Successful graduate Lara inspires the next generation in the music business

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Date: 6th Dec 2018

It’s been quite a 12 months for Buckinghamshire New University graduate Lara Baker after opting to strike out on her own following 13 years working for the Association of Independent Music (AIM).

Lara, who gained first-class honours in BA (Hons) Music Industry Management, has completed her first year owning her own music events, marketing and diversity consultancy and has worked with well-known names including The Great Escape Festival, the Musicians Union, and AmericanaFest UK.

Lara BakerShe has also enjoyed a role as Head of Sessions Programming for BBC Music Introducing Live at Tobacco Dock, in London, this year, her biggest event so far. Lara booked more than 500 industry figures and artists to talk at the event.

Students from the School of Media and Creative Industries at Bucks also enjoyed industry experience by helping run the careers area at the event, ‘UK Music’s Talent Pipeline'.

She returned to Bucks this month to deliver guest lectures to BA (Hons) Music and Live Events Management and BA (Hons) Music Business students on 'Women In Music: The Gender Pay Gap, #MeToo and efforts towards equality', an issue on which she has been a growing voice in in the music business; as well as one on entrepreneurship and sponsorship.

“I like engaging with the next generation of the music business, hearing their views and sharing an insight in to how the industry works,” says Lara, whose growing profile was recognised in 2017 when she was inducted in to the Roll of Honour at the Music Week Women in Music Awards.

“Studying at Bucks was important in understanding the industry fundamentals, such as copyright and all of the different organisations and what they do, before arriving in the business.

“A lot of fellow students who I met are now people that I do business with, so it was the beginning of my professional network.

“It’s been nice to be back, although the University and High Wycombe are pretty unrecognisable. So much has changed since 2005!”

'Still plenty to do' 

Lara said there was ‘still plenty of work to do’ to address the gender pay gap, sexual harassment and assault and to ultimately achieve equality in the music business.

She added: “We have a problem with women and those of BAME backgrounds reaching senior levels so we must address the industry's glass ceiling and unconscious bias.Lara Baker

“Would there have been such a severe music industry downturn in the noughties had there been more women and more diversity around board tables 15 years ago? I think not.

“There has been great progress though and I’m buoyed by the obvious appetite for positive change. Initiatives led by AIM, PRS Foundation, UK Music, and others are having real results, and it’s great to see there have been some significant female appointments and promotions this year.

“That said, clearly we still have problems with the number of women reaching senior levels, the gender pay gap, the treatment of female artists, sexual harassment, unconscious bias, lack of maternity and flexible working policies.”

Career path

Lara gained her role at AIM after taking a year out after her second year to work at the organisation full-time, completing her degree remotely while working at the organisation, eventually progressing to Marketing & Events Director.

During her time at AIM she created the AIM Awards, which were held for the eighth time in 2018 and have honoured a wide array of independent artists, labels and industry figures, including Adele, Björk, The Prodigy and Stormzy.

Giving an insight into working self-employed, Lara said: “The last 12 months have been a rollercoaster.

"Initially I didn't know if I'd be able to secure any clients and if my idea of being self-employed would work at all, but in actual fact the workload this year has been overwhelming at times!

“I have a great list of clients I've worked for, also including Space Rocks, The Artist & Manager Awards, and then my biggest client and challenge, heading up Programming for BBC Music Introducing Live.

"I've learned a lot along the way and worked with some fantastic people.”

Senior Lecturer Paul Fields said: “Students always enjoy it when we bring in guest speakers from industry, and Lara’s talks were no exception.

“What made this particularly inspiring for our students was the fact that Lara was in their shoes in the not-too-distant past. Hearing about how well Lara has progressed through her career since graduating will no doubt spur current students on to achieve similar successes.”

Follow Lara on Twitter.

Did you know? Lara is pictured above with a one-of-a-kind replica guitar signed by award-winning band The Kooks. The 10-ft-high multi-coloured guitar, entitled 'A Disarming No. 7', was one of 25 giant Les Paul guitars exhibited on the South Bank in 2007, as part of the London Guitar Town Exhibition. Its owner, Phil Dudderidge, Managing Director of international High Wycombe-based firm Focusrite, has lent the exhibit to the University in recognition of the company’s ongoing education partnership.

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