JAMES | Graduate Success Joseph Heaton


Joseph studied at the University of Central Lancashire and now works at AMS Neve as a Product Specialist working on their Genesys Consoles and outboard units.

What course did you study at UCLAN and what were the factors that made you choose that one in particular?
I studied Music Production at UCLAN after searching online for audio related courses. I decided to study at UCLAN over the other choices because the course had a wide range of potential career paths, rather than focusing on one specific aspect of the music industry, it offered a wide range of composition, production and recording technical skills.

Prior to university, did you have any experience in audio/music?
I have been involved in music my whole life, from starting my first band at age 10. I spent some years touring with my band ‘Aliases’ around Europe and had been working in live sound as an audio engineer and systems technician at gigs all around the UK.
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When you started the degree course, did you have a firm idea of what sector of the audio industry you wanted to work in? And did that change as the course progressed and as new possibilities were presented?
I originally wanted to begin work in the video game/TV/Film composition field and wanted to improve my composition skills, which the course helped with, hugely. In first year, I was invited along to two trips by the Global Sound Movement, a non-for-profit organisation run by the course leader Phil Holmes. The GSM travels to remote communities around the world to record unique tribal instruments and create sample packs which can then be sold online, with all profits returning to the tribal communities. I travelled to China and to Gibraltar in summer 2017 to record these instruments and saw how many varied career opportunities there were within the audio world.

Before graduation, I'm sure you were aware that there could be a distinct possibility of working as a freelancer. How did you prepare for this?
I had been used to working on a freelance basis during my audio career so was well prepared to continue working on a freelance basis. For myself however, the aim was to gain full time employment which can be a difficult task in the audio industry.

Throughout your course did you become involved in any external audio/music activities that weren't initiated by the university?
I continued my live sound work throughout my university course on a part-time basis and made use of the university facilities by recording bands in the studios in my spare time. In fact, one of the reasons I was chosen for my new career at AMS Neve was because I had a lot of experience using the Genesys Black console as I spent my free time working on my own projects in UCLAN Studio 2.

Attitude, in life is important. Any tips on how to survive a three year degree course and into the subsequent years?
Ask questions, get to know your tutors, peers and university staff. Being personable is key to life in the music business and starting with a good attitude at university will help you on the right track.

Any general advice that you would offer to a prospective student or one that has just begun a degree?
Be prepared to give up your free time to get your career off the ground. The music business operates in notoriously unsociable hours so getting used to this during your formative years will help somewhat. Take every opportunity offered to you, if someone requires a recording for some obscure project and they need it completing at an inconvenient time, or if you’re offered the chance to mix live sound for a festival but you were planning a holiday that day, take the work and reschedule the holiday. Every opportunity has untold value as it can lead to so much more down the line.

Any advice or tips you could offer those currently looking for employment?
Remain positive even when a career path isn’t obvious, take every opportunity offered, even if it doesn’t seem like what you’re looking for career-wise or doesn’t even pay anything. The doors that open for you when you make yourself available to opportunity can only be opened by saying YES!

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