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Meet Sybil and Chloe, aiming to shed new light on music industries with CAN YOU CIC IT?


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When they’re not encouraging local communities to go and embrace independent venues and all that they provide, Chloe Ward and Sybil Bell are actively working with young people to give them the chance to work within the music industries.

They’ve recognised that the two go hand in hand and that venues sit in the heart of communities, acting as a safe place for young people to create the memories that make them who they are. A bond that doesn’t simply last during the celebratory Independent Venue Week, that the pair have hosted for the past four years.

CAN YOU CIC IT? is Chloe and Sybils' latest venture, a body built “to offer opportunities in training, education and development to young people who don’t have traditional routes into the music industry or aren’t aware of the different roles that are available.”

You hear the words ‘music business’, and picture Simon Cowell with glowing teeth, or a Z-List celebrity in a big chair saying ‘I think your performance needed more…colour’. You picture Starbucks cups and swanky offices, guest list booths at the O2, and conference calls with Madonna. The reality is a lot different, and amidst the mediated glam are roles beyond your wildest dreams. There are people hired to match lighting to sound, who design the sets, who plan out tours and their routes, who curate playlists and build stages.

These aren’t the jobs that your careers advisor suggests in those awkward meetings, where you usually end up on a week-long placement shadowing a geography teacher.

The trick, Chloe says, “is to say yes, where possible, to every opportunity. It might be that you don’t necessarily want to work in that particular sector of the industry but no sector works in isolation so you never know what connections you will make and it’s always beneficial to have an overview of how the different sectors work together and their influence on each other.”

Also, the saying is true: opportunity is usually on your doorstep. Your local venue, however small it may be, however acoustic guitars it may host, and whatever craft beer may be on offer. These “are the musical hubs in local community, so are a great place to meet like-minded people and get a taste of the different jobs available in the industry, from the technical roles like sound and lighting engineer, to management, PR and promotion.”

They’re called the industries for a reason. There is not a single music industry, it’s made up of many different connected industries. Live. Recorded. Promotion. Digital. Royalties. Publishing. Every time you hear a song, a deal has been struck. No matter where.

Chloe believes that “there are two main issues with getting a job in music that immediately spring to mind. The first is the issue of actually getting an opportunity to get into the industry - most people don’t know someone already working in these roles so it can be difficult to get that ‘in’.” This causes the majority of people to have to balance the consequences of taking unpaid or low-paid roles and internships as a promised route in. The problem however, is that these roles are “mostly based in larger cities and it is very expensive to live in them even if you earn a decent wage. Trying to live in the capital, for example, on a very low paid or unpaid job is almost impossible.”

It's unfair and it’s tedious and it’s enough to keep you awake at night whispering ‘I just wanna work in music!’ but the likes of CAN YOU CIC IT? are here to guide. A number of organisations offer mentoring and training to be taken advantage of, and “by getting involved with these organisations and gaining a lot of experience, young people are much more likely to distinguish themselves from the competition for higher paying jobs.”

These incentives offer networking opportunities with professionals and with other young people for collaborators. “Almost all of my jobs in the industry have come through friends of friends and recommendations,” says Chloe, “so I know first-hand the importance of having those connections and that network of people around you.” 

CAN YOU CIC IT works with Help Musicians, the leading charity in the UK for musicians, providing support for musicians “at all stages of their career, from grants for musicians starting out in the industry to later in life with pension support.” As well as He For She, who are “all about gender equality and standing together to create a force for change for this.”

Together they hosted the first CAN YOU CIC IT event last month, during the He For She Arts Week, where different events highlighted the need for and importance of gender equality within the music industries.

Admitting that sexism and misogyny is an issue in the industries - across all industries, really - Chloe says “for the small percentage of males that are sexist, there are many more that are completely supportive of women in the industry and champion them.”

Explaining, “When we were speaking to different women about being part of a panel discussion for Yes She Can, it was very apparent that there is a large portion of women that are experts in various aspects of the industry and it was great to bring them together and highlight them as role models for the young women that attended.”

The event set out to highlight that there are still areas, “particularly in the more technical roles like producer, engineer and FOH engineer where women are vastly underrepresented but we are seeing more women coming into these roles.”

With a belief that raising awareness of these roles on offer would make a difference in the amount of women working in music, and the choice and options available.

Quite simply, “there needs to be more of a spotlight shone on the many women in the industry who are at the top of their game and are fantastic role models for young women.”

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