Interview | James Bird

Our Music Business and Entrepreneurship student on film and production work with his business, Birdbush...


Music Business and Entrepreneurship student James Bird has myriad strings to his creative bow.

From working as one half of video production company Birdbush Productions (alongside high school friend and Director of Photography Henry Bush), to recording as James Arlington, he has been keeping busy alongside his studies. 

His recent video endeavours have been bolstered by undertaking some filming and content creation for Riot Gulll, ICMP tutor Geraldine Zanaska's music promotions business celebrating women and gender minority fronted bands and DJs. 

Get to know more about James, life within ICMP's School of Music Business, and his exciting venture below... 

What led you to study at ICMP? 

Before my degree, I’d started to work in different areas of the industry and wanted to gain a better understanding of how these aspects work together.

For me, it was important to gain perspective and make the most of my time in London. I’m originally from Norwich and moved to the capital at the end of last summer. The last twelve months have been me essentially building up a new network of contacts and improving my skills. 

Were you creating content before you joined ICMP? 

I’d been doing projects here and there but nothing to an industry standard. So moving to London has helped me focus and given me some additional credibility when it comes to producing content for artists and bands. It’s also given me extra motivation to really push myself. 

What’s Norwich’s music scene like? 

Over the last few years our live scene back home has become really strong. I’m an artist primarily, so everything that I do in terms of Birdbush and any other visual content is on the side. I run a solo project under the name of James Arlington which is self-written, recorded and produced. When I’m not steering the ship at Birdbush I’m dedicated to this, writing new music. 

How have you found the course at ICMP? 

For me, the last academic year has solidified that I’m in the right place and doing what I want to do going forward - creating release campaigns for artists, working on their visual identity and only picking the projects that I’m passionate about. It’s given me the confidence to want to realise all this on a bigger scale. 

ICMP has extended my network and helped me connect with people I wouldn’t have had the chance to meet before. I’m working with people across the different courses and it’s been rewarding to have become part of this."

What have you delved into on the course? 

First year focused on copyright, publishing, the live industry, entrepreneurial skills and a history of the music business. It’s helped to inform my own work outside of the course and push forward some existing skills. 

How did Birdbush come together and what services do you offer? 

I co-founded Birdbush towards the end of 2020 with an old high school friend, Henry Bush. He’s our director of photography and colourist, and like myself, he works on separate projects externally. Our niche is in the music industry and the visual arts, so tying these two together allows us to create bespoke visual release campaigns for artists and consider the visual impact of how that will be received by the consumer. We work on different types of media, whether that be music videos, live sessions or press material. We’re always looking to connect with new artists whether they’re in London or Norwich.

We’ve worked on some short films too, a short we put out called ‘Petty Crime’  won a handful of awards at some independent film festivals in 2021.

How have you grown the business? 

Starting in Norwich was advantageous for us. In terms of its creative community, the city isn’t too big but was enough for us to start working with people. When I came to London, it meant that I had a body of work and a portfolio of projects to share with artists I wanted to connect with. 

What are the current projects you’re working with at the moment? 

We have a couple of artists we’re close to who we often work with - then we have some artists who we do more ad hoc projects for and the work itself depends on the aspirations of the artists themselves. So how they want their visuals to look, if they want that to continue over the rest of the campaign. We’ve done full live sessions for artists where it’s been a handful of songs - it’s all quite varied.

What’s the most exciting aspect of your work? 

We’ve discovered that our niche is often working on unconventional, or quirky music videos that get an interesting response from an audience. A lot of the time we work with artists/bands who want to do something unique. Other times, artists might want something that’s just super polished - we get to do a bit of everything and I’m incredibly lucky to have such creative freedom with a lot of our projects.

I also get to apply what we do with Birdbush to my own music as well - so everything from my release campaigns to promotional assets, for the most part, is all done in-house.

Starting the company came at a time of frustration, as I was seeing other creatives were offering visual services at rates that were too high. I thought this was something we could do ourselves and we’ve been able to progress this to where we are now."

How are you looking to grow the business? 

Later in the year, we’ll both be officially based in London, as opposed to working between here and Norwich. Although Birdbush will always function as a creative duo, we always work on separate projects and aim to get each other involved in post-production or at different stages where possible. We’ve also begun to outsource other freelance creatives to help us with tasks like animation and motion graphics from time to time. This is proving to be a good step forward for us and I hope our network continues to expand.

How did the work with Riot Gulll come about? 

Our module on the Principles of Entrepreneurship and Marketing was led by my tutor Geraldine Zanaska. We had a chat about what I do and Birdbush’s visual output, she explained how she puts on punk nights that support female and non-binary acts and asked if I’d be able to come down and film one of the events. So I travelled down to Folkestone, did some interviews with the bands and put together a highlights reel from the event. 

This had been the first live content we’ve worked on outside of London and Norwich. Geraldine puts on a lot of gigs and shows in Folkestone and it was great to work with her and the bands. 

What else is keeping you busy?

Recently I’ve been working with some incredible writers and musicians and we’re looking to release some new James Arlington material later this year. Keeping all of my eggs in one basket has never been possible for me so I’m always looking forward to new endeavours in the future.

Connect with James on social media here and watch the video to his track as James Arlington, 'Slow Nights'

Photo credit: Bryn Bidwell-Richards

Equally focused on Music Business & Entrepreneurship

The music business is an incredibly competitive environment – and over the last 30 years, ICMP has developed and refined a cutting-edge degree that now focuses equally on entrepreneurship. We’re the first music school in the UK to recognise that you need to understand not just marketing, management, finance, digital, creativity and all the structures and quirks that make the industry unique, but also how to forge your own path, create your own job, and change the future for the better. With access to ICMP’s fully equipped music facilities, exclusive industry events, masterclasses and a peerless contact network, we have it all covered.

To completely immerse yourself in your music career, email our friendly Admissions Team at or call them on 020 7328 0222.

School of Music Business
by ICMP staff writer
June 26, 2023
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