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Warner Music and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation host inaugural youth careers event in Belfast



 

Major music company, Warner Music, and sporting charity, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, have come together with the support of local broadcaster, Cool FM, to host their first ever careers event for young people in Belfast at the city’s Oh Yeah Music Centre.

Taking place on Saturday 24 September, up to 60 young people from across Northern Ireland aged 16-24 will have the opportunity to meet with and hear from the professionals behind the careers of some of the biggest names in music, from Coldplay, Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran and 2022 Eurovision winner, Sam Ryder, to Griff, Joel Corry, Pa Salieu and Tion Wayne. Local songwriter and performer, Jealous of the Birds (aka Naomi Hamilton), who is signed to Canvasback/Atlantic, and Irish rapper, Sello, signed to a joint venture between Atlantic Records, Trust It Entertainment and Warner Music Ireland, will join to share their experiences in the business as artists.

Through a mixture of panels and workshops, participants will hear first-hand how the major record company markets and promotes music and supports artists throughout their career. With the involvement of Cool FM, young people will also get a glimpse into life behind-the-scenes on the airwaves. The sessions will enable attendees to learn valuable business skills and benefit from networking opportunities, bridging the gap between the classroom and the boardroom.

Speakers throughout the day will include Tony Harlow (CEO, Warner Music UK), NI-born Priscilla Kotey (SVP, Warner Music Ireland), Victor Aroldoss (SVP International Marketing, Warner Music UK), Austin Daboh (EVP, Atlantic Records UK), Declan Legge (Manager and Producer, Big Space Studios), DJ Hix (Cool FM and Warner Records), Belfast native Fiona McAuley (Head of Audiences, Atlantic Records UK), Mark Mitchell (Co-President, Parlophone Records), Pete Snodden (Cool FM) and Phil Taggart (BBC / SiriusXM).  

The free-to-attend event marks the first joint event for Warner Music and the Rio Ferdinand Foundation outside of London and is part of the two organisations’ drive across the UK and Ireland to increase equity, inclusion, and access to opportunities in music for young people from underrepresented communities. It follows previous events and initiatives from the Rio Ferdinand Foundation which works with community youth groups across the island of Ireland to support equality and inclusion through training, accreditation and employability pathways.

Speaking ahead of the event, Tony Harlow, CEO of Warner Music UK, said: “Northern Ireland has always been known for its musical talent and heritage; a fact fully recognised by UNESCO when Belfast secured its City of Music designation in 2021. But such artistic talent needs to be underpinned by a strong infrastructure – from managers and marketing professionals to lawyers, accountants and PR experts. Through this event and our partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, Warner Music is opening its doors to the future leaders of the music business and will educate them on how their dreams and ambition to work in the music industry is entirely possible. We want to help young people from all walks of life across the UK and Ireland to find the path that suits them, their skills and their passion, and to feel empowered and enabled to go forward to achieve their dream job.”

Priscilla Kotey, SVP Warner Music Ireland, added: “The team at Warner Music Ireland are super excited to be bringing this event to the island of Ireland. As someone who was born in the North and now works in the South, I could only have dreamt of having this level of access to industry professionals as a young person. Music from Ireland is going from strength to strength and it’s important that we continue to develop and cultivate relationships with emerging talent, not just artistically but within the business of music too.”

Singer-songwriter, Naomi Hamilton of Jealous of the Birds, said: "As a songwriter I'm proud to be part of this event with Warner Music, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and Cool FM to hopefully provide some insight into the dynamics of the music industry from a young artist's perspective. It's paramount for artists to equip themselves to navigate the challenges, triumphs and cycles of a life in music, and in the wake of the pandemic, this event is an essential beacon for that kind of exchange."

Gary Stannett, CEO of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, finished: “We are very pleased to be able to deliver this event in Belfast, the first we have delivered outside of London, to inspire young people into the various careers the music industry can offer. We have been working in Belfast and Northern Ireland for a number of years now with our sports-based programmes, and it’s fantastic to be able to bring our partnership work with Warner Music and Bauer Media / Cool FM to offer new opportunities to young people here. We are aware of the music heritage of Belfast and Northern Ireland and hope that events like this can inspire a new generation in all areas of the industry.”

The event comes less than a year after the crowning of Belfast as a UNESCO City of Music and highlights the role and importance of the music sector to the Northern Ireland economy. 

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