Leanne Page talks to The London Word about her mentor scheme, The Starling Sessions, aimed at helping budding artists to move their career within the music industry forward.
Page grew up in Harrow-on-the-Hill and decided to take up singing after starting a professional broadcasting course at 18. She performed professionally for two years, playing at the legendary Astoria and other top venues.
Where did you get the idea for The Starling Sessions?
‘I realised I had a flair for organising people and it occurred to me to start my own management agency for DJs and session musicians. I worked as project manager for Sony, BMG, EMI to name a few before starting the Fundraising Academy in 2010, created to support people entering the charity sector focusing on training and development. Eventually I took the same ideas and decided to apply them to the music industry. And that’s how The Starling Sessions was born.
‘I saw how the processes of helping people find skills to get into the charity sector could be tweaked to help artists break into the music industry. With the right support, tools and know-how anyone can succeed in any field. Naturally drawn to music it just seemed logical.’
Is London a difficult city to break into as an artist?
‘Any career can be challenging in any city without the best support and training to hand. If an artist is willing to work hard and develop their talents while still retaining what makes them unique then they can break through in any city. The Starling Sessions offers self-management skills as one of many things that a modern artist could benefit from if they want a lasting career in this industry. Other courses include marketing, branding and even Photoshop – all key skills to help an artist break through.’
How does mentoring help?
‘No one has all the answers, but mentoring means that experiences and knowledge of the industry get shared. Established artists can speak of their biggest challenges, the industry pitfalls and how hard work really pays. These lessons coming from the lips of an inspiring mentor can make a real difference to an artist’s outlook and understanding.’
Are you concerned about cuts to the arts industry?
‘Arts investment is important because music is a record of our cultural heritage – just as vital as any museums. Having said that, the British arts industry is a resilient one and it will survive. I expect there are some artists who could be brilliant and might not get the opportunities they would have before the cuts. That concerns me.’
What do you like and dislike about London?
‘I love the people. London is full to bursting point with the best creatives, artists and personalities. What is my least favourite thing? Tube delays!’
For more information visit thestarlingsessions.com.