Photos taken by Antonio Ross

Behind the music

Reece Iain Ritchie

Posted: 22 March 2022

Currently at university, Reece is just starting out in the music industry and making a big name for himself across multiple roles in the music industry. Take a look at his journey into the industry and what the future holds for him.

Read time - 11 mins

What is it that you do?

It's a difficult one and kind of everything really! I'm still quite young and new to the industry so I try to get involved with as much as possible as I can. As well as all the roles I take on, I'm still a uni student so I’m still working to get my degree, but I'm just about to finish and I'm trying to have touched on as many things as possible so that when I’m in the position to go into a line of work I have an idea or an inkling of how other people work and what particular jobs entail.  

One of the first things that people know me for is the fact that I'm the Music Editor for The Mancunion  - the largest student publication in the UK, and potentially Europe, as well as an independent online publication called - Music Is To Blame. Within these roles; I write up reviews of all different types of shows that I get the chance to attend, predominantly in Manchester, but I’m also fortunate enough to have been able to work nationwide.

I have my radio show called The Northwest Emo Show, where I deliver alternative content as part of student radio. My big aim for this is to try to give a platform to all types of people and all types of music.

Alongside these roles, I’m also a gig rep. So I run gigs frequently in Manchester for a variety of artists and bands. I largely work with a record label called Scruff of the Neck which is the fastest integrated, independent growing label at the moment in the UK. They have been great to work with and have given me the chance to work with so many incredibly talented people.

And then as if that wasn’t enough, I have just started a promotions company, Deadline, and I’m managing a band!

Do you ever find that doing all this alongside studying at university is too much?

Sometimes I’ve thought that I’m doing too much but it's amazingly fun and most of the stuff I do is voluntary, and I only do it because I love it. I have no regrets about the things that I have done. Everything I’ve done has been a great experience and has led me to all these incredible opportunities. Being able to be on the radio and put new bands onto the radio for the first time, even if it's only to a few 100 people is wonderful. Everything I’ve done helped to shape my future and allowed me to figure out what I want to do going forward.

What’s been something that you’ve really enjoyed doing or taking part in?

There are two main things that I will never forget doing. The first is getting to interview Jack Steadman, that was ridiculous! I got to talk to him about his music and all of his independent stuff. And it wasn’t until afterward that sat there and realised... "That's Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club. I just interviewed a Glastonbury headliner."

The other is taking photos of Enter Shikari, and that will be a highlight of my life… forever!But also my day-to-day is something that I love. Ever since my first gig review, just being part of the industry and meeting new people, and networking, not even intentionally just chatting to people about music and then that developing into my job, is just crazy to think about. 

Image credit: Reece Iain Ritchie

What do you see yourself doing in the future?

I've got loads of really exciting things coming up soon! I'm going to be organising festival coverage for the Mancunion, photographing Slowthai, and taking on the role of head rep at Scruff of The Neck!

But long term the dream is to present. I just love interviewing people; I love having discussions and conversations with anyone in the music industry because everyone’s experience is so different. My ultimate dream is to be like Jools Holland, his TV show is legendary and starred some of the most iconic artists for generations, and is something that I've watched for a very, very long while.

Another thing that I’ve always aspired to is hosting the Reading and Leeds festival, the TV coverage, when they have a few hosts, sat up in the tower, and they have the little intimate performances and introduce any of the new bands.

From the number of roles that I’ve taken on I know that I love presenting and working in live events so finding the balance between the two of those is the dream for me.

"Everything I’ve done has helped to shape my future and allowed me to figure out what I want to do going forward."

Have you found any difficulties in what you do?

As I’ve already mentioned, I want to be able to try out as many different roles in the industry as possible before I pick a career path that sometimes has presented its issues. It does mean that I often have to work 2, 3, or maybe even 4 jobs simultaneously so there’s always some balancing to be done between roles. I think if you know what you want to do and go down one specific route, it's a lot more manageable and if I knew exactly what I wanted to do, then maybe I would have just gone to that, and things might have been simpler for me. But I wanted to try writing, I wanted to try interviewing, I wanted to try radio, I wanted to try and do live stuff on camera, I wanted to try it all! It is doable, it just requires a lot of balancing and hard work and if you’re willing to do that then it’s worth it.

How has your job changed over the last few years?

