On Friday the 28th March I had the pleasure of attending the Go Think Big Sessions, which took place at the swanky building The Studio.  Attending the session for me was really important as I needed a few tips and advice about Journalism and entertainment overall. The day started with a special guest appearance from the arising artist Jacob Banks as he graced us with his fused melodies from Whitney Houston,Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill. As always it’s a pleasure to see Jacob  every time.

GoThinkBig comes to Birmingham
GoThinkBig comes to Birmingham

After Mr Banks intimate performance we had the chance to have a Q & A session with the panelist from sports, music, fashion and entertainment.

Gary Peal (Birmingham City Council Business Development)

Rob Lake (Director The Albion Foundation West Bromwich)

DJ Sextex (BBC 1xtra and Senior A&R Executive for Universal Records)

Will Trotter (BBC Executive Producer for Drama Production) 

Pam Cheema (Director + Fashion Stylist -Frock on vintage)

Ammo Talwar MBE –Punch Records

 What key quality are you looking when discovering new talent in sport?

Rob- Good performance, personality and for new generation to inspire others.

How has your career changed from when you first started to now (2014)?

Gary- In the 1970’s if you wanted to be in leisure you had to be a p.e teacher, nowadays there’s a lot more options and courses are available in sport.

For people wanting to work for record labels as A&R’s, how do you get to work for music labels?

Semtex- Make people come to you, start networking with local talent and also apply for internships. Semtex then went on to say for musicians that are just starting out and looking to the best platform to get notice, he would recommend YouTube as a lot of industry to look out for arising stars and are always looking for the next big musicians.

How did you go from DJ to A&R?

Semtex – Being a DJ required him to promote for some clubs and off the back of promoting he was asked by labels to start a street team and promote some of their artists as well do club promotions. However having promoting  Dizzee Rascal and playing his music on radio and in clubs he got labels to listen and gained a lot of trust from Dizzee and other artists.

How to learn from mistakes

Semtex- If you don’t get the job you really wanted the biggest mistake to do is to take it personal- Don’t take knock backs personal

Rob – Being distracted and not focused on being a professional sportsman- Don’t hold back just go for it.

Ammo- Emerge yourself

Gary- When a mistake has been made and your responsible-  just be honest and own up to your mistakes.


After the Q&A session we then had the opportunity to go into our chosen industry workshops of music, sport, entertainment and fashion. I was solely interested in the music and entertainment session. The guest speaker for my entertainment session was Sophie Cullinane editor for the De Brief and also contributed a few women articles with Grazia, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Company and Fabulous.  As I’m always looking for new ways to develop my blog ‘Inspire My Smile’ by gaining new readers around the world, Sophie did give fairly useful tips.

For all the aspiring journalists/bloggers it’s all about finding our taste makers.

We need to reach out to music PR’s, club promoters and keep pitching. Sophie believes that we have lost touch with pitching and recommends old school pitching to universities, making phone calls and emailing to editors of magazine’s. Another useful tip is to learn HTML if you want your own website and magazine as this will be beneficial in the long run. Nowadays we can take a short course in journalism/media as a easier route in to the industry.Lastly pick up other skills that might be required like photography as an example.

If your someone looking to get in to the creative arts industry I would strongly recommend http://www.gothinkbig.co.uk as they have tons of advice and opportunities and also http://www.ideastap.com both websites are very useful and have given me a few good stepping stones.

Check out  http://www.thedebrief.co.uk/author/sophie-cullinane

Highlights from Go Think Big Birmingham Sessions

Words by Vanessa Ryan


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