Hollie Doherty was one of you lucky lot who got the chance to learn from music industry experts from O2 and Boiler Room, work shadow the pros, and help to stage a live event at the O2 Academy Leeds. That was back in December 2016, and after hearing from a panel of music experts from O2 Music, Boiler Room, and FRUKT, she realised this was the industry she wanted to be in. After the Boiler Room opportunity, Hollie took a gap year to gain work experience and work her way into the industry. Since then she’s been on the hunt for opportunities and gained work experience at Kerrang! magazine, work shadowed at the Rag’n’Bone Man gig during War Child BRITs Week and attended TEDxTeen at indigo at The O2. It was at TEDxTeen where Hollie met (hold the phone please) Elton John’s manager, who then agreed to be her mentor (how amazing, right?!).
Hollie has also done a lot of festival work off the back of the Boiler Room opportunity, which has included actually working backstage working with artists *and* doing all the pre-production. She’s also worked with Rock City as a club promoter so defs knows a few things about music and breaking into the industry. Hollie attended BIMM on the Music Business course in London and though she didn’t have enough academic qualifications she got in based on her GCSE grades, her credentials and her experience.
Hollie is now working at O2 venues as an O2 Angel, she’s learning how to DJ and is looking to host an event with a DJ she met at Go Think Big’s Music Careers Unlocked Event.
Here are five tips from Hollie on how being a little pushy, proactive and persistent can help you get more opportunities…
1. “Always meet in person when you can, nothing beats real life contact”
“When you’re doing work experience placements, remember you’re there for a reason, so do everything you can to make the most out of that experience – and that includes speaking to people. Even at networking events, always speak to the people you’re interested in afterwards. Ask them questions, ask them for their email or to go for a chat. It’s easier to build those useful contacts face to face.”
Hollie initially met Nicola and Kate from The O2 Events Team at TEDxTeen, and then again at the Behind the Scenes event at The O2. After asking for their advice she applied to be an O2 Angel and now she’s already done four or five shifts!
2.“Acknowledge the opportunities you’ve been given”
“After Boiler Room I wrote personalised thank you cards with each person’s name, because I genuinely wanted them to know how much they had impacted me and shaped my understanding of the industry. The good thing about being grateful is that if I was to go back to them now, there’s more of a chance they’d remember who I was – all it takes is a little kind gesture of acknowledgement. It doesn’t take long!
3. “Help other people and then they’re more inclined to help you”
“At the Boiler Room opportunity, one of the artists, Holy Goof, asked for bottled water. I checked with the venue and they didn’t have any! Without even thinking, I took it upon myself to go to Morrisons and get some bottled water, with my own money. I ran there and back to get some water and got it to him. When they found out what I’d done they were all a bit taken aback – and when he heard what I did, he put me on the guestlist for one of his shows!”
Hollie reminds us to basically focus on being indispensable, rather than being centre of the spotlight. It’s easy to want to get your voice heard, but it’s not just about being the loudest – it’s about being essential. Hollie puts it like this: “If you can go out of your way, do it, because they’ll notice that.” So let’s make sure to never underestimate the power of going out of your way – even if it’s just a small task.
4. “Do as much as you can – go for everything”
“After Boiler Room, when I realised Music was the industry I wanted to go into, I would only apply to Music related opportunities. And actually, I feel like that was limiting me – after all, you can’t just sit around and wait for an opportunity. In fact, one of the biggest opportunities that helped me was TEDxTeen – and that wasn’t explicitly music related at all and I got so much more from it than just a free lunch!”
Each of the opportunities that Hollie took part in helped her in some way. Remember, it’s all experience and you can’t lose anything from that, you can only gain. It’s all learning – even if it means realising something really isn’t your thing. She also makes a valid point that “so many people work really hard to go into jobs that they don’t even enjoy, and then they’re stuck. I think it’s really important to realise when something doesn’t interest you, because then you get closer to what your passion is!”
When Hollie did work experience at Kerrang! it made her realise that journalism wasn’t her passion, however it made her fall in love with London, which is something she never really understood before that. And now she attends university in London!
Keep in mind – it’s just as important to realise what you’re uninterested about just as much as it’s important to realise what inspires you!
5. “When it comes to rejection, don’t be an amateur, be a pro”
“I remember after I was rejected by Sony, which I was really upset about, I was inspired by Claudia at TEDxTeen to make artwork out of the letter. And I did that. And it did help.”
How you react to rejection defines you as a person. No one really talks about rejection. You never see people posting ‘Went for a job a didn’t get it’ or ‘I asked this person out and they said no.’ People feel they need to show success. Hollie tells us about the classic examples on how to deal with rejection – lessons learnt from JK Rowling, Walt Disney, Colonel Sanders. What we can learn from them is don’t let rejection knock you down to the point where it throws you completely. It’s one opinion after all, and one opinion shouldn’t define you. Basically, it’s okay to not feel great when you get rejected, but you can’t afford to wallow too much – you have to get back out there and keep looking for other stuff.
“At TEDxTeen, I met Prince’s manager, and she then got in touch with me (after I emailed her and kept in contact) about a job being Nicole Scherzinger’s PA for the X Factor. When I then told them I was going to university, they said no based on the fact that they thought I should give my all to my degree.”
For Hollie, that rejection was hard – because it would have been an amazing opportunity for her, but also she had just moved to London and didn’t have family around her to help her through the rejection. She was absolutely distraught and devastated – she even admits she definitely did cry!
Then she reached out to someone she respected a lot, her tutor Ian Mack. He told her – “In any situation, you have a choice to either be the professional or the amateur. The amateur gets bogged down and feels rubbish and wallows constantly but the pro takes it on the chin and moves on to the next thing – brush yourself off and take responsibility.”
Hollie learnt that you can’t go through life blaming everything other than you – so take responsibility for your attitude. Improve yourself and try again. Don’t keep it bottled up – talk to someone who you admire or look up to. It’s okay to be upset but you need to use that energy getting better and ahead of the game.
Hollie’s final words of wisdom…
She said “people in the music industry talk to me about their journeys which are all so varied – there’s no set path you can take. You don’t have to follow a specific route. I thought my route would be school, A Levels, university, job, but really it was school, BTEC college, dropping out of college, a gap year doing work experience at festivals, last minute decision to go to university, get involved in all things I can!
Most people leave university not knowing what they really want to do – and to be honest I still don’t know what I want to do! But at the minute I’m just keeping my options open, trying things and realising what I enjoy. Tick and cross things off as you go along – there’s no rush!”
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