satisfy capturing ideas with immediacy, or squeezing creative time around other demands of home life.
This is a very personal list you’re going to make, and not one I’m looking to influence and the items within it. The purpose of asking yourself this is just to distinguish between wants and needs. If I spend enough time looking at Instagram of a day, I guarantee I can convince myself I need a certain pair of monitors, or a valve pre-amp…but honestly, for me…the bulk of my work has never deviated outside of laptop, interface and speakers….and I really intend to keep it that way. It promotes flexibility and mobility in my set-up which is what I need in my adaptable creative space. Make sure you have a firm grasp on what is essential, and that it’s not dictated by others.
Further from the basic and physiological needs I referenced earlier, there’s some important factors to consider to help us sustain creativity at home.
Firstly, separating your environments is worth considering. If you’re able to make space to be creative and work outside of your bedroom, I hugely recommend it. In my experience, associating my bedroom with work and productivity only served to effect my quality of sleep and sleeping patterns, and when you start to go down this road this will start to effect the quality of your work, which further reinforces meeting those basic needs.
Secondly, take a moment to consider the visual stimulus in your creative environment, these being items from which you draw inspiration or motivation. How does your current environment make you feel? Is there anything you could change that would empower you to feel more creative? For me, it’s just natural light and sitting close to a window that aids that process. In the past I’ve been incredibly lucky to have a Brighton sea view in my home creative space while writing music, but at the moment the view from my space is north facing, and watching the incoming weather roll off the South Downs and over the city is a really exciting a new source of inspiration.
It’s a minefield out there. Stay focused on your personal journey through it. Try and make purchasing decisions objectively, not subjectively. Sitting with these thoughts an ideas, you’ll likely build a heightened appreciation for your current set-up, and explore the different applications it can offer.
As a final thought, I see many artists becoming increasingly more aware of the environmental impact of their work. If you’re looking to further the conversation in this article, maybe ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to meet the requirements of the environmentally conscious artist we should all be aiming to be. Some very simple first steps could be considering how to save energy, buying second hand equipment and furniture, and sharing equipment for recording purposes in
For more advice in setting up your own home studio get in touch.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
When you are ready to get a manager on board, check out these contacts.
Genre: Singer-songwriters, Contemporary
Genre: Singer-songwriters, Pop and Dance
Genre: R&B, Rap, Drill, Reggae and Dance
Genre: Rock, Metal
Genre: Rock, Prog & Metal
Genre: Rock, Blues
Genre: Classical, Jazz, Pop and Fusion
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Blisters, calluses, headstock injuries and electric shocks. They don't tell you about all of this when you walk into the music store to buy your first guitar, all wide-eyed and hopeful, do they? However, if you’ve decided that music is your calling, does it put you off?
Music is a labour of love. We put an immense number of hours into practicing, music production and promotion but you don’t always reap the rewards straight away. So, you must ensure you are in it for the long run both physically and mentally.
Despite the positive impact music can have on us – guitars, basses, drums and even some forms of singing can take their toll on the body. They are not natural pursuits. Music is an invention. Instruments are man-made. And in some respects, they are out to get you.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit OTT. However, there are many an instrumental horror story - drummers who’ve had operations due to RSI rendering their wrists useless for 6 months, the overeager guitarist who broke their singer's jawbone with their headstock. And at its extreme; check out what happened to Curtis Mayfield.
For your pleasure, we’ve whipped around the college to find some horror stories, and lessons that will save you the pain.
'The worst injury I've sustained from playing the guitar is a prolapsed disc in my neck. It comes from years of headbanging night after night whilst being on stage. It was so bad that I remember being on tour with a neck brace. Despite this, I was still going on stage and headbanging night after night.
I really noticed this at 27 when the wear and tear finally gave way. Basically, you have disks in your neck, and when it bulges an inner disk pushes through and can cause weakness on an outer disk. This can press on nerves which, in my case, affected my left arm.
