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Monday 30 March 2015

SMILE! Check out the discussion from this year's SMILEfest

Graduates shine at SMILEfest 2015

Southampton Solent University graduates stole the show from the strongest ever line-up at this year’s SMILEfest music industries conference.

In their roles as music and media industry professionals, three Solent graduates (Mel Lewis, Lou Cooper and Ricky Simmonds) took part in discussion panels with a stellar list of big name guests – adding a youthful insight that struck a chord with students hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Solent graduate and SMILEfest guest speaker, Ricky Simmonds

SMILEfest 2015 co-executive producer Prof Martin James said:

“SMILEfest just improves every year. We’re now in the great position of having our own graduates in influential positions within the music and media industries.

“When they’re put in the mix with the big names that the conference has become known for it can only be inspirational for any student hoping to get a foothold in these highly competitive industries.”

Graduates at the music industries conference

Mel Lewis graduated in 2010 from MA media and public relations, and now works as a live events assistant across Radio 1, 1Xtra, Radio 2, 6Muisc and BBC Introducing.

As a part of her MA, she filmed interviews with guests at the 2010 conference.

This year, Mel returned to Solent to take part in a thought-provoking panel at the conference called Blurred Lines: Music and Misogyny, with co-panellists included NME features editor Laura Snapes, Mute Records’ head of press Zoe Miller and tour manager Tre Stead. The panel was chaired by Independent columnist Fiona Sturges.

“It felt completely full circle for me, guest speaking at this year’s SMILEfest, having interviewed the guests myself when I was a student at the University,” says Mel.

Solent graduate and SMILEfest guest speaker, Mel Lewis

“Events like this are invaluable to students, giving them opportunities to hear from and introduce themselves to potential employers and colleagues,” she continued.

“Networking is so important in this industry and SMILEfest provides Solent students with the chance to network with some really interesting and influential people.”

Popular Music Journalism graduate Lou Cooper worked as a student helper on the very first SMILEfest in 2009. This year she was back in her professional capacity as head of albums at Toolroom Records and took part in the Demo Surgery.

Her fellow panellists included: Libertines drummer Gary Powell; his partner in the new 25 Hour Convenience Store record label, Wayne Clarke; and Monkeytown recording artist and producer Alex Banks.

Together the panel offered guidance, advice and high praise to many of Solent’s bands, artists and producers.

Ricky Simmonds, a graduate of urban and electronic music, label manager of Love & Other records, and Ministry of Sound DJ, took part in a lively panel discussing the future of club culture.

Called Beyond EDM, the panel included a breathtaking array of guests including: Radio 1 DJ Danny Howard; legendary drum & bass DJ Fabio; and Mark Lawrence CEO of The Association for Electronic Music.

Other industry big names on the panels

High profile guests taking part included president of music at Virgin EMI Mike Smith, artist manager Tony Crean (Goldfrapp, Chemical Brothers and Portishead) and International Manager at Caroline Records Anya Strafford. The panel was chaired by former Creation Records’ Head of Press Johnny Hopkins.

Solent graduate and SMILEfest guest speaker, Lou Cooper

The headlining guest talk came from Viv Albertine, an award winning author and guitarist with pioneering punk band The Slits. She was interviewed on stage by internationally renowned music journalist John Robb.

Graduates give career advice

The SMILEfest 2014 Music Industries Conference followed hot on the heal of the inaugural SMILEfest Employability Conference, which was delivered in association with the BPI. It offered a range of support sessions on CV writing, fund raising and networking for students.

A panel of graduates from a range of areas within the music and media industries came in to talk to students and offer their advice.

The panel of high flyers included popular music journalism graduates Mitch Stevens (press officer at Listen Up PR) and Racheal Anderson (development co-ordinator at StoryStream), music promotion graduate Craig Thomas (press officer at Murray Chalmers PR), former music performance student Oliver Gamston (client relations, De Wolfe Music) and music production grad Stuart Davie (E-commerce manager at the Beggars Group).

The key note speaker for the day was Kerrang! editor James McMahon, who talked about his time as a student when he released an album with his band, promoted events at Northumbria University, produced his own fanzine and wrote for NME.

SMILEfest – the backstory

Now in its seventh year SMILEfest is a student conceived, managed and promoted three-week celebration of music in the creative industries.

Primarily organized by students studying popular music journalism and music promotion, the event also includes contributions from students throughout the University with a huge number being assessed on their input.

The event includes gigs, club nights, conferences, master classes, professional ‘in-a-day’ challenges, marketing materials, album compilations, events and website production and for the first time this year a fanzine created by students studying Illustration.