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On Wednesday 1st March, students at ACM Guildford were treated to a masterclass with playlisting expert and all-round music enthusiast, Elise Cobain.

The session included all the ins and outs of the streaming world, and showed an optimistic future for the music industry, with Elise revealing that of the 150 million people who use streaming services, 48% of them pay for them.

Elise Cobain ACM MasterclassIntroduced by ACM’s Music Business Pathway Leader, Steve McCarthy, Elise kicked off the insightful masterclass with a brief introduction about her career to date. Revealing that she had initially studied for a degree in Meteorology and had wanted to become a storm chaser, Elise soon turned to the creative industries, starting at ITV in the commercial and sales department helping to programme the advertisement breaks. At the age of 22 she discovered the Roundhouse in Camden, and went on to run their community youth radio station at the same time that artists such as Charli XCX were using the famous venue’s recording studios. Discovering a love of radio, Elise moved on to work at Global with XFM and then with Radio 1 and Radio 1 Xtra, where she was proud to support rising artists such as Little Simz, by taking her to South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas. Now the Global Curator for Sony company Filtr, Elise spends her days wearing headphones in her dream job – creating playlists for streaming services on a global scale.

When speaking to students about how she arrived at her current role, Elise stressed that it doesn’t happen overnight, and it has taken her 12 years to get to her current position. Her best advice was to get involved in the music industry and for students to start creating their own playlists on Spotify.

During the session, the students were incredibly engaged and asked many questions. One student asked Elise how established an act has to be before they’re considered for playlisting and Elise replied that BBC Introducing is a great place to start for this. She urged students to be aware of where playlisters look for music, which can include tastemaker blogs and social media.

Another student asked how she creates playlists and wanted to know how she differentiates between music which will work as part of a playlist, and music that she just likes to listen to. Elise told the room that depending on the length of the playlist, she would always include a solid first few tracks of well-known songs, and after that is a good place to add a new artist. She mentioned that creating playlists is an incredibly intricate process – you have to consider what will work together, even when on shuffle; what search terms are used; and people’s regular spelling mistakes. She also spoke about how it’s a very fun and rewarding job, and told students that they’re in a great position to be learning about this relatively new concept now whilst they’re still studying.

The students left the masterclass having learned a lot and feeling very optimistic about the future of the music industry. Elise came away from the session feeling positive too:

“My first impressions of ACM are: very nice building, which does help. The fact that you’ve come here and asked me to touch on a subject that isn’t yet in textbooks and isn’t written about in the academic world is a great step.”
Elise Cobain

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Elise Cobain for taking the time out of her busy schedule to join us for this masterclass session! It really was a fantastic day.

If you’d like to study music at ACM and learn first-hand from industry practitioners like Elise, please call our Admissions Team on 01483 500 841 or visit to book a place on an ACM Open Day today.

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