How to be a music business success with ICMP alumnus Yasmin Rai

We ask ICMP music business graduate Yasmin Rai what it takes to succeed in the industry...


Studying music business can be one of the most rewarding music industry career paths, particularly with all the industry upheaval within recent years. 

Yasmin Rai is one of ICMP's recent music business graduates who has gone on to enjoy some success since completing her studies, working both as a plugger and press assistant. She returned to ICMP for a session on working in the music business so we thought it a good time to catch up with her to trace her post-classroom journey... 

How did you start out in the music industry? 

I’ve been involved in music in some way or another since I was just a kid, but starting the music business degree at ICMP definitely kick-started the journey for me to pursue working in music as a career. I spend most of my time at gigs, and through making the right connections both out at shows and at university, it gave me the opportunity to work in the industry with some really awesome bands and artists. I was given my first job in the music industry two years ago as a radio and television plugger, and I’ve been working variously as a plugger and press assistant ever since. 

What drew you to ICMP and the music business course? What were the best things you learned while studying at ICMP? 

Everyone at ICMP was so friendly and the lecturers have always given me so much support, and living in London is obviously a massive plus. There are plenty of nights where I’ll go to several gigs in an evening. There’s so much going on in this city!" 

When I came to the open day, I saw a taster lesson going on and the premise of the lesson was the ‘essence’ of the music industry, and that it revolves around two things: music and people. Hearing it summed up so succinctly like that really chimed with something in me and I knew this would be the right place to be. Fast-forward three years and it was definitely the right decision!

Could you explain a little about the various roles you've enjoyed since finishing your studies? What have been your proudest achievements? 

While I was studying I had some amazing opportunities working in PR as a radio and television plugger and spending six months at a publicity company working as a press assistant, getting plays and coverage for acts on national radio like BBC 2 and 6 Music, Radio X and Planet Rock.

As for proudest moments, I took a band to Later… with Jools Holland and we ran through their rehearsals, ready for the show in the evening. Spending time at Abbey Road and major festivals has been awesome, and you really do have to think on your feet and keep smiling when things are getting stressful.

At Download 2016 my tent flooded and I had to get my acts through a load of interviews the next day, with no worldly possessions or phone signal to be found. A very weird adventure ensued, but happily with a bit of ingenuity, unabashed determination and a rainproof poncho borrowed from festival security, I got my acts through all their radio coverage and it was a total success. That’s showbiz, I guess!" 

What would you advise anyone looking to study music business? 

Go for it! It’s a great way of getting to grips with the ins-and-outs of the music industry in general, so that when you do start working you will have fast-tracked your way through all the jargon and hopefully started meeting people who will be part of your journey. Studying in a city like London is so important in working with the whole lifestyle - late nights and early starts!

It’s really important to be out there all the time. You should be going to gigs as often as you can, making friends with as many people involved in music as possible. Also, don’t be intimidated by this word ‘networking’. You’re doing it just by hanging out with people who are an active part of whichever scene you’re in. Make sure you throw yourself at whatever comes up, as there are no ‘half measures’ in this industry - it’s all or nothing! So having a music business degree in your arsenal is a great way of getting involved and really showing your dedication.  

What are the main characteristics and skills a successful music industry professional needs to have? 

You need to be a really good listener, taking in as much information as you can at all times. Be patient, always amiable and friendly, persistent and hungry for music all the time. Try not to ever be star struck, even when you see someone you have an unholy crush on, and try not to be fazed in situations that are difficult or downright odd. Stay cool!

Have you any advice for our current students/aspiring music industry professionals?

You will definitely make it if you have confidence and passion. And confidence doesn’t always mean being loud and overt – it can mean being quietly assured that you love what you do and will push for it, no matter what obstacles might come up." 

You have to remember that, just like in any creative industry, there is someone who wants it more than you and will fight for it. So make sure you’re always in the game and doing what you can to make friends who will chase the dream with you. Also, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to do right now. Go for whatever you can and the right thing will come to you. I had no idea when I enrolled on the course that I’d be working in PR, and I don’t doubt that there’s plenty more to do in the years to come. 

What does the future look like for you?

This summer I’ll be starting an online initiative with loads of fun video content and live events for G.I.R.L. (Gigs In Real Life) with my classmate/partner in crime, so keep a lookout for that! I’ll keep on plugging and looking after bands at festivals this year. Beyond that, I hope I'll be following my dream in music and staying endlessly inspired. 

Study Music Business at ICMP 

ICMP offers music business courses aligned to industry for entrepreneurs looking to take that next step towards developing a long-term successful career in the music business.

Every year we strive to continually connect our students to high-profile industry professionals - through seminars, Q+A's and panel events held at our Kilburn campus. This ensures ICMP music courses remain up-to-date and relevant to today's ever-changing music industry. This year's been no exception, here are just a handful of the many guests who've passed on their advice and insight to our students this year:

Pete Simmons - A&R Manager, Universal Publishing
Martin Dell - A&R Manager, Columbia
Alex Eden-Smith - Head of Marketing, Columbia 
Toby L - Founder, Transgressive Records
James Endeacott - Founder, 1965 Records
Phil Loutsis - Director of Label Management, AWAL
Maz Tappuni - Promoter, Communion Records
David Manders - Manager, Liquid Management
Jess Kinn - Agent, Coda
Jess Partridge - Founder, London in Stereo
Joe Parry - Senior Publicist, Inside/Out 
Jason Carter - Founder, Get On Music
Joel De’ath - Label Manager, Music For Nations/Sony

If you're interested in studying a music business honours degree in London in 2018, contact our Admissions Team on 020 7328 0222 or email who will be able to guide you through the application process. 

Music Business Degree


by Jim Ottewill
May 30, 2018
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