Artist Post: Joe Cook

In Autumn 2013 I came across an opportunity to work alongside Town Hall and Symphony Hall staff as part of a team of young creatives putting together a three day festival in the heart of the city.

I decided to apply and after a group interview/workshop I became part of the 2013/14 Project SoundLounge team; a group of young volunteers meeting on a weekly basis creating ideas and putting them into action to make a festival by young people for young people.

Being a performing musician and lover of live music myself the festival and live music environment was something I had become used to. Having mainly played and performed in the backs of pubs and in the more underground DIY music scene in Digbeth this experience gave me a whole new insight into my city’s culture. It also opened my eyes to the hard work put in by those that plan the events.

The team was made up of musicians, producers, students, event managers, bloggers and promoters who all had a passion for music, and who all bought different skills and contacts to the table. These different backgrounds and areas of interest really helped with the diversity of festival.

As we got further into the project I took on the responsibility of programming. This involved finding suitable performers for the festival, contacting them and coming to an agreement over booking.

I learnt how this was more than simply picking artists to perform. I learnt how to manage emails, manage a budget and speak professionally to bands/agents. Programming also opened my ears up to many exciting local artists and allowed me to submerge myself within the local scene.

Our event ran for three days over a number of different venues – Town Hall, Brindleyplace and The REP. The audience consisted of a diverse range of ages and backgrounds and bought the city’s music lovers together.

During the festival itself, I took on the role of artist liaison: meeting the bands and bands managers as they arrived, guiding them to the performance and dressing areas and keeping in communication with the team to enable the event ran smoothly each day. I also hosted the stage on one of the days.

Through my experience with Project SoundLounge I have developed skills in areas of the industry that otherwise I would never have had access to, and most importantly I enjoyed the whole process. I would highly recommend the project to any 16-25 year olds with a passion for music and an interest in broadening their skill set.

Read Beth French’s Project SoundLounge 2013/14 blog post

I have recently been employed part-time as part of the THSH Programming team and will be working with the successful SoundLounge applicants that will form this years group. I am really excited to meet the new team and see what awesome ideas they will produce. Fingers crossed doors will open up for them as they did for me.

– Joe Cook, Project SoundLounge Fellow 2014/15

Recruitment for the Project SoundLounge team 2014/15 is now open.

Images: Micky F Photography, Birmingham Mail