Andy Sankey, Chief Examiner Music Performance and Production

For many people, thinking about music education brings up memories of being forced to play a recorder in a school assembly hall, a painful experience for both performer and audience.

This form of delivery is often unengaging and very few people will walk away from it feeling inspired to develop their musical abilities.

Thankfully, music education has become much more open-minded and diverse, encouraging young learners to discover a range of career opportunities and pathways, both on stage and behind the scenes.

It benefits mental wellbeing, it is expressive, creative, enjoyable, and it helps enforce the importance of working collaboratively and collectively.

The music industry is worth £5.8 billion to the UK economy 

The music industry is worth £5.8 billion (2019) to the UK economy, employs over 200,000 people and is something most of us are exposed to in our everyday lives, either by choice or cognitively. Without music, TV, film, and games for example, would not have as much emotion, intensity or suspense.

In films such as ‘James Bond’ , originally composed by John Barry, and more recently David Arnold, musical motifs are used to remind the audience of locations and characters. Without the John Williams score for the 1975 film based on the Peter Benchley novel ‘Jaws’, Steven Spielberg’s career could have been over before it started (If you have not seen this film, you should watch it and if you have, or when you do, watch the opening scene without sound to experience and realise the importance of the score).

With the increasing development in gaming, more money has been afforded to the production of supporting audio and music, with the score and audio supporting the action and financially attracting accomplished composers and artists. Music synchronisation, used primarily for TV idents, advertising and radio jingles etc., are mini compositions that catch the attention of the audience and link melodically and/or harmonically with a product or message in a very short period. These mini compositions come with their challenges but are equally important and lucrative despite being rarely over one minute long. These are all examples of the less thought of music performance and production opportunities available to students and graduates.

And of course, there is performance – the ‘star’ of the show, and why so many people begin to think about a career in music to begin with. Music performance is something people will often associate with popular music (or pop music), and contemporary performers in the many genres they listen to, watch, and engage with in a constantly evolving multimedia world.

The musicians and singers may often be seen as the ‘stars’ of the show, however there are many other opportunities available within music performance productions, such as Dancers, Backing Vocalists, and Session Musicians. Not to mention the team of people who run the show, including Sound Monitoring, Lighting Engineers, Technicians, Costume Designers and Make-up Artists.

All these people are part of the production in some way, and each area helps to communicate and engage with the audience more effectively. Business support also contains various career opportunities, including Managers, A&R, Agents, Songwriters, Merchandise and Marketing. Basically, when one new artist, band or DJ is signed, a business is created.

What does Brexit have to do with music?

The recent events of Brexit and the pandemic have had a big impact on every aspect of the music industry, as with all sectors and industries globally. Brexit negotiations did not include live music as promised. This means that the suggested approach to allow UK musicians and subsidiary businesses to perform, tour and work freely in Europe, was not discussed or represented.

UK Music and many others from the music industry are asking and lobbying for Westminster to re-open the negotiation regarding this. This is not just for UK based musicians — the UK was commonly used by international artists as a gateway to Europe. The crew and tour managers would hire transport and equipment for European tours in the UK.

Before Brexit all insurance and equipment was EU regulated, this unfortunately is no longer the case, so international artists may reconsider if they continue to use the UK in this way. These restrictions will have a negative impact on the music industry and creative arts generally, resulting in decreased income for the economy and career opportunities for artists and those who support them.

Although the current road map out of the pandemic for live music is very positive, (due largely to the Let Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 campaign), there are still some questions and issues to be raised. Over three quarters of the people who work in the music industry in the UK are self-employed and have had to re-consider their career choice and future due to the pandemic and Brexit.

In addition, post Brexit, we will lose some of the technical support, skills, and people due to UK working and travel restrictions. To ensure a successful re-opening of live music events we need people with these skills. Having a live venue open without sound engineers, lighting engineers or technical support is basically an empty room.

How can music education make a difference?

Adapt and overcome; the music industry and careers within, are diverse and offer a host of opportunities and experiences. While some people have natural talent, most are not born with these skills, and with an ever-changing landscape and technology we need to nurture and develop young (and all) people through robust education and experiences. We need on-going talent and skills pipelines, and realistic, engaging, and flexible qualifications that focus on developing skills practically to respond to the needs of the industry. First and foremost, we must always put students at the centre of development and delivery.

To enable this, all students must have access to musical instruments and music education should be available to all regardless of age, social and cultural demographic. Campaigns such as Better Provision for Music Education for example, help to shine a light on the importance of provision.

The music industry and educational experience, formal or not, need to be protected and not forgotten. Extra-curricular (before and after school) and weekend clubs with a vocational approach in delivery and developmental assessment and feedback are a good starting point. Reference to music terminology and theory embedded within these programmes, but not prescribed, along with realistic, engaging projects and delivery is what will help them to thrive. Education must be enjoyable and contextual for successful skills development. Knowledge, understanding and application with on-going self-evaluation and reflection will inform individual progression and development.

Future qualification development

As we move into the future, student’s knowledge and understanding of the industry will need to include and adapt to the issues and problems caused by Brexit. For some time, music business has been a key factor within music education. As technology has changed the way people create, release, and promote themselves and their work, entrepreneurial and creative approaches to reach a global audience using digital marketing and social media for example, have become essential. To enable this, qualifications need to be flexible in delivery and assessment, work in collaboration with industry and have the student experience at the centre of every decision.

The UAL Awarding Body (UAL) Music Performance and Production qualifications were developed to be adaptive and flexible to meet the needs of the students, academically and practically. The development process behind UAL qualifications includes involving representatives from the industry and encouraging creative projects that are realistic and provides the skills required to achieve, adapt, and succeed.

UAL Awarding Body continues to develop relationships within the industry and has recently become the first awarding organisation to be accepted as a member of the Music Academic Partnership (MAP). This new partnership with UK Music will allow UAL Awarding Body to have access to research and resources to inform future qualification development.

Another key area that must be embedded within education and projects, are the new requirements to work within Europe post-Brexit. Engaging with PRS for Music and Musicians Union (MU) for supporting information and materials is where students (and existing professionals within the music industry) should be directed.

The Flowchart Guide to Working in Europe published by the MU is a visual guide to when and what is required and has some important information about touring and gigging in Europe.

This knowledge and understanding is what people working in the UK music industry today need to ensure they are prepared for change and have the confidence to go out into the ‘new’ world.

Andy Sankey, Chief Examiner Music Performance and Production, University of the Arts London Awarding Body

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In Jan 2021, FE News had over 173,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector, putting us in the top 2,000 websites in the UK.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page