The damage got quite severe and recalibrated my pain threshold. My arm was so weak that I couldn't open a door. For ten years I couldn't really lift my arm over 90 degrees and suffered from pins and needles and numb fingers. Weirdly this did not affect my playing. I was, however, in chronic pain.
From this, I learnt that everything in life has a proper technique. Even headbanging like Angus Young has an appropriate method.
It was too late for me to go back and change years being on the road. However, I wanted to minimise any further problems. I enlisted the help of a professional that gave me tips for posture, which definitely helped my working life going forward.
If you are in a rock or metal band, this injury could be waiting for you, and my advice is to study 'headbanging technique'. Angus Young got away with it. However, there are many casualties on the road. Check the fluidity of your motion and try to understand your physiology. If, like me, you have long back and rigid skeleton – you are more prone to injuries.
Also, consider your instrument. For me, telecasters and acoustics really set it off however a Strat with that contour is no problem. Leo Fender, as ever, was way ahead of his time.
You must be mindful with what you eat on tour. A lousy food decision completely devastated me during a gig.
While on the road we often ate venue provided food, this is running the gauntlet. After one show, the food provided was questionable to say the least. Despite my gut feeling, I went ahead and ate it.
This turned out to be an awful decision, and the next day was spent throwing up. This negative effect of this was pressurised as the band was playing a sold-out 500 cap show that evening. I thought I could manage it, and so we played the gig.
Throughout the set, I fought waves of nausea, and I almost made it. I was about to rush away from the drumkit and say hello to the porcelain when the crowd & singer called for an encore. It was a terrible situation.
We started to play the encore, and I couldn't maintain. I vomited over my drumkit three times during the song. It was not pretty, especially as every time I hit the kit; I had an unfortunate reminder of last night's mistake. Despite how disgusting this was - it could have been much worse. I could have ended up in hospital.
In addition to being careful with what you eat, you need to be mindful of how you lift gear. I've seen too many injuries where musicians have misjudged the weight of their equipment. This always leads to pulled muscles and can even lead to permanent damage.
You need to protect the gig. It's easy to forget that while on the road, you are a performing asset. If you go down for any reason, it can mean pulling tours, losing money and at the worse lead to hospital trips. Tour casualties happen, and at their extremes can be fatal.
Be mindful of this, protect yourself, your band and your career.
It is crucial to maintain good vocal health, full stop. As a vocalist, our instrument is internal. Consequently, the way we treat our body has a direct impact on how we perform, sound and develop.
You need a proper breathing technique and daily practice. You need to be aware of any tensions in your body. Having a familiar knowledge of your unique instrument are just some of the ways that maintain a healthy and robust voice.
Vocalists are at risk of multiple injuries if good vocal practice isn’t followed. I’m sure you have heard of nodules, the damage that can affect the strongest of singers if vocal health is not maintained. Other potential risks are polyps, ulcers and one-sided paralysis. A strong vocal warm-up, daily practice and the continuing growth of knowledge of your instrument are the best ways to steer clear of any harm coming to your voice.
Having a mentor and vocal coach who you can check in with from time to time is also a great way to develop your skill but also have someone to feedback on how you are working and help to improve your techniques further.
Instruments are unwieldy beasts, whether it's a bass or an internal instrument like your voice. When we engage in the repeated activity of practice, it may not feel like it, but we are asking a lot from our body. Over time this repeated activity can lead to RSI, tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
If you want a career in music and as an instrumentalist, ‘economy of movement’ is a must. Ask yourself ‘what is the most natural way of achieving an unnatural thing?’
Luckily for you, many musicians have had the same struggle. Dr.Randall Kertz is a physician who specialises in injury prevention for musicians and bass players. You’ll also find a wealth of information on the Alexander Technique – check out this link for a comprehensive guide. This method will help you build good habits. Which in turn will help ensure a lifelong career in music.
- ‘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.