Following last week’s careers event, English undergraduate and member of the School of the Arts (SOTA) Student Press Team, Fred Johnson, has been picking up some careers advice from Felicity Pilsworth – David Guetta’s tour and production assistant:
Keen students, aspiring music industry workers, and curious bystanders considering a masters degree flocked into the law building last week to hear former MA Music Industry Studies student Felicity Pilsworth share her experiences as David Guetta’s Tour and Production Assistant.
The talk covered the topic of working in the music industry from several different angles, and Felicity touched upon her own difficulties as a female in a predominantly male industry to shed light upon issues others may also face. She also emphasised, somewhat reassuringly for those present, that her MA had proven hugely useful in the challenges she’d faced, even though formal qualifications are not strictly required for such work. In particular she cited her degree as a main factor in convincing people in the industry to “take her seriously”.
And being taken seriously is important. During the event Felicity recalled her first proper job working in the Alexandra Palace, where she was helping to organise a gig attended by over ten thousand people crowding to see Will.i.am support David Guetta. Obviously this was a stressful experience, but Felicity cited it as an amazing one and, looking back, laughs: “It’s strange that that is normal now”.
The confidence and authority following such events has helped to grant her more power in the industry’s circles; as she put it: “You need to acknowledge your own value. Play to your own strengths.”
An interesting point Felicity made that viewers were perhaps not expecting, was to be found in her emphasis of the importance of role models. This seemed especially true for Felicity, who found herself surrounded by terrifying characters demanding respect and authority. She recounted her first blunder and remembered how upset she was from it: “Even now I take everything to heart.”
Since then she has found strong, fierce women working high up in the industry and sought to become like them. Responding to a question about where she’d like to be in five years’ time, Felicity said: “I want to be one of these powerful women, but not at the cost of my personal life.”
This rift between personal life and success in the music industry was one that Felicity stressed. She highlighted difficulties that could arise from getting too friendly with co-workers you may then have to discipline, and admitted that “you have to be quite selfish”. This may not be what people want to hear, but Felicity pushed the point home: “You have to be ruthless… you will not get anything unless you push hard for it.”
But she also believes you can be fierce and ruthless in the industry while still holding onto your personality. She said: “Choose how you want to be and be that way regardless of your personality.”
Sage advice, and the conclusion is clear: in such a cut-throat profession, you have to stay on your toes and be firmly independent. This has its upsides, and Felicity was quick to point them out: “When I don’t like what I’m doing, I change it.”
Such job flexibility is enviable, but for Felicity the rewards were far closer to home: “I love the atmosphere, I love the music, I want to go to these shows! I have such a passion for this music and it helps me carry on.”
Inspiring words indeed, and a suitable high note to end on – I imagine Felicity left that day with more than a few converts in her wake.
By Fred Johnson