Reflection: life after university and random thoughts

Reflection: life after university and random thoughts

I started writing this whilst finishing my last assignment of my university course, and evidently gave up as it’s now over a year later. This may or may not sum up my post university experience.

I didn’t at the time know exactly what to write as I hadn’t even finished university yet but I wanted to give an insight to even a couple of people if I could about how I felt at the time. I then realised that everyone’s going to feel something different, and now a year later – it might just be the best time to write this.

When it comes to the point in the journey when you’re completing your last exams or assignments, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for most students to be frankly, well, fed up as the end of their the university period draws closer and closer.

Finishing university seemed like an exciting prospect – I was excited to not have to be part of the education train anymore and be free to do / write / be whatever I wanted. My degree was writing related – however towards the end of my degree I ended up sort of despising writing (due to the assignment side of the degree – all my work being critiqued massively which brought my confidence down a little), which is why I wanted to start writing again even if it was just for a small audience – even just my friends and family reading it. Yet, regretfully here I am a year later having not even written a creative sentence since I’ve left university.

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 Coming back to this piece after nearly a year of COVID-19 and lockdown looming, it seems the words I wrote nearly a year ago have become all the more prevalent. With job unemployment reaching an all time high, mental health climaxing and the government struggling to cope with current times.

  If I thought my University and post-university experience was difficult, it’s become obvious that I was one of the lucky ones. With many university students locked in accommodations and attending university virtually.

The struggle I can only imagine of the lack of motivation to learn is more evident than ever – you only have to turn to social media to see the countless reports of students struggling with not only coursework and exams but mental health and social expectations. University should be – above all things – a social haven for anybody and everybody, yet being forced to socialise with only those you live with could prove detrimental to the particularly socially-dependant generation attending university.

 I don’t really know what the purpose of this piece was, and I still don’t – apart from a way to get some of my feelings post university; not knowing what I want to do, lack of support, feeling like you’ve failed at something. One good thing I believe to come from this is friends – seeing my friends and even past university friends succeeding is the little glimmer of hope I believe everyone needs. Whether it be friends or family you’re proud of – or people you see on social media or in the news, being happy for other people and seeing them succeed could be the push you need to succeed yourself. 

Hope everyone is staying safe and remember to take care of your loved ones 🙂 

‘Slavery’ within the music industry and maintaining fan relationships

‘Slavery’ within the music industry and maintaining fan relationships

There’s this sensation people have where they lose interest in things once other people start liking it – the thing that you liked then loses its originality and therefore becomes ‘mainstream’, which is something that is unattractive to many people. This same idea applies to music.

The rise of unsigned artists gracing the music world is ever-present, and so small fan bases are more and more common. A small fan base is enticing to a lot of music lovers and it gives them a better chance of interacting with the band/singer, helping them create a relationship with their favourite artist.

This relationship is special to a lot of fans and so when a band becomes signed or just gains more popularity this can be difficult to take. It’s a bitter-sweet emotion, as any artists’ dream is to be recognized for their work, as with any profession, yet as a fan, you want them all to yourself – a hidden treasure.

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© Wikimedia Commons, Arctic Monkeys performing in 2006

When MySpace was at the height of its popularity in the early 2000s, many unsigned artists used it as a platform to promote their music, with the likes of the Arctic Monkeys, Calvin Harris, You Me At Six and Kate Nash all being signed after they gained popularity on the social media website.

However, this may have caused some disappointment amongst original fans who had supported the artists through their lowest points, backing them even through possible hate and rejection from critics. The success may fill fans with pride, that they got there first, and they ultimately helped the artist get big. Nevertheless, in some cases, once artists sign to a label they are pressured into changing their sound or image, much to the dismay of fans.

In 2015, the late icon Prince warned artists not to sign recording contracts saying,

“Record contracts are just like — I’m gonna say the word – slavery, I would tell any young artist… don’t sign.”

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© Wikimedia Commons, Prince performing in Brussels, 1986

He claimed that signing most contracts with big labels gives artists little control over the music they make, and the companies take big profits for – basically – no work. “Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves,” Prince said of why he chose to join Jay-Z’s own streaming service Tidal. “Jay Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service. We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”

It is evident that most established artists understand the pressures and control record labels have over new artists – and how difficult they are to get out of.

