“Listen Learn: Music” was an event hosted by the Teenager Cancer Trust & KID Talks on the 18th of November 2015, at the Gibson Showrooms just behind Oxford Street in London.

The event was hosted by Eylar Fox (singer-songwriter) with informative talks/Q&As and hands on workshops from Nicola Roberts (singer-songwriter), Alan McGee (music executive), Charli Scott (music manager), Steve Tilley (Kilimanjaro promoter) and Emma Van Duyts (music PR).

So here is a summary of my experience… 

I first heard about this event through Nicola Roberts tweeting about it, and to anyone that knows me, will know I have loved Girls Aloud for years. Equally, I am a keen media enthusiast, with an ambition to work somewhere within the media industry, though I am still trying to find what sector appeals to my strengths most. Therefore I was initially eager to go to see what options were available in the music industry and if anything played to my strengths, but ended up disregarding it as I failed to find anyone to accompany me and due to fear of facing it alone.

Then one of my friends (who was actually someone I had connected with due to being a Girls Aloud fan!) contacted me a few days before the event telling me she was going and that I should join her, so after some thinking, it didn’t take long until I convinced myself to tag along.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect, as information on the event was rather brief, however I was excited to learn more about the music industry and what some of the job roles entail.

I found the talks/Q&A’s to be very open and honest, they didn’t shy away from the truth and particularly try to ‘sell’ careers in the music industry, they just gave an honest insight into the type of jobs they undertake, explained why they love it and what type of qualities you would need for their jobs. Which was very helpful in understanding if it would be right for me.

Each speaker also spoke about the path they took from turning a passion into a career. I found it was reassuring to learn that many of them started personally, then locally and gradually worked their way up, as this is something I have started and been trying to get to grips and gain experience with.

Overall I found the talks/Q&A useful, and I managed to take away a few notes and quotes to refer to and keep me inspired. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I took away was that you have to be 100% passionate, because if you’re not passionate, it won’t be for you, due to the fact it involves a lot of hardwork, however it can be hugely rewarding and fun if you enjoy it.

There was a short break, followed by a workshop session, which was determined by a number upon arrival (which in principle, was a fair way to make it happen but was a little bit annoying as it meant people who had gone together may have been/were split-up and you may not have got into a session that would have appealed to/benefited you most), but fortunately I ended up in the songwriting session with Eylar Fox and Nicola Roberts, which I was very happy about as I was keen to learn more about something I was clueless about, especially through the eyes of someone who inspires me so much!

Similar to the talks, I again found it very interesting and engaging. It gave people a chance to further share their stories, ask questions and have a hands-on session in learning the process of songwriting, which is actually very difficult. I had a huge admiration for those that got involved because I have no talent for that area and a real lack of confidence but I really enjoyed witnessing the process and have a newfound appreciation for songwriters, as it is easy to forget/disregard how hard they work.

Finally, I got to end the event by meeting the wonderful Nicola herself, which as a fan was lovely, but I also admired how long she spent speaking to everyone; listening to their stories or whatever it was they wanted to say, giving her advice and answering their questions. I am especially happy and grateful that I got to tell her about what I want to do, and that she suggested I be a reviewer and told me to “just keep at it”. Which I will treasure, and follow. (And bonus points for her suggesting me something I’ve also considered several times, as you can probably tell from this blog!)

Overall, although there is room for improvement, it was an insightful and interesting event that opened my eyes and gave me honest views to what working in the music industry is like. I appreciate Teenage Cancer Trust & KID talks for creating the event in order to help and inspire young people, and I can definitely see room for more events similar to this in the future, as events like this are important to keep young people motivated.