Department of Music and Media

Careers in the Creative Industry

Taking Maths, Physics and Music at A Level opens up dozens of exciting graduate career opportunities.

You might have thought about working as a producer in a recording studio or being the director of a feature film but, with a sound understanding of science, engineering and technology as well as a creative art such as Music there are many more exciting options available to you in today’s thriving Creative Industries.

A career in…Music and recording

This is the classic career choice for audio experts, with so many opportunities to create your own niche while working in a recording studio.

Working in a studio might involve anything from repairing or installing equipment to writing string parts for a new track. You could become a music producer or studio engineer, working with recording artists to create and develop their sound. Top producers are really influential in the music industry, and are always in demand.

One area you might not have considered is audio restoration, remastering and re-editing. Record labels are always looking to re-release material from their back catalogue, but they need people who understand music and the science of audio engineering to make the old recordings sound fresh again.

Of course, as a talented musician with a scientific knowledge of audio technology, you could become an innovative composer and performer in your own right too!

Robin Baynton, Surrey Sound Recording alumni, Freelance Recording Engineer, Grammy Winner

"There are all sorts of roles within a studio team. My job is to coax the best performances out of artists like Coldplay or Mumford & Sons, as well as recording their music in the best way.

It's not just about making technically good recordings - I make musical judgements too. Combing technical knowledge with a creative background and solid grasp of music theory is invaluable. It makes me unusual in the studio business, which means I have lots of career options open to me."

A career in… Film and broadcasting

Whether it’s working for a production company or setting up your own freelance business there are many options to explore in the TV and film industry from transmission, broadcast and sound engineers, to edit assistants, executive producers and directors. One thing they all have in common is that a broad skill set and the knowledge of how to bring a creative vision to live through technology is critical.

From composing music and soundtracks, recording and mixing dialogue and sound effects, or being the person in charge of audio or visual requirements for a big production, you could be collaborating with musicians and film editors in the studio one day and flying off to exotic locations with movie stars the next.

Michael Price, Surrey Sound Recording alumni, Composer, Emmy award winner

"I'm a composer for film and TV productions like Sherlock and The Inbetweeners Movie, working in London and LA. I was previously a music editor on films including Lord of the Rings.

To be a screen composer you must be able to collaborate with people from a range of technical and creative disciplines. Knowledge of studio engineering helps too. You're not just writing music, you're in charge of a complicated music project (with a budget of up to $2m) that will be crucial to the success of a $100m production."

Neil Garner, Training provider for the professional broadcast industry, Surrey Music alumni

"I joined the BBC as a Recording Operator working in TV and went on to the BBC’s residential training college as a trainee and then a lecturer. I stayed for 17 years and in that time, as well as teaching a lot of the basic technical theory, I taught people about videotape, post production and editing. I also developed my studio skills and Vision Mixing knowledge and was able to develop the BBC’s flagship vision mixing course. In that role, I also found myself producing and directing programs for the trainees to mix and became an expert in music scripting. I now split my time between teaching engineering and running a small company that provides bespoke training to the broadcast and media industries, travelling widely around the world, occasionally getting to teach creative subjects too and combining this with the marketing and management of my own company – the perfect balance."

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A career in… Video games

Video games are big business, with thousands of new titles released each year and Guildford is a core gaming ‘hub’ of the UK.

As well as opportunities for developers, designers and producers each game needs an audio expert to work on the soundtrack, dialogue, sound effects and background music. As technology develops with virtual reality and augmented reality becoming more popular, the needs for a strong creative and powerful storytelling means those with an understanding of the artistic vision as well as the technological deliver modes will be at an advantage.

Chris Green, Surrey Sound Recording alumni, Composer / Creative Director

"I'm the Creative Director at Blurred Edge, an audio/music production company that I founded. We work with people who make computer games, as well as the advertising industry.

Audio quality on computer games is as good as the soundtracks for Hollywood films. Games have to sound great, so there's a commitment to the best production values. We help other companies to compose top-quality music and audio branding, so I need to understand a range of technical, commercial and creative issues relating to studio space, equipment and performers - including full orchestras."

A career in… Live events

Music tourism in the UK is big business. From small gigs to stadium concerts, from regional theatres to the West End, from conferences to national events, every live performance needs a technical expert.

You could work in-house at a venue, getting to know its own acoustic characteristics and helping visiting theatrical productions to make the most of them. You could join the backstage team for rock tours, helping to arrange audio requirements or travelling with the band to mix their live performances. You could even become a consultant brought in to design sound systems for large one-off events, concerts or festivals.

Ian Stickland, Surrey Sound Recording alumni, Sound Designer and Consultant

"I spend a lot of time looking at ways to put sound systems into new buildings, so I'll work on where different bits of equipment should go, what fittings to use, where cables should be routed, and so on. I need to put all that information into a technical plan that the people actually doing the building, construction and installation can use.

But I also work in interactive theatre, where I'll sit down with a writer or director to decide how we're going to use sound to tell a story. I may have to source music, or record sounds, and work out the technical and creative aspects of how we're going to use them. We may even build props that have sound coming out of them."

A career in… Audio research

You might want to become an academic who pushes the boundaries of what we know about audio and technology, you could join a company as an in-house researcher to help them improve their products or you could become a journalist writing about the latest developments in audio research.

Audio expertise is also highly valued in sectors such as medicine, forensics, electronics and leisure.

Andy Thompson, Surrey Sound Recording alumni, Acoustic Consultant

"We act as advisers to architects and builders, helping them to achieve certain sound-related benefits, such as noise reduction or particular acoustic solutions. We specialise in performing arts spaces, so I've worked on projects including schools, concert halls and theatres.

As an acoustics specialist you can work in whatever area interests you most. For example, if you're interested in engineering then you could work in industrial noise control, or if you're into music you could design recording studios or arts spaces. Having a music background gives you flexibility that keeps your choices open."