It seems the only resource artists need from record companies is the initial outing of their music – and the finance to get it out there.

Hopefully, in the future, bigger artists will come together to put a stop to the exploitation of new artists when signing record contracts and make it easier to put your own music out independently.

Are CD and Digital Sales dying out?

Are CD and Digital Sales dying out?

How we stream music seems to change through the decades, from vinyl’s starting in the 50s to cassette tapes in the 70s, then CD’s in the 80s, all the way through to the late 90s with mp3 players and now music streaming apps where you can play music from pretty much any device.

However, it seems these old platforms are slowly making a return, most famously: vinyl. After an almost 30-year hiatus from their prime popularity, vinyl’s are unexpectedly making a return – and maybe for good. In 2017 more than 4.2million vinyl albums were sold in the UK alone, their highest level since 1991. Yet it seems it is only vinyl that is making an increase in sales, with both physical and digital album sales decreasing since 2016 by 19.5% according to Nielsen Music’s Q3 report, whilst also stating that vinyl sales are continuing to grow by up to 3.1%. Vinyl has seen a successive climb in sales in the past eight years, despite almost dying out in 2006.

Subsequently, it is due to the incline in vinyl sales and the increasing popularity of streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, that offset the decline in CD sales. WEA, the global distribution, marketing, sales and research arm of Warner Music Group, sent buyout letters to over 130 employees in January of 2018 in relation to physical product (CD’s). The move is in reaction to the declining CD sales mainly in the U.S. in 2017 and with a prediction of a similar decline to happen in 2018, foreseeing a 19.6 reduction in CD sales for 2018.

.It has become evident that more and more people are finding the modern form of music more appealing – with the exception of vinyl – the on-the-go aspect of streaming music from an app on your phone, laptop or tablet is an exciting concept that will surely continue to grow throughout forthcoming years.

What I’m Listening to // Folk & Acoustic

What I’m Listening to // Folk & Acoustic

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The Lumineers – Cleopatra

The unmistakeable raw folk sound from the band who gave you top hit ‘Ho Hey’.

Featuring top single ‘Ophelia’

 

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Charlie Simpson – Young Pilgrim

The first album from ex-boy bander, a surprising folk-pop soun

Featuring top single ‘Parachutes’.

 

 

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Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago

The warming soulful sound, with songs off the album covered worldwide.

Featuring the top single ‘Skinny Love’.

 

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Vance Joy – Nation of Two

One of my favourite albums from the indie-folk artist who brought you top hit ‘Riptide’.

Featuring the top single ‘Like Gold’

 

 

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Alt-J – This Is All Yours

The world famous folktronica band, liven up the typical folk sound.

Featuring the top single ‘Left Hand Free’.

Christian Reilly at Liverpool’s famous Hot Water Comedy Club

Christian Reilly at Liverpool’s famous Hot Water Comedy Club

Reilly entered the stage screaming for himself, imitating a crowd cheer as the audience were initially silent – “I’m from Nottingham, so you have a right to be excited”, the sarcasm dripping from his voice, as the audience let out a chuckle, “My names Christian but I don’t want people from other cultures to be excluded so I’m using a Jewish microphone!”.

Reilly’s odd comedic style includes a guitar and a cowboy outfit – an unusual appearance for the act who was headlining the gig on Saturday. The audience seemed slightly perplexed at this unusual style, in comparison to the other comedians of the night in their jeans and t-shirts. Yet, despite this and his late arrival, his satirical jokes and witty sense of humour shone through his entire performance – opening with a dig at Coldplay’s ‘same riff in every song’ joke, winning over the audience from the get-go.

Liverpool’s iconic Hot Water Comedy Club hosted five comedians on Saturday night, ending with Christian Reilly. Up until this date Reilly’s career as former part of the Perrier award-winning show Otis Lee Crenshaw and the Black Liars, had taken him around the world multiple times.

Since then, he has gone solo, making a name for himself in comedy clubs around the country – headlining the majority of them despite being more unknown than most headliners.

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The stage at the comedy club.

