Hello! I’m Alex (she/her). I'm a 23 year old Welsh language learner and I’m from a small place in the South Wales Valleys known as Pontllanfraith. I work as a freelancer in the Welsh Music Industry. Some of my roles include working for Beacons as a Junior Project Officer, mainly leading two projects: Crwth and Flourish (more about these projects later). I also work for Forté Project - an Artist Development programme that works with 10 acts each cycle to develop their musical careers through workshops, industry advice, creative projects and wellbeing support. Alongside these roles, I work at Porter’s Cardiff - an independent music venue and theatre. At Porter’s, I promote the original live music nights under the name “Porter’s Presents''. Unfortunately, it’s being smashed into smithereens soon, feel free to donate towards the cause here. The plan is for the venue to move to a new space in Cardiff, close to the original location - which is exciting if we can make it happen! Let’s get into my Beacons story…
I started volunteering for Beacons in late 2019 in the research phases, before the project materialised. I was approached by the team because they saw a blog I used to run whilst in uni studying BA Music Business at USW. It was called Under the Moon and I did it alongside Dali Mia Poulsom - a very talented Welsh music photographer. I then took part in focus groups with Beacons, designing the first edition of Summit - an online music industry conference. After the research and focus groups came to an end, I applied for one of the Junior Officer positions and was given the opportunity to become one and to lead projects of my own. My projects needed to align with Beacons’ agenda - the vision is to provide all young people across Wales with access to the industry knowledge, opportunities, networks and skills necessary to carve sustainable careers and new business models in the Welsh music industry. After some thought and research, I came up with the ideas of Crwth and Flourish.
Flourish is a wellbeing podcast for people who work in the Music Industry. Initially, when designing the podcast pilot, I read a number of articles and blog posts from musicians and industry professionals that explained their lifestyle as a result of their participation in the industry. I also asked a number of musicians I knew personally and compared it with the articles I read. This resulted in a four-part pilot series with the following topics: Being Burnt Out and Getting Out of a Rut, Anxiety and Depression, The Effects of Drug Use and Self Esteem and Confidence. I recorded the series alongside Gwen Goddard, a mental health and wellbeing practitioner that has worked with organisations such as Mental Health First Aid Wales and Local Mind Association. At this year’s Summit conference and festival, Flourish was launched with a panel discussion featuring Gwen, Ella Pearson and Kiddus. The first episode of the podcast can be listened to on Spotify through the link. It is also available on Soundcloud too.
Crwth is a bilingual music industry magazine, available online and in miniature form as a physical zine. The online version is full length, whilst the zine is a very condensed version that shows snippets and quotes from the online version. Essentially, the online version is the main meal and the zine is a buttered bread roll…
Crwth contains music industry advice in the form of “diary” style articles from existing industry professionals. As well as articles, the magazine features modern Welsh poetry, artwork, and photography. There’s also a sprinkle of Welsh myths and legends in the mix too, for good Welsh measure. There were a few reasons as to why I wanted to make a music industry magazine with a modern artistic and poetic twist, although the main one was that there isn’t much else like it out there at the moment. After speaking with Glyn, a friend, colleague and Welsh Language musician, he talked about the lack of Welsh language media available for young people in Wales. It made me think about how the style of the magazine could be an informal and visually appealing way of teaching each other how to get into the various jobs in the music industry. It has also created another platform for us to all share stories and promote the great things happening in modern Welsh music and youth culture. The full magazine can be read on the Beacons Cymru website at beacons.cymru/crwth. The physical zine can be ordered for free by messaging us directly through our social media channels or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to various reasons such as time constraints and the chaos of being new to creating a magazine, I approached the various contributors personally, as well as approaching the networks I was involved with - including Anthem. Anthem is a funding body for the Welsh Music Industry, They have a Youth Forum that I used to be involved in, filled with up and coming Welsh industry folk. Check out their website and what they do here. I also approached various Labels and organisations - read the magazine to find out who. Looking back, I wish I had announced a ‘Call Out’ for people to pitch their articles and ideas to me. Going forward with the next two issues, I’ll be looking for contributors that I don’t solely approach myself. This is to avoid it being an Alex’s Friend Party. I want the truest reflection and representation of the music industry in Wales. If you have something to say about the Welsh Industry, you have wisdom to share about your role, or you want to include a poem, piece of artwork, music photography or Welsh Myths and Legends content - please pitch your ideas to email@example.com - I’d love to hear from you. You don’t need experience in writing for a magazine previously and you’ll be paid for your time if your pitch is chosen.
I created the design for the online magazine and Simon Parton designed the physical zine. I used Affinity Publisher to design it. It was on sale when I bought it but I think you can get the programme for roughly £50. It’s the bootleg version of Adobe Illustrator and works just as well! It was my first time using it and truthfully the first time I properly dipped my toes into graphic design. Feel free to ignore the ‘Year Six School Disco’ colour scheme and design of the magazine. If you’re a budding graphic designer and fancy working on the project, send examples of your work to: firstname.lastname@example.org. This is a paid work opportunity.
I learned a considerable amount from making Crwth and I’m excited to have another go with Issues 2 & 3. It gave me the opportunity to project manage, be creative and materialise an idea that will hopefully benefit the wider industry. I worked alongside skilled industry personnel, poets, artists, musicians and photographers. As you’ll probably notice, I made the first issue long enough to be a five part novel, which is why the next issues will be shorter.