Ryan Samuel Bentley

Music Technology

Kent is a great place to start making industry friends.

Why did you choose Kent?

It was important for me to find the right course, with a good balance of music/composition, technology and science. I was also intent on moving away from home, as much as I love my family. After searching the UCAS website, I found that Kent happened to have the right mix of criteria, ticking most boxes for me.

What attracted you to the course?

I liked the fact that I could sculpt my studies to suit my particular interests. I have a passion for composing cinematic music and, as the course progressed, I began to concentrate more on composition and chose modules on subjects that involved music and audio image. However, I also spent a lot of my spare time recording, editing and mixing, either at home or in the studio.

Being surrounded by creatives, musicians and technicians was one of the reasons I enjoyed the course so much - it gave me the opportunity to work with like-minded people in a mutually beneficial environment.

What about the teaching?

Kent is a research university, which means all the teaching staff are current in practising their trade. As a student, this is great because you know you are gaining the most up-to-date knowledge in your subject. Being taught by industry-specific lecturers also provides an invaluable insight into the music tech world and being part of the School of Music and Fine Art gives you the opportunity to share subjects and collaborate with students from other creative disciplines.

Did you get involved in any extra-curricular activities?

Yes, I got involved with a short film that was being recorded locally. By borrowing some equipment from the University over a weekend, I acted as the film's location sound guy and gained some useful industry knowledge. I also helped out a friend by composing original music for a short film he was creating as part of a university project. In addition, I provided support to teachers of music technology at local schools as part of my role as Student Ambassador for the University

How has your degree helped you find work?

Without the knowledge, experience and diversity of skills I gained at Kent, I would have really struggled to find work. My experience of managing the music side of the Fine Art end-of-year show also helped me to gain my first line of work after finishing my degree and countless other jobs. It showcased my creative, technical and teamworking skills as well as my ability to network and manage a large group of people, which really boosted my CV.

Could you describe your career path since leaving Kent?

I moved to London shortly after completing my degree. At that point, I had little professional studio experience and needed to find work fast. Luckily, I was able to get some short-term work through friends. I also secured a period of work experience with Miloco studios, where I became fully acquainted with the workings of a professional recording studio, including assisting on recording sessions with London Grammar. I also made some good friends and valuable contacts.I then landed a job as a college sessional Lecturer, teaching music technology, which I did for a year alongside studying for a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE). Keen to fully immerse myself in studio life again, I took the position of assistant (and eventually junior engineer) as the world-renowned Sarm Studios. It was a tough job, involving Iong hours. However, I  learned a lot and also had the opportunity to assist the legendary producer Trevor Horn and worke with so many cool artists, including Jake Bugg, Mika, Birdy, Lilly Allen and Seal. 

What are you doing now?

After a year of working at Sarm, I decided to go freelance. Recently, I was involved in a big project of recording Jake Bugg’s 3rd album, on which I have been credited as Production Assistant and Recording Engineer. Being associated with studios gives you steady work, but, as a freelancer,  you need to have a good relationship with a lot of A&R reps, artist and studio managers to keep the work coming in. There is no typical day and some months you are working every day, while others you have no work for weeks. At the moment, I am involved in bits and bobs until my next big project comes along.

What's next for you?

I’d like to find a more settled way of living, but I think I may have to wait to settle into the life of a freelancer instead. There is no regular paycheck, but I’ve never been in it for the money, only the music. I’m still and always will be a dreamer though, constantly aiming for the stars. My absolute dream would be to compose music for film one day. I would also like to go back to lecturing. My love for movie music is where it started and I always wanted to give back by teaching.

What was the highlight of your time at Kent? 

The people I met and the friends I made. Going to university feels like being thrown head first into uncharted waters. However you are not alone and you will find that you quickly make friends. I’m still living with a friend I made in my first year. Another highlight was experiencing an insider's view of the Historic Dockyard while creating a film with a fellow student, which I found particularly enriching.

What advice would you offer prospective students?

Nearly every job I’ve had has come from contacts I’ve made. Networking is a powerful thing and Kent is a great place to start making some industry friends. Show you’re willing, determined and able. If you don’t know how to do something, learn. Never turn down an opportunity. You have to aim high. Without my degree I would have struggled to be who I am today and get where I wanted to go. It’s about saying, grasping opportunities when they arrive and accepting challenges that lie ahead. Kent can give you these opportunities and challenges; it can help broaden your horizons, so embrace it!