Niall O'Connor

Currently working as a Corporate New Business Advisor at PPL PRS, Niall O’Connor graduated from our Music Business degree in 2018. During his time in Leeds, Niall set up a number of ventures including Rhino Sessions and Goobie which proved to be invaluable experience when applying for roles in the music industry.

We caught up with Niall to learn about his journey since leaving Leeds College of Music.

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

Although I have loved listening to music since I was young, I didn’t pick up a guitar until around the age of 18. Even when doing so I had no idea what I wanted to do with regards to a career.

My uncle has decades of experience as a CEO at numerous companies across the UK and Ireland and highlighted to me, after quizzing him on career paths, that any degree with ‘business’ in the title is always useful to have on a CV.

When considering degree programmes to apply for I simply combined what I loved doing with the advice given from my uncle. Consequently, that is when an interest in the music industry and more specifically the LCoM Music Business degree programme began.

What does your role as Corporate New Business Advisor at PPL PRS involve? What key skills do you need for this role?

My role has recently changed from New Business Advisor to Corporate New Business Advisor to highlight that the clients we should be dealing with should be generating PPL PRS high value revenue; including multi-site licence agreements and high volumes of music usage across their annual licence period.

We have to liaise and build relationships with key decision makers in some of the biggest and growing UK companies at present in order to ensure they are fully compliant with the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988). Essentially PPL PRS and my role specifically means that I am at forefront for collecting music royalties which are then distributed through our parents PPL and PRS for Music.

Someone seeking this role would require knowledge of opportunity sourcing and market sector analysis, planning and organisational skills, attention to detail, an ability to collaborate, a keen work ethic, excellent communication skills and the capacity to problem solve and analyse. Even though the role does not necessarily require a Music Business degree, the skill set and experience acquired through my degree and managing my own projects ensured that I was well equipped for this role and had the confidence to educate myself within areas I was not so well informed on.

Update 11 March:

The company have recently promoted me to National Account Executive. Instead of generating brand new licence accounts and selling the concept of music in the workplace to possible clientele, my new role means that I will be supporting and nurturing PPLPRS’s existing national accounts; aiding the Key Accounts department to grow and nurture their accounts, whilst developing customer relations.

Could you tell us a little bit more some of your previous ventures such as Rhino Sessions and Goobie?

Online sessions channel Rhino Sessions started in 2016 and was my first venture into project management. We promoted the artists filmed through our showcase event nights to give them a physical and online platform to promote their work. The experience provided me with opportunity to learn more about the attributes I did and didn’t possess prior to finishing my degree.

Becoming a project manager is a great way to start building on your practical business experience as you can get involved in all aspects of business such as event management and promotion, social media management, press and marketing strategies, controlling the finances and pitching the brand to existing or future stakeholders.

Goobie is a platform designed for performers, venues, promoters and booking agents to network and organise events. The Goobie platform is back under development and even though the initial launch did not go as we hoped, I definitely took a lot from the project with regards to general business knowledge and experience; contingency and business planning, market and competitor analyse, forecasting and pitching. After having a year out to find our feet in our full-time jobs, both myself and my business partner are discussing and planning the relaunch, with hopes to have the product fully complete by late 2020/early 2021.

What were the most important lessons learnt from studying Music Business at LCoM?

The degree will develop your knowledge and understanding of all aspects to the music industry. However, in order to build on your experience and grow your CV, you need to start applying that understanding to opportunities outside of your studies as soon as possible. The one regret is that I didn’t start doing this until my second year of studies and missed out on a whole year which could have been invested in growing Goobie, Rhino Sessions or indeed any other business opportunities. If you don’t start early you will find out that if you are to get rejected from future job opportunities in the music industry it will most likely be because the successful candidate started writing music blogs earlier on or started managing artists a year before you.

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

The curriculum demonstrated that the programme would consist of insight into all aspects of the music industry - more so then other music business degrees around at that time. The other facets to the course that enticed me were the regular industry professional masterclasses and lecturers involved with the course at the time.

How does LCoM help you to establish your own projects?

Prior to starting at LCoM I believed that although practical and theoretical knowledge of music was not mandatory for my course, I would feel left out when it came to socialising with students across other pathways as they would all be talented Grade 8 musicians wanting to collaborate musically. However, I forgot that even though there would be a vast wealth of talented individuals, those same individuals may also require that business mind set and entrepreneurialism to help guide them into a career and to monetise their work.

It transpired that my initial opinions on student life at LCoM were wrong because everyone across the conservatoire - from the students to the staff, are all so friendly and approachable that not only are you guaranteed to make contacts but also form friendships across all departments. In addition, despite having had very little experience within the practical side of music and no music theory knowledge whatsoever, this lack of experience did not affect my studies on the Music Business degree programme.

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

The conservatoire is full of people willing to COLLABORATE. So get stuck into everything that LCoM, your degree course and the city has to offer. Employers will not only invest in skill sets but also in your personality and your experience prior to your application. If you can demonstrate years of experience which has been gained on your own accord, then you have already demonstrated your drive and keen work ethic to making it within the industry before you have even met an employer.

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Learn more about PPL PRS here

Find out about studying Music Business at Leeds College of Music

If you’re a graduate of Leeds College of Music, join our alumni networking portal

Or discover the Rhino Sessions here

One of the best things about studying at a conservatoire is that our tutors are artists and industry professionals… https://t.co/bFTjRUo613
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