29 Jan 2020

5 ACM Alumni Success Stories

It’s really hard to make it in the music industry. That’s a fact. At some point, everyone’s dreamed of being a rockstar – walking on stage to thousands of fans and breathing in the adulation. But for some it’s just a pipe dream as a child, something to muse on when their favourite band brings out a new track.

For others, however, it’s a different story. For those who live and breathe music, the ones who spent their teenage years squirrelled away in their rooms writing lyrics or practicing chords, it can be a reality. The thing is, it doesn’t only matter ‘what you know’. There is a large element of ‘who you know’ in gaining success in any industry, and music is no