Southampton Solent University’s SMILEfest 2011 was a resounding success. With over 40 bands performing in nine city venues, and more than 100 students taking part in course related challenges and assessments, music students gave industry professionals a run for their money.
Solent Music Industries Live Event (SMILE) is a five day festival of live gigs, industry guest talks and challenging projects, designed to raise the stakes for students who want to carve out a career in the music industry. BA (Hons) Popular Music Journalism students on the third year of their degree produced the official programme, website and documentaries, while students from first and second year’s were commissioned to write interviews and reviews for the programme and website. Their hard work counted towards their university assessments, and gave them invaluable experience and contacts with the music industries.
Throughout the week, students came face to face with key figures from the international music industries, during an eclectic mix of tasks and trials which saw them performing, producing and promoting.
Music festival ace Mark Cann – right-hand man to Glastonbury guru Michael Eavis – talked through the organisation of a top event; rock photographer Pat Pope gave an insight into the stories behind his shots, including Radiohead and Bowie; and special acts – including Gallows and Reverend and the Makers – also dropped in to share their experiences.
A team of Popular Music Journalism students produced a magazine in one day. Under the direction of Carl Loben, deputy editor of DJ magazine, and Lestyn George, former news editor of NME and features editor of GQ, the 20 page magazine, Audio Addict – SMILEfest Special Edition, surpassed all expectations. View the magazine here.
Carl said: “The students were fantastic, they worked really well as a team and displayed a level of professionalism and talent that would put some people actually working in the industry to shame. I can’t wait to work wit Solent’s music journalism students again.”
Music promotion, media and performance students staged gigs at music venues across the city including Hamptons, The Joiners and Pop. Students and the public were given the chance to catch some of the region’s most exciting live acts, including Morning Parade, The Laurel Collective and Identity Thief.
Production and Performance students took over Solent’s music studios to record an album in a day, which received maximum exposure through an online campaign put together by music promotions students.
The festival culminated at local venue, the Soul Cellar with performances by some of the University’s hottest acts, including The Widowmaker and Fly Frankie Fly.
Course leader for Music Journalism and SMILE founder, Dr Martin James, said: “We’ve had a fantastic week. The gigs went down really well and the album and magazine in a day challenges were brilliant. Many thought it couldn’t be done, but the students did an incredible job in just nine hours!
“Through interaction and collaboration with the industries our students were able to experience the processes involved in being a part of a professional team and what the industry will expect from them once they graduate.”
Each year, SMILEfest expands and develops, with students involved from the planning stages right through to the management of the week itself. Next year’s event will see yet more music, celebrities and industry guests entertaining and educating students at Southampton Solent University: now that’s something to ‘smile’ about.
Quotes from SMILEfest guests
“I am pleased to say that I met some cool people and enjoyed listening to the work of some really promising producers and musicians. Discussing and critiquing people’s work is not easy whilst on a panel, and I hope those discussed where helped in some small way. The opportunity to get some input from the panel was not lost, as I came away with pockets full of CDR’s! I look forward to hosting a Master Class one day!”
Olivier Behzadi – Director UBR, Former head of A&R, Sony Records
“While at Solent I was lucky enough to meet some of the students. Their enthusiasm towards their courses along with the great sense of community spirit among the under-graduates and lecturers left me confident that the future of the music industry will be handed down to more than capable hands.”
Laurent Barnard, Gallow