Learn and Join In - Reuben Reynolds on Project SoundLounge

In autumn 2012 I saw an opportunity to work with staff from Town Hall & Symphony Hall as part of a team of under-21s putting on music events in the two buildings.

The project sounded too good to miss so I decided to sign myself up for the Sound Lounge 21 Project (now renamed as Project SoundLounge). I was part of a young group of volunteers, meeting regularly, sharing creative ideas and making plans and action towards a three day music festival – created for young by young people.

Being an active musician and gig-goer in and around Birmingham, I’m no stranger to music festivals and live music events but this project gave me a new insight and hands-on experience of what is required to actually plan, programme, promote and deliver a major live music event.

Last year’s team wasn’t just made up of budding musicians. It consisted of Journalism, Media, Sound Engineering students to name a few, each with a variety of different skills, from creative writing to video editing. We all brought something different to the table…different perspectives too, which I felt was a real advantage.

As the project progressed, one of my main tasks became programming. This involved selecting suitable performers for our festival, contacting them and eventually booking them to perform. This role gave me loads of challenges. Keeping on top of emails, budgeting, taking in suggestions and filling performance slots were amongst some of them, however, I found it to be enjoyable and rewarding with help from our teams’ co-programmer Nick Hart and Chris Proctor from the THSH programming team, who taught me about the strategies of programming including effective ways to communicate to bands and/or their managers.

Our 3 day music festival hosted 12 upcoming and local bands and acts in two of Birmingham’s most prestigious venues, and welcomed a variety of music lovers of different ages and backgrounds. The diversity of our audience was something I was particularly pleased with. During the days/nights of the festival I took on responsibility as for artist liaison, meeting the bands and band managers as they arrived to the venues, guiding them to the performance and dressing areas and keeping communication with the team in order to coordinate each phase of the event as it progressed each day. It was new to me and a lot of fun learning from Acquis Media’sChris Cuthbert who showed us the ropes.

Through my involvement with Project SoundLounge I have developed skills to work within areas of music industry that I hadn’t previously considered for myself. I strongly recommend that any 16-25 year old with an interest or a specific skill in music and the arts but want to branch out and broaden their potential should definitely apply for next year’s team.

I have recently been employed part-time as part of the THSH programming team, preparing to work with the successful applicants that will form the new Project SoundLounge team in 2014. Working here has been quite important for me – I never imagined that I would be in this position if I think back to this time last year. I’m not sure what will come out of it but that’s part of the appeal for me. I’m looking forward to meeting the new team and sharing in their creative ideas and whatever it is that they will produce. Hopefully the project will open as many doors for them as it has for me.

The application process for Project SoundLounge closes at 5pm on Friday 29 November 2013. Spread the word!

– Reuben Reynolds, Project SoundLounge Fellow