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From hobbyist to headliner in ten steps, CMU maps music careers and local music industries with new Pathways Into Music guides

By | Published on Thursday 13 February 2020

Pathways Into Music

CMU today publishes the first in a series of new guides based on its Pathways Into Music research project, which is mapping music careers and exploring the respective role of music education and the music industry in supporting future music talent. The guide is being launched at the Output conference in Belfast, alongside the findings of a major piece of work mapping the local music industry in Northern Ireland.

The Pathways Into Music project was launched at The Great Escape in 2018, with the aim of more closely aligning music educators and the music industry. A major multi-year initiative, it seeks to help those pursuing a career in music – and everyone educating and supporting those people – to better understand the journey music-makers will likely take, and what skills, knowledge and resources they will need along the way.

That work is being documented through a series of free guides which will then come together to form the Pathways Into Music book. CMU is also running a series of webinars alongside the guides, and the Music Education Conference on day one of The Great Escape in May will summarise all the key findings, fleshing them out with case studies, expert insights and plenty of lively debate.

The first guide reviews the frontline artist career, breaking that pathway down into ten steps, from hobbyist to headliner. The traditional music industry gets involved in a focused way at around about step four, making steps one to three the DIY Phase. A key question being tackled by the wider project is: what do artists need to do to progress through the DIY Phase, and what support is available to help with that process?

The guide identifies DIY services, industry organisations, mentors, peers and educators as all playing a key role during those first three steps. One way to ensure that more DIY Phase artists have access to that support is to enable them to identify and connect with a local music industry. To help with that process, Pathways Into Music has also developed a taxonomy and methodology for mapping local music communities.

That taxonomy and methodology has been developed and tested in Northern Ireland via a major mapping project enabled by support from Help Musicians NI. The results of that work – which will also see the launch of a new Northern Irish music industry directory – will be unveiled during a session at Output later today. The taxonomy will then be shared and explained in more detail in the second of the Pathways Into Music guides.

Pathways Into Music is being led by CMU’s Chris Cooke and artist manager and music consultant Phil Nelson, who will co-host today’s Output sessions, as well as the upcoming series of webinars and the Music Education Conference in May.

Cooke says: “This project grew out of the observation that, here in the England, the government regularly acknowledges the economic and social impact of the music industry, yet at the same time has spent a decade down-grading music education in schools”.

“We wondered if part of the disconnect in government came about because of the disconnect between music education and the music industry”, he adds. “Which is why we created the Music Education Conference at The Great Escape, and began on the eye-opening adventure that has become the Pathways Into Music project”.

Nelson adds: “I had already embarked on mapping the music industry in Northern Ireland before we started work on Pathways Into Music, inspired by the global music cities movement, and believing that truly supporting local music communities has to begin with understanding what that local community looks like”.

“But this mapping work quickly began inputting into and informing the wider Pathways project”, he goes on, “allowing us to see the gaps in education and infrastructure that hinder DIY Phase artists. We hope that by sharing our research – and by working with partners on solutions to the challenges we identify – we can level the playing field and help more artists progress on their pathway into music”.

You can download the first Pathways Into Music guide for free here.

There is more information about the accompanying webinars – which take place in March and June – here. And you can find out how all this work will come to life at the Music Education Conference in Brighton on Wednesday 13 May here.