Adam’s Story

Penrith, Cumbria

Degree course studied and college/university/employer:

Popular Music and Music Technology at the University of Derby.  Now Founder and Director at Airaphon Ltd.

Why did you decide on this subject?

Music and sound has consumed me since I was at primary school, so my future could only head one way.

Why did you decide on this university?

Derby Uni offered a wide and varied curriculum, some which extended and challenged my current knowledge, and others which I had no idea about, but knew would be incredibly useful to develop a career in music and sound.

What did you want to be as a child?

When I was small, I don’t think I ever had anything specific in mind, until music came along and I wanted to be a drummer in a band.  Attitudes shifted when GCSE’s loomed, and at that point my focus shifted towards becoming a Solicitor or a Lawyer, which dictated my A Level choices.  Half-way through A Levels, they shifted back to what I loved the most, and at that point it was full steam ahead to study music and sound engineering.

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns? What were they?

Yep – there have been a few!  Here goes:

A lucky break outside the Methodist church in Penrith where I met a production team from Radio Cumbria, driving a white van around London for a recording company and consequently getting a job as a tea boy for their beautiful recording studio, coming back to Cumbria to start a junior job at BBC Radio Cumbria, progressing to a junior role at Radio 1, leaving after 18yrs as Senior Technical Producer to become Managing Director of a well respected independent audio post production companies, then Covid striking which gave me an opportunity to set up my own audio post production company, which is where I am now.

Why did you decide to study for a degree?

Because on reflection, I didn’t fancy wearing a suit all day.  I loved sound, I. loved working with people who created things and I couldn’t think of another industry which would make me as happy as the audio industry does.

What did you study at sixth form? Why?

History, English Lit, Government and Politics and General Studies. They were the prerequisite subjects for studying Law.

How did you decide what to do after school?

I followed my heart.

Did anyone help you to decide?

Many people who I trusted; teachers, friends, family, band members, and the little voice in my head.

What support did you get?

Guidance from my school, especially on prep for interview questions, bearing in mind my A Levels had nothing to do with music and sound.

What’s the best thing about studying with your university? What’s the best thing about your course?

The range of subjects covered in the course curriculum, access to worlds, stories, musical genres and technology I knew nothing about previously, and the insight it gave me into the world I was about to launch myself into.

Did you find anything difficult about applying for and/or starting a degree? How did you get around this?

Completely reinventing my future was tough.  I had to convince others that what I’d previously studied wasn’t where my heart was, and desperately needed to prove that through the extra-curricular work I’d done over my time at school, I had the necessary skills and knowledge to cope with studying at Uni level. But highlighting transferable skills, assigning them to what the course required, proving through my A Levels that I had the capacity to be chameleon-like when it came to learning, demonstrating a passion and believing that no other option existed other than to get on that course were my key drivers in making sure the Uni had no other option but to admit me.

Were there any key turning points in your journey into a degree, e.g. events or conversations?

Realising that for me, money wasn’t everything, but that taking an active decision to focus on making a career out of what I really loved doing, having to resolutely believe that I was doing was the right thing when others questioned my approach, remembering why I’d made the choices I did, believing in them when things got tough and believing in ‘future me’ were crucial.

What are you looking forward to the most about university/finishing university?

At the time it was working in recording studios.  That was it.  One focus, job done.

Any tips for anyone choosing to study your course?

Experiment, play, fail, learn from failure and understand that failure is important if you’re to understand and grow.  Practice, practice practice. Don’t take no for an answer, believe that you have what it takes to get you to where you want to be, and that it might take time for you to figure things out, but that you’ll get there in the end.

What advice would you give to someone from your area?

Cumbria has more to offer than you think.  Bring the world to you – it’s easy now.  Ask questions, be inquisitive, be kind (people always remember the kind ones) and when your time comes, know your stuff and BE READY, because if you’re not, someone else will be.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

Next to some speakers or up a mountain, but not at the same time.