Young people dreaming of making it in the music business were given a rare look behind the scenes by two stalwarts of sound engineering.
North Shields-based Nitelites, which provides sound, lighting and staging equipment, invited a handful of Middlesbrough College students to its Tyne Tunnel Trading Estate base.
Nitelites manager Andy Murray and freelance tour manager Ross Lewis gave students a taste of life in the music industry, with equipment found gracing the stage of Leeds Festival or the BBC Proms.
Ross, who was global tour manager for pop star James Bay, gave his top tips on forging a career in music.
Ross said: “Our aim was to get the students thinking about what they need to do if they’re serious about a career in the music industry – and that means building a strong network, knowing your craft and saying yes to opportunities.
“The most important takeaway is that with the right attitude and skills anyone can do it.
“I’m an ordinary guy from Ashington and in the past five years working with James Bay I’ve travelled the world having some fantastic experiences.
“It’s important not to judge people by appearances. I’ve worked with all sorts of people and you can get so much more out of your career by keeping an open mind.”
Students on Middlesbrough College’s BSc (Hons) Audiovisual Technology degree got the chance to build a typical stage set-up using real equipment that would normally be on the road.
They applied classroom theory to real life and picked up wisdom about getting breaks in the industry.
Ross added: “It was great to show the students that this side of the international music industry is happening only 30 or so miles up the road from home.
“There is absolutely no reason why these students shouldn’t be the ones setting up the gear for international stars.
“The live music industry is as healthy as it’s ever been and even with the significant challenges that Brexit raises, there are plenty of opportunities for people with the skills and right approach.”
Jack Laidlaw, higher education lecturer, said: “This type of experience is invaluable to our students and the chance to get pointers from highly respected professionals like Andy and Ross is rare.”
He added: “When we were writing the programme it was extremely important to us that their expertise informed the course content, and we’re delighted that they continue to be involved with the degree.
“There are great opportunities in the music industry, but it requires commitment and resourcefulness to build a career.
“Our students are not only given the practical skills and knowledge they need to succeed, but also the crucial industry insights from people who have been there before them.”