I've been working voluntarily as a mountain bike racing team manager since the early 90's, Development Racing, it's something I thoroughly enjoy, it's challenging, emotive, rewarding and I still hold great enthusiasm for it. During the later 90's, I managed to score one of my team riders at the time a small frame and forks sponsorship with an American so-called boutique brand. I knew their UK distributor at the time was struggling so set about putting a business plan together with the help of the local Business Link, which took me quite some time as I had never done anything like that before. The end result was a pretty much water tight plan. So, faxed it over to the American manufacturer, ......who in turn faxed it to their then UK distributor and they saw their UK sales take off using my ideas. That was very nice of them wasn't it..... it was sheer naivety on my part, but, what can you do?!
So onwards I trundled..... moved down to London in 2006 and have been trying to get myself into the broadcast music industry. I have worked on my own programme synopsis to open popular music up further to the deaf and hard of hearing. Thus I have been busy plugging away to various sections of the industry, the production teams, the channels et al. On receiving a reply from the UK's (possibly global?) leading music channel in regards to a meeting with two of their senior executives I jumped at it. It was suddenly all very exciting. So I arrived all eager, was introduced to the execs and had a rather interesting meeting. I gave my 'sales piece' at it were and no sooner had I mentioned the eternal catchphrase ....'...to increase target audience access to music...'... they went off on one giving me various percentages being met and further targets for the coming year in regards to each of their channels' subtitling output. Completely and utterly missing my point! I tried three or four times to get the conversation back on track to no avail I was being drowned out by the numbers and percentages being thrown at me, so admitted defeat and left them to it. Interestingly though, they have no deaf staff from what I am aware of!
Moving on, a further opportunity arose for me to meet the senior exec of a production company that produce music shows for a mainstream TV channel. The meeting was fantastic, it really was, he took what I was saying on board, we had an in depth chat and threw ideas around. Now this meeting was on a Tuesday lunchtime, their main music TV show was being broadcast that Friday night, recorded that same Tuesday evening. Lo and behold he had changed his production company's programme format using my ideas, needless to say he didn't do a good job of it mind but...... oh bloody hell!
And on I trundled......
I applied for a broadcast music based role with a mainstream TV channel. The application was successful and I was in the final 10 out of some 4,000 applicants, this was, to me, a feather in my cap as I was the only disabled person there. I fought a good fight as it were and although not selected for the job made some good contacts. I was later invited back to a disability and ethnic networking evening with the channel. The level of support they gave me at the start with access to what was being said in the auditorium was absolutely brilliant. However with the actual networking and drinks afterwards it was much more difficult. It was held in a dark on site bar which made lip-reading very very difficult, I couldn't wear my implant as there was loud music being pumped out and a lot of background noise. Although I wanted to speak to so many people there I couldn't, it was too difficult and rather than make a fool of myself by not being able to communicate properly I left the event feeling very down heartened.
Decided to have another bash at importing American bicycle frames to the UK, met with the Business Link people again about how to do it. The guy there didn't really speak to me, merely gave me internet links to look at and read and told me to set up a business bank account. Absolutely fucking pointless! I wanted to know face to face what I do about tax payments, import duties, how and when it's paid - they didn't offer any help. Needless to say this didn't get off the ground, I'm still in the process of trying to close the business bank account (yes, the bank really are that incompetent), and still paying national insurance contributions on a business that no longer exists - damnit!
I'll now skip to the fore.... most recently after a discussion via email, I was able to meet with another exec, this time from a big international music label. I thought the meeting went OK, it wasn't great as was in a coffee shop near his building with background noise playing havoc with my cochlear implant, my lip-reading wasn't too good of which I apologised for and on top of that I was very nervous as was so hoping that it would lead somewhere. I learned how the company worked, the filtering down between the various in-house labels per genre of music. It was concluded that the guy would speak to the company's HR and arrange a meeting with them for me to discuss things further. And that was the last I heard from them, despite me chasing up by email a few times.....
I laugh to myself at times. Just one little opportunity is all I ask for, one little crack in the door that will allow me to get my first foot on the ladder. Admittedly a lot of able-hearing people, from my own experience, find a deaf person who is so into music a little too quirky to comprehend, this barrier needs and must be broken down.
As a deaf person in a hearing world I feel the best way forwards is to go self employed, but this in itself throws up even more problems. Disabled people NEED support in order to do this and from what I have seen so far it's very scarce, or where it is available, it's substandard. So sick and tired of dealing with people who are all mouth and no trousers that seem so prevalent in this day and age.
Just keeping your determination and your self-worth, keeping on fighting...... after such a time you get sick of fighting though, casting your pearls before swine, and wish that some people out there would just give you a decent break.
I'll step off my soap-box now!