Is university the ideal catalyst for new music? – Ellen Tout investigates.
Pick up a newspaper and it’s pretty likely you’ll find articles about student debt, youth culture and unemployed graduates. But a closer look reveals countless students shaping the future of British music.
Many of the world’s most successful musicians began their careers while at university. Look at Snow Patrol, Mumford and Sons, MGMT or Ellie Goulding. One day not so long ago they were all students.
The UK boasts a total of 115 universities. From Oxbridge to polytechnics, music is one common thread. Your time as a student is rich in opportunities and could provide the springboard to reach musical victory.
Think about it, student life is bursting with socials, networking opportunities and societies. In Southampton, RockSoc operates across the universities. Venues like The Hobbit, The Joiners and 90 Degrees are eager to host student gigs. But it could even be something as simple as word of mouth or support from peers that gives a student the boost to becoming the next big thing.
Beach Break Live is a festival designed uniquely for students. Leilah Cooling, marketing and event assistant explained why students play such a vital role in modern music.
She said: “Students are very sociable, so there are a vast majority of different club nights and gigs that are put on for students and that also have student artists performing, giving them a chance to build a fan base.”
It seems that across the UK and in Southampton a bustling network of musicians has developed. I wanted to know what it’s like on the inside for a student performer, so I met up with Rachel Lawrence. At present Rachel is studying English Literature at Southampton University. But there’s much more to Rachel than just books, she has been singing since childhood and performs regularly across Southampton.
We met up before her gig at Bedford Place’s 90 Degrees. As soon as you meet Rachel it’s not difficult to see why she was drawn to the lime-light of the stage. Her bubbly and open persona fills the room and we soon got to talking about life as a student musician, and more.
How has studying in Southampton changed or helped you as a musician?
RL: “I think uni has opened doors because people are more open-minded, you meet people with a wide range of tastes in music. You also meet people that are ready to devote their life to making money from music and are enthusiastic about finding new performers and musicians to work with. You sort of become part of a network of people that all know each other because they gig and all encourage you to participate, which is amazing. It’s given me the chance to meet and work with some incredible musicians.”
What are the advantages or disadvantages of being a singer and a student?
RL: “It takes up time! I had a gig last week which was really last minute and I spent so much time practising. I was trying to learn 17 songs alongside reading two plays a novel and I only had five days to do it.
“Uni is about meeting people, networking, having new experiences, finding what makes you excited about life and doing things that are good for the soul. The degree is part of the reason I am here, but it isn’t the only reason.”
Undoubtedly students are the minds of the future. But it seems that they could be much more than Lawyers or Mathematicians. Student bands and musicians are paving the future of music and Southampton is no exception.