Open Artist Session with Hal Ritson

Music producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer Hal Ritson shared his experience with FAC members at the last Open Artist Session on June 28th at Tileyard. With his electronic music project, The Young Punx, Hal has collaborated with artists such as Massive Attack, Amanda Palmer and Dizzee Rascal, has achieved UK club chart top 10 positions, airplay on BBC Radio 1, signed a deal with EMI and toured the Festival circuit extensively, incl. Glastonbury. In 2007 The Young Punx’ track “You’ve got to…” became the most podcasted track in the world, as well as featuring as one of the songs on FIFA 07. Ritson is also owner of MofoHifi Records and a board director of the Featured Artists Coalition. Above all, Hal Ritson is a true innovator and has a wealth of broad experience he shared with the FAC’s membership.  

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What we learned at our last OAS with Hal Ritson: The importance of being on time, spreading risk and believing in your vision.

“Making it is just the start of your problems, how to sustain career for 10 – 20 years is what it’s really about”

Hal Ritson, FAC Board Director and creator of The Young Punx, shared his experience with a lucky group of FAC members on a rainy Tuesday evening. Hal is a songwriter, music producer & director and, above all, a true innovator. On top of gaining a wealth of experience with his own musical project, he has worked with artists such as Amanda Palmer, Dizzee Rascal and Katy Perry.

During his talk, he stressed the importance of collaboration (“it’s the only way to learn new things and improve your skills”), of being professional at all times and of knowing yourself as an artist, a person, and a business.

No single career path in music is the same, but Hal’s seems to be especially unique. He only took the plunge into full time music making at the age of 32. By this time he had already gained experience in business, skills that were transferable and infinitely useful in his music career, i.e. accounting, marketing and strategy. When asked how he landed the role of musical MD for Dizzee Rascal, he explained: “People simply new I was reliable and would get the job done”. Hal mentioned that punctuality and an air of professionalism is something he values greatly when employing musicians himself. Being a reliable, polite mediocre musician may get you a lot further than being a great musician with a lack of social skills and responsibility.

Our Open Artist Sessions are always packed with nuggets of wisdom, but few have given such practical advice as Hal on how to create a sustainable career in music: “You’ve got to have your own, strong vision of who you are as an artist and be faithful to that. Not everyone is going to like what you do, but don’t let that put you off!”

“Your career should be driven by who you are as an artist, i.e. what makes you happy, but you should also explore all other skills you have that might be adjacent to your main project… maybe being a session musician, or writing library music. This is calculated risk spreading: After a while you will be able to asses what, out of all the things you do, makes you happy, what makes you money, what works and what doesn’t”

Hal, who has toured Japan extensively with the Young Punx, also stressed the importance of exploring other markets: “The world is big! Just because three A&R guys in London say no to you doesn’t mean that you can’t nurture a dedicated fan base on an international level”.

Hal, thank you so much for your time and for sharing your expertise with the FAC membership, it may have been a small group gathered in the Gallery of Tileyard studios, but we all left feeling like the luckiest FAC members. Here’s to the next Open Artist Session. Thank you!