Obviously, like a large number of people COVID has caused me to switch up what I was doing and how things were being done. It was a reminder that you can't get too comfortable in the kind of work that you're doing. I know that it was horrible for the industry and of course, I would rather it didn't happen. But in terms of my work, it kind of set me on this track of "well I can’t review live bands anymore so now what will I do?"

My first thought was "okay, I can’t do this as a face-to-face piece, so let me cover it as a journalist and as an interview piece". Secondly "how can I support the scene? How can I support people?" And third, "what can I do individually to keep myself sane?"

What made you want to work within the music industry?

I've been going to gigs and experiencing music through my parents ever since I was like 9 or 10 years old. It was them who introduced me to rock bands like: Biffy Clyro, Kings of Leon, and Foo Fighters and that is really where my passion for music started.

I went to Reading Festival in 2016 when Biffy headlined and was the greatest experience I could ever imagine. 1000’s of people all just collectively, embracing the culture and embracing live music was wonderful and nothing gives me that same feeling.

So, for me, that was it the decision to work with music was already made because it's what makes me happier than anything. I wanted to bring that joy to other people and make it as accessible as I can for as many people as I could.

"1000’s of people all just collectively, embracing culture and embracing live music was wonderful and nothing gives me that same feeling."

So how did you work your way into the music industry?

Never saying no! A lot of what I’ve done has come from me saying yes and figuring the rest out later!

When I started at uni I knew that I wanted to get involved in music and so I started looking around and one of the people I noticed was ‘Scruff of the Neck’ record label who, at the time, had just won the award for a fastest-growing independent label. When I found them and saw some of the things that they were doing I set myself the goal of getting a job with them.

All I knew was that I wanted to work for someone specific, I wanted to stay in Manchester, and I wanted to work within the music scene. That’s when I heard that you could go to gigs and review them for the student newspaper… what happened was that essentially in my first week of uni I went to the meeting for the paper, and I said I'll go review anyone! I just wanted to work I wanted to try it out and from that, I ended up reviewing Casey Lowry who was playing in front of maybe 25 people in Factory 251. From that moment and I wrote that first review, I fell in love with it and became determined to meet and be introduced to anyone I could.
I was willing to do anything within the industry to start creating a name for myself in Manchester. I started doing interviews, I would talk to bands and then they would pass me on to other bands and things kept snowballing from there.
When COVID hit, it was a nightmare, because at that time I was looking into the live stuff. But I had to adapt and because of that, I had a lot more time. It was then that I decided to take on the radio show because we were still kind of in lockdown. From the radio show I started to gain a lot more opportunities and I just never said no to anyone! People would offer me roles because they had seen something I've done before and I'd be like, yeah, brilliant. I'd figure out how I’d do it later!
Through the number of projects that I’ve taken on, I’ve built a name for myself and become someone that you can trust to figure out how to do something even if it’s something I haven’t done before.

If you were to give one piece of advice to somebody looking to start a career in the music industry, what advice would you give them?

I would say you've just got to believe in yourself a little bit. It doesn't have to be false confidence. It doesn't have to be blind confidence. But just give it a go. I mean, find someone local to you that started a new publication and get in contact with them or pitch an idea to someone if you think something is interesting that needs to be said, go for it! Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and work on it.

I was very nervous when I first started writing articles, thinking. I love music, it’s my main passion but I don't know if anyone wants to hear what I have to say. And now two years down the line, I'm the head editor for the music of the same publication I used to spend hours reading. If someone trusts you enough to ask you to do something, don't doubt yourself.

I think lots of people get imposter syndrome in these situations. But that’s not something to shy away from, it’s something to thrive off! I want to be an imposter in almost every situation because as I move up, I don't want to settle if that makes sense. At one point, I felt like I didn't belong in the room doing student journalism. At one point, I felt I didn't belong in the room doing radio. At one point, I didn't feel like I belonged in the room working for a record label. Now I feel confident and happy to say that I can nail any one of those things. When I’ve finished my degree, I aim to go and feel go work somewhere where I feel like I don't fit in at least for the first six months. Because I want to earn my stripes and I see fitting in as something to work towards it.

If you could describe your job in one word, what would it be?

If I could describe everything, I do in one word… heaven, I guess. Just joy, like a collective bliss. Mental but heaven. I love every bit of it.