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Tony Platt on what training accreditation body JAMES is doing for the next generation of audio pros

Daniel Gumble 7 September 2017
Tony Platt on what training accreditation body JAMES is doing for the next generation of audio pros

In a new regular feature for PSNEurope, every month we will be sitting down with leading figures across the industry who are playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of pro audio. Here, Daniel Gumble chats to JAMES events director Tony Platt to find out what the organisation is doing for the next generation of audio professionals…

Tell us about JAMES and how it was formed?
JAMES was originally formed by MPG and APRS to spearhead both organisations’ education initiative.

It has since broadened its reach and now includes as associate members AMPS (Association of Motion Picture Sound), PLASA, UK Screen Association, MIA (Music Industry Association), ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians) and Drama UK.

BASCA (British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors) and IASIG (Interactive Audio Special Interest Group) are endorsing members of the JAMES Accreditation Scheme.

What is its main objective?
The principal objective initially was to accredit courses at universities that focus on music and music technology. However as more industry bodies have joined us we have expanded the range of courses that we accredit.

Our specific remit is to act as the industry liaison with the education sector but we see ourselves very much as a support network for the courses and especially the students. We want to make sure that the courses match up to their prospectus and deliver on what they promise – naturally having first ascertained, via the accreditation process, that the courses in question are offering industry standard qualifications.

Tell us about any recent initiatives you have been working on?
Most recently we ran another of the JAMES/GDF (Gus Dudgeon Foundation) courses. This took place at Leeds Beckett University and was overseen by Ken Scott.

We are in the process of organising another version of this initiative featuring classical recording. During the course of the year I have organised a number of lecture/workshop series for some of the
accredited courses.

How crucial is it that the pro audio industry continues to ramp up its focus on the producers and engineers of tomorrow?
Quite frankly it is vital – there is no tangible help or support for this aspect of our industry coming from government and the traditional pathways of tea-boy, tape operator, engineer, producer is no longer viable.

It is also important because a direct result of the “democratisation” of music means the tools of the trade are readily accessible to anyone. Naturally this is exciting because it overcomes many of the obstacles that previously existed and provides opportunities that simply didn’t exist when I first started. However, it also means that the natural filters are no longer applied, which can result in a lowering of standards and loss of good practice. It is important that the skills are passed on, too – I’m a great believer that passing on skills and methods is essential, so upcoming engineers and producers can decide what they would prefer to take forward and, as a result, develop new approaches of their own.

Do you have any examples of how JAMES has helped boost people’s career progression?
When we go to conduct an accreditation, we spend a good deal of time talking to students. During one of these exchanges we asked whether the JAMES accreditation influenced their decision to take that particular course – a significant majority of the students told us that they chose that course over others because of the JAMES accreditation. We are in the process of establishing a database of graduates so they can pitch themselves to prospective employers.

How can people get involved with JAMES and make use of its educational offering?

For students it’s easy – just go to www.jamesonline.org.uk to access the advice and resources. Manufacturers, dealers and distributors can also become Friends of JAMES and support our initiative by visiting the website. Educational establishments wishing to accredit their courses should apply via the website.

We are always looking for more professionals to get involved in the running of JAMES – currently it is all done by a core of us on a voluntary basis – anyone interested should get in touch here.

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