Kevin Grist, Creative Producer (Music) at Ideas Test, talks us through what he thinks are the key skills and attitudes needed to make a success of the role.
1 – Think about the audiences
When planning stuff for the music programme, the very first thing I do is think about the audience. You almost have to imagine what the experience is going to be like for them. Will they be seated? Do they have to pay? Will they take part? Is this something they’ve done before or completely new? Is it easy to get to? Is it aimed at a particular group? I think if you create a strong audience experience, people are likely to come again and tell others.
2 – Work with artists
Whether you’re putting together a music workshops, a recording, or a live performance you’ll need to be confident working with artists. Often, artists and directors will expect a producer to make their artistic ideas ‘happen.’ That means things like getting venues booked, transport, licensing, insurance, managing money and contracts. Being well prepared for last minute changes, and having a ‘solution-focussed’ mindset go a long way here.
3 – Unusual hours
To reach audiences, many of our music shows and workshops are put on over evenings and weekends, in half terms and summer holidays. At times, this can be gruelling and requires taking a flexible approach to working. For that reason, it’s really important that production teams take breaks during down-time. If you’re leading a production team (as I often am), I think you need to be prepared to get your hands dirty. This will be anything from setting up, packing away to making drinks and cleaning.
4 – Partnerships and networking
All of our music projects simply would not go ahead without the support of external people and organisations. Not only can partners help with things like promotion or venue space, but they can add additional artistic or community expertise and contacts. I’ve always found the most successful partnerships come when people are involved from the beginning and there are clear roles for them. Be prepared to meet them in person, build trust, and invest time. Partners are people after all!
5 – Have creative or technical skills
Being a practising musician and workshop leader with a background in music production, gives me a good understanding of what is artistically possible at Ideas Test. It not only helps when talking to artists or venues on their terms, but helps me to ensure projects have the appropriate music equipment and maintenance regime (eg. tuning instruments, software, PA system etc). Keeping my own performance skills up-to-date, learning from feedback, and reading music news are great ways to ensure I am best placed to support our music projects.
The Ideas Test music programme can be found here.
Got a question for Kevin? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org