Charlie Hewitt

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Course Studied: BA (Hons) Music (Business)

Year of Graduation: 2018

Top Career Highlights:

Since graduating from our Music Business degree, Charlie Hewitt has built an exciting career in the world of festival management. To date, he has worked at major international events including Envision, Coachella and Lightning in a Bottle.

Below, Charlie discusses his experiences of studying in Leeds. During his time at LCoM he was able to develop as a double bass player through involvement with the conservatoire’s student ensembles whilst gaining in-depth knowledge about the wider industry.

When did you first encounter music/when did your interest in the music industry begin?

My interest in the music industry began when I was researching what do to at university. I was very good at Business GCSE and A-Level, and was a musician myself. So, I started researching whether I could combine them at university to learn more about each of those subject areas. My dad has always worked in music education so it has always been close to home.

Were you a musician by background/did you grow up studying music?

I am a musician myself and it’s always been a major part of my life. I studied double bass and piano at the Royal College of Music’s Junior Department for 9 years, alongside studying music at school where I also sang and taught myself bass guitar. I still play in orchestras occasionally - which are mostly paid gigs.

What does your current role at Broadwick Live involve?

I am currently an Artist Liaison Assistant for Broadwick Live. The role is extremely varied and no shift is ever the same. Generally, it involves providing a holistic experience for artists and their guest's pre, during and post-event. Pre-event is advancing everything with the agent/manager/artist. This can be tech specs, special requests, guest-list, media requests, food and drinks, accommodation and transport. During the event, it is important to look after the artists and guests - greeting them when they arrive at the venue, providing pre-advanced drinks and food, assisting with any queries that may arise, making sure they are at the stage at the correct time, coming off stage and then figuring out a plan for how they are leaving the site. The role is very customer service orientated but it can be very challenging at times.  

Could you comment about some of the other opportunities/roles you’ve undertaken to date?

Since leaving LCoM I have had many different opportunities and have taken the plunge into the freelance world.

First I started at an internship in Costa Rica at a 10,000-person festival in the jungle (Envision Festival). This provided challenges in many ways. Personally, it was dealing with 100% humidity and 35-degree heat, while working long days and sleeping in a tent. It also proved difficult for the festival itself as all infrastructure had to be brought in from elsewhere. I was an intern for the Enterprise department, so roles included finance, staffing, vendor management, point of sale management and HR.

Through connections gained at this festival I subsequently worked at Coachella as backstage support for the Do LaB Stage. This was an entry-level role but an important one to keep my foot in the door. This led to me working at Lightning in a Bottle as Point of Sale support for the same company. My manager and I were responsible for 65 point of sale devices - this meant we had to program them with all items being sold at the festival, train staff how to use them, manage sales during the festival, and complete a summary after the event.

I then did some more festival work in the USA which mainly involved Food Vendor Coordination at EDC Las Vegas, which was a very similar role to the internship I did at Envision Festival.

At the end of 2019 I was asked to go and work in Saudi Arabia for their first multi stage, 100,000 person music festival called MDL Beast. I was asked to work as artist liaison on one of the main stages. It was such a different culture and experience and one that is going to expand over the next few years with tourism on the up. The festival was founded by the Crown Prince and was a great success with local Saudis, and the rest of the festival industry. 

I then came back to the UK and Europe and worked in various roles such as stage management, lost and found manager, artist liaison, merch selling, festival runner and boat party manager.

What key skills do you need to work in artist liaison and festival management?

The key skill you need is adaptability. If you can ace that you are a very useful employee. Due to the fast-paced nature of the event industry, and the music industry, you need to be able to adapt to any situation immediately.

Being level-headed, with an ability to manage stress is vital as well. It is very easy to get stressed when you’re at the end of a 4-week stint on a festival site, with lack of sleep and working 20 hour days but being able to take a second and think is very important. Being a people person really helps too - it helps you network with people as well as add a more personal experience to the people you’re dealing with.

How did your experiences of studying at Leeds College of Music prepare you for a career in the wider industry?

My experience allowed me to understand the broader music industry so that I’m not just focused around events and festivals. It means I can empathise with agents, labels and PR people and understand their respective roles. It also means I can step into other roles and cover if I’m needed to.

I initially thought I wanted to go into artist management and marketing. However, LCoM allowed me to try out different aspects of the industry through doing assignments for different modules. After doing concerts and touring, then events management, I knew that’s what I wanted to do which is completely different to artist management and marketing.

What attracted you to the Music Business degree programme at LCoM?

It was the perfect course for me as it combined my two main interests – double bass playing and business studies. LCoM also allowed me to continue playing double bass with ensembles such as the Chamber Orchestra and other classical projects plus recording with friends.

The second I got off the train in Leeds for the Open Day I knew that’s where I wanted to be - the city just had such a different vibe compared to what I had experienced in London which really suited me.

Did you get involved in any opportunities outside of your studies whilst you were in Leeds?

Yes - I ran the LCoM SU Camerata Orchestra for a year. This involved organising two concerts as a bit of a fundraiser for the annual tour. I also volunteered at various events and festivals during my time studying. I started off doing ticket scanning, wrist-banding and crewing, which then led to me working my way up to paid and managerial roles. Those voluntary roles were vital to my success and a great way to initially get involved in festivals and events.

What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career in the music industry?

Getting yourself out there is the most important thing in the music industry. There is still a large aspect of ‘who you know’ but you still must back it up with ‘what you know’. Take every opportunity you get offered. Even if you don’t think it will benefit you directly, it’s important so you can network and meet people who then may benefit you in the future. Go to networking events (and if there aren’t any, make your own) and talk to people, know how to sell yourself but without being over the top with it.

What advice would you give someone who wants to study Music Business at LCoM?

Just say yes to everything that comes about and approach it with a positive attitude. That will always be noticed and you can always use that.

Utilise every connection possible to try and get your foot in the door, because once you’re in, you only progress.

Be adaptable - don’t shut down things that may not be related because that knowledge will always help you in the future. You will find your speciality within the industry whilst studying at LCoM. Utilise the opportunity of being a student as a fall back. Put yourself out there to gain experience in many different areas and see where it takes you. 

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