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YOU festival at Liverpool's LMA with Robbie Williams

LMA, the music, media and performing arts institution co-owned by Robbie Williams, hosted a new student festival - You Festival. Julia Mason (aka The Decibel Decoder) reports


Robbie Williams at YOU festival Liverpool LMA

To see an artist who has achieved global success in the music industry giving something back to the grassroots is inspirational. Liverpool Media Academy (LMA) is the renowned music, media and performing arts institution co-owned by  Robbie Williams. This week it welcomed over 2,500 of its students to the inaugural YOU Festival  at the  M&S Bank Arena  Liverpool – featuring inspiring conferences, panels and workshops from the creative industry’s most recognised individuals and prestigious companies.

The opening day of YOU Festival saw Chris ‘Woody’ Wood (Bastille), Si Delany (Don Broco) and Jason Perry (Grammy Award winning producer for McFly) take to the stage for a fascinating panel discussion on their careers and experiences in the music industry, with Woody lifting the lid on why Bastille’s chart-topping hit Pompeii was such a success.

The Bastille drummer shared:  “For anyone that is songwriting out there, I guess the song (Pompeii) unwittingly ticked a lot of boxes. So the ‘eh, eheu, eheu’ hook at the start, that’s a language which makes it universal. You don’t have to understand English to grasp that. The structure of the song is different in every chorus which I’ve also noticed that more and more on a lot of bigger songs.”

Tuesday saw iconic Liverpool comedian John Bishop entertain a pack-out auditorium with an exclusive stand-up routine, stories from his career as well as taking questions from the enthusiastic attendees about his rise to stardom and how stand up helped with his mental health.  John Bishop said:  “Somebody said to me last week ‘Stand up is for people who don’t want to go to counselling’, and in many respects that’s absolutely what happened. I did the stand up purely as a way of getting my head around what was going on in my life”   

Bringing the event to an impactful finish, Michael Loney (Robbie Williams' manager), Richard Wallace (Chief Executive of LMA), Simon Moran (Managing Director of  SJM concerts) and Lucas Green (COO of Banijay) joined together for the closing panel in which they shared stories of their journeys and possible pathways into the creative industries with students.    

Also in attendance were over 110 industry specialists hosting workshops in music, film and TV, dance, acting, gaming and musical theatre. There were plenty of other incredible events across the two days that spanned from hip hop workshops to acting networking. Industry guests included those from YouTube, Sky, Soundcloud, EMI, ITV Academy, Channel 4, Primary Talent, Kilimanjaro Group, Scruff of the Neck, Beggars Group, Glastonbury, Edinburgh Fringe, Fremantle UK, Little Dot Studios and more. 

By night, the M&S Bank Arena turned into fully fledged indoor campsite with over 200 eco-friendly cardboard tents, a solution LMA devised to offer affordable and safe accommodation to attendees. The arena also featured an array of evening activities including performances from LMA Level 6 students, cinema screens, a silent disco and an indoor funfair.

Richard Wallace, CEO of LMA said:  “We have a saying ‘if not you then who?’, and that really is where YOU Festival arrived from. LMA have always placed a huge importance on exposing our students to those in the industry. But we wanted to go one better, to create something that genuinely brings you in the same room as these people, allows you to chat, to be spotted, and to really be inspired. YOU Festival has made this possible, and we look forward to bringing it back it even bigger and better next year.  We are pleased to announce we have a six year partnership with the M&S Bank Arena for future festivals.”  

Founded in 2009, LMA is one of the fastest growing music, media, and performing arts institutions in the UK, with campuses in both Liverpool and London. Celebrating talent, diversity and inclusivity by breaking down the barriers into higher education LMA has campuses at the Metquarter Liverpool and Here East London.  It offers degrees in:  

Acting & Performance  

Dance Performance  

Digital Film & TV Production  

Digital Games Arts  

Music Performance & Industry  

Musical Theatre   

All LMA courses are practically focused and are delivered by world class industry professionals. Priding itself on having unrivalled connections and links with those in the creative industry, YOU Festival is its latest initiative to provide invaluable insights and experience to students that helps bridge the gap between finishing education and entering the industry. 


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