Q&A: David MacSorley

Hattie Fisk
Monday, November 1, 2021

UK schools outreach manager at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), David MacSorley is transforming the mindsets of young creatives one careers fair at a time. Hattie Fisk catches up with him.

Alan Thornton

HF: Can you tell me about what you do as UK schools outreach manager at BIMM?

DM: I manage a team that nurtures BIMM's relationships with schools, colleges, and other education institutions such as music education hubs. We travel around the UK attending all the major exhibitions and careers fairs, talking about careers in the music industry and pathways into those careers. My team aims to broaden horizons about what working in music means. It is not necessarily about being a musician or producing music – there are a whole host of careers in the music industry that students might not have thought of, such as law, marketing, finance, journalism, or event management.

HF: How do you communicate with students in an accessible way?

DM: If we are visiting a school or college we haven't been to before, the first thing we would usually offer is that we would take one of our student or alumni bands with us. They usually perform a couple of tracks for the students and then host a Q&A. We find it is really important to give prospective students the opportunity to ask current or previous BIMM students what their experience was like, as these chats can be really informative while being accessible.

HF: Why do you feel your outreach team is so important?

DM: Our work is so exciting because it transforms the way people view the music industry. It is a common misbelief, as I have witnessed at some careers fairs, that individuals pursuing careers in the music industry have a very slim chance of success – this is just not the case. If you want to be headlining Glastonbury as a lead singer, then of course there is a slimmer chance of success, but the industry is huge! When you look at a performance at Glastonbury, there are actually hundreds of people involved in that one stage, and they all have different jobs. Even if you do want to be the lead singer, BIMM can help you with that, but our work involves some myth-busting. There is a particular slide I use when I go into schools: the music industry split into the solar system, and all the different roles are planets. Teachers tend to ask for that image afterwards, because it is so useful in myth-busting the narrow view that is commonly shared when thinking about careers in the music industry.

HF: How do you ensure students are employable after completing a course at BIMM?

DM: We take pride in the fact that our tutors are either still actively working in the music industry or have real-world experience that they then pass on to our students. We offer practical help, and we are keen not to make students feel like they are walking out of university with a piece of paper and no experience. I think it is important to show people that this is an alternative way to study at university – you can launch your career while you are there, rather than waiting until you leave or just seeing what you can do with your qualification. A couple of years ago we spoke to over 200 industry professionals about their careers and what they would look for in the perfect employee; BIMM worked backwards from there to rewrite courses in a way that makes our students the most employable they can be.

HF: How are you promoting equality in your outreach work and your courses at BIMM?

DM: Every student should be given the same opportunity, and we prioritise equal opportunities. I think it is key, especially with our educational institute being focused on the creative industries. Quite often, the creative mind isn't necessarily the stereotypical high-performing academic mind, and we approach it from that perspective. We want our students to be judged on their merit rather than on things that are written down on paper. That is why our outreach events are always free and can be held at any school across the country, regardless of location.


To arrange a free careers event for your students, visit www.bimm.ac.uk/school-tours