Reilly isn’t shy in revealing chunks of his personal life for comedic gain – typical of his usual performance style, with the second joke in the show poking fun at his previous failed relationships, and recent bad break-up – however, lightening the mood through the C and D chords on his guitar, portraying a typical ‘sad song’.

Although, unlike most of the comedic line-up that night, Reilly had little interaction with the audience which was unusual for most acts at the comedy club, with their audiences eager for interaction with the comedians. However, all Reilly did was address one woman at the back who couldn’t stop laughing – “Yeah it wasn’t that funny!”.

Reilly addressed some political issues throughout his set, with a song about the ‘difficulty’ of being Donald Trump ‘Trumpin 9 to 5’, where Reilly sang about Trumps controversial views on race, finances, and global political and social issues.

The climax of Reilly’s set was the mockery of popular artists, and his divine story-telling ability. His mocking of Ed Sheeran’s ‘Galway Girl’ lit up the clearly alternative audience – the story of meeting an Irish girl who turned out to be Ed Sheeran ended the show on a side-splitting note.

Christian Reilly’s use of putting together the nations love for music and comedy – created a solid structure for his entire show.

Reilly is worth seeing if you haven’t already, his set is always similar, addressing popular figures and using them for comedic gain, however, every show he tries to make personal for the audience, adding a new song, or integrating an audience member into his show – making for a unique performance every time.

Pets Not Profit Campaign

Pets Not Profit Campaign
Pets Not Profit was a campaign I started as part of my 3rd-year University studies,
however, it turned into something much more important.
I became an advocator for animal rights, through my own personal blog Pets Not Profit, with the hashtag Backyard Breeding, and a petition started on Change.org.

Backyard Breeding is a term used to describe amateur animal breeders whose breeding is considered substandard, with little or misguided effort towards ethical, selective breeding.

My campaigns aim was to raise more awareness of backyard breeding – taking into consideration new breeding laws and encouraging people to check conditions thoroughly before adopting animals, in an attempt to stop backyard breeding altogether.

I feel I successfully achieved this through social networking, and a range of articles – published on my own personal blog and the Northern Quota.

The success of my campaign earned me a first-class grade.


Tally’s Story

http://thenorthernquota.org/campaigns/heartbreaking-story-pitbull-tallys-years-abuse-due-backyard-breeding

https://petsnotprofit.wordpress.com/2018/11/06/tallys-story/

My first story – the story that inspired the campaign as a whole – was the story of pitbull Tally. I reached out to owner Adam Householder who told me the heartbreaking story of Tally’s years of abuse due to backyard breeding.

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Click Image for Link to Article.SMLXL


PETA strives for more awareness of Backyard Breeding
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Click on Image for link to ArticleSMLXL


Animal Welfare organisations RSPCA and Dog’s Trust back new breeding regulations
For this article, I spoke to famous dog rescue organisations RSPCA and Dog’s Trust who spoke to me about the backing of new government regulations enforcing tighter restrictions regarding backyard breeding.
Click Image for link to Article.SMLXL

Click Image for link to Article.SMLXL


South Australia already ahead of the game in the fight for the reduction of backyard breeders
For this article, I spoke to local in South Australia Shelley Wells who informed me about up-to-date and more effective regulations involving backyard breeding.
Click Image for link to Article.SMLXL

Click Image for link to Article.SMLXL


Are certain dog breeds being exploited when it comes to backyard breeding
My final article was inspired by numerous stories I had heard when researching backyard breeding – with a specific focus on pit bulls, and brachycephalic dog breeds such as bulldogs and pugs, who are bred for specific appearances. I spoke to animal advocacy group ‘Howl To Help Animal Advocacy Group’ about this important issue.
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Click Image for link to ArticleSMLXL

 

BLARE Magazine Project

BLARE Magazine Project
Working as part of a 5-piece group, we were tasked to create our own full magazine, with an equal number of pages each. We chose to create a music magazine, based primarily around less-known artists.
We each took on a particular music genre within this category – mine being folk and rock, as well as feature pieces based on something we were passionate about.
The finished production earned us a first-class grade, although looking back the finished product could use some tweaks, as an amateur production, I am extremely proud of what myself and my team produced.

Get right into the heart of Liverpool’s seasonal celeberations

Get right into the heart of Liverpool’s seasonal celeberations

Liverpool probably isn’t the first place you think to go at Christmas time (unless of course you are local and want to do some Christmas shopping!), but year after year it’s becoming one of my favourite places to visit at Christmas time, and this year is no exception – this can be attributed to DreamWorks who are opening an exclusive ‘illuminating lantern experience’ at St George’s Hall.

This exciting DreamWork’s exhibition includes characters from the likes of Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Madagascar. According to the visitliverpool site, the exhibition consists of ‘100 spectacular figures and 25 enlightening and memorable scenes’. I won’t give too much more away, but if the giant Shrek peeking out from the top of St Georges Hall isn’t enough to tempt you to go then I don’t know what is!

The famous Ice Festival is also back – which last year was situated on top of Liverpool One, consisting of an ice skating rink, carnival rides and food and drinks stalls galore! Also don’t miss the chance to play on the games stalls around the festival, making it really feel like a carnival – go on hook-a-duck, you know you want to! However this year, there’s an exciting surprise for visitors to the Festival – now having moved to the Pier Head, right in front of the Liver Buildings which are beautifully lit up creating a wonderfully festive atmosphere. The Ice Festival now includes an ice rink and various stalls, but this time an exciting addition of a 45m ice slide – definitely not one to be missed! There is also something for adults, with an exclusive-to-the-festival ice bar (which I personally LOVED).

Although Liverpool’s Christmas markets may not be ‘world famous’, they are certainly something to experience. Conveniently placed right outside St George’s Hall, they will ultimately spread across the whole of Liverpool city centre. The stalls have an array of Christmas goods, from seasonal hot beverages, to traditional German sausages to sweets galore!

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The Christmassy locations in Liverpool not only offer a fun day out for people of all ages, with the numerous fairground rides like the carousel, helter skelter and mini roller coaster on top of Liverpool One. The Ice Festival itself offers fun activities like the ice rink, ice slide and the famous Ice Bar – providing fun for all generations!

The Christmas Markets located all across Liverpool Town Centre, from St Johns Shopping Centre to Liverpool One all the way down to the Albert Dock and Pier End – meaning everywhere you go it’s officially Christmas time.

The stalls at the markets not only offer festive themed food and drinks but also handmade memorabilia, from candles, to wooden ornaments to wind-chimes and beautiful flower arrangements. This provides you with the opportunity to buy stuff for yourself and even a Christmas present for a loved one, with that unique charm that the item is a one-off and is unlikely the receiver will have seen it anywhere else (and you won’t have to break the bank to buy it!)

The return of the ‘Snowflake Trail also offers shoppers an exciting treasure hunt style activity. The snowflakes are placed all over Liverpool, similar to the previous superlambananas, yet adding an enchanting Christmas feel to the trail. The snowflakes are ‘decorated by twelve of the region’s most exciting visual artists‘. This trail adds not only a fun activity to add some excitement to your day in Liverpool but also the chance to tweet when you find a snowflake and interact with others in Liverpool who have found it – this as well as the Christmassy feel they add to the city centre.

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The Liverpool Christmas celebrations are definitely one to visit this Christmas, with stuff for all generations to enjoy – and the biggest pro, they’re not a million miles away, practically right on your doorstep!

Roadworks on Oxford Road

Roadworks on Oxford Road

Although the new plans for Oxford Road may be impressive and make one of the busiest roads in Europe somewhat less busy and more accessible for buses, taxis, bikes and pedestrians, the disruption to the roads usual flow in the meantime is causing some major issues for commuters in Manchester.

Many bus routes have been cancelled or delayed due to these ongoing roadworks, with many commuters having to find alternative routes to work or uni. The plans for Oxford Road may provide these commuters with easier transport once they are finished, but in the meantime they are causing major disruption – especially coming up to the busy Christmas period. The new ‘bus gate’ means drivers must turn right at Hathersage Road between 6am and 9pm, 7 days-a week.

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The roadworks are not only disrupting bus routes for commuters but also providing some issues with pedestrians with loud drills and diggers creating some chaos, and also some disruption to paths, with many commuters having to walk along dangerous roads to get to their destination.

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The roadworks have also affected access from side roads along Oxford Road, including roads leading to MMU Buildings, which may cause major disruption to students and staff at MMU.

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