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"You can chase academic success whilst also having a creative career or business"

Paddy Munyui studied BSc Business whilst also running his own music management company. From Brit Award nominations to recommitting himself to higher education, this is his story.

The start of something big 

I started my music management company, RP Entertainment (RP Ents) in November 2017, at a time when I had already applied and been accepted to study Law at a different university. I had no idea at the time of starting RP Ents how fast things would escalate. Before we knew it, one of my artists, Ramz, had a song that was number two in the official UK singles chart, and been nominated for a prestigious Brit award. What I’d started was bigger than I imagined it could be, so I took a year out of studying to focus on RP Ents and looking after my artists.  

Recommitting to education 

By the time my year out was up, I decided that I wanted to study something different that would complement what I was doing with RP Ents. I wanted to bring knowledge and theory to the day-to-day practicalities of what we were doing when running the company, and wanted a better understanding of the big picture – so I decided to study BSc Business at Birkbeck. I liked the fact that Birkbeck allowed me keep my days free to attend meetings and planning sessions with music industry people and my artists. It was a bit scary starting university all over again, and in a very different setting to before, but I said to myself: I’ve already started something new and put myself out there, I can do it again. 

Determination and gratitude 

I must admit, it was a really challenging first year, in terms of time management. My work with RPE was not only still escalating, it was also taking me all over the world. Trying to balance that alongside my studies was intense. But it was worth it, because completing my degree, I think, was bigger than just me. I’m the first person from my household to go to university, and the importance of that isn’t lost on me. My parents came to this country from Kenya and sacrificed a lot for me to have the privilege of getting a higher education. To know that I could use that opportunity to study something that could help me develop my passions outside academia was extra special. 

Unexpected benefits 

It wasn't just the curriculum that helped me either. In the music industry, I was often walking into meetings with executives who were twenty or thirty years my senior. It was easy to feel intimidated and like I didn’t know enough about the world in those situations. The more I got to know my classmates at Birkbeck – who come from a whole array of different industries, cultures and generations – the more I learnt from them and their outlooks on the world. My confidence grew. When my artists started getting booked for appearances on mainstream media outlets like ITV and Sky 1 (Soccer AM) alongside touring the world for shows in Japan, India and the UAE, it felt like it all came together. My parents, who had previously been unsure about the path I’d chosen, could see that it was actually possible for me to have a career in the music industry and be dedicated to my studies.  

Spreading the word 

Now, RP Ents is planning to expand our remit by doing talks and workshops in schools. We want to talk to young people about the business of music and show them that aspiring to be the artist at the front and centre, isn’t the only way to be involved. We want to show that it’s possible to work in the creative industries and also have an academic grounding and background. It feels important to do, because so many people from my background don’t know about the opportunities available in the creative industries outside of stardom. So many people see it as either you work in regular, corporate jobs, or you work in entertainment, not both. I like the idea of letting the next generation know that they can come into this industry without having to give up their education to do so. I didn’t, so why should they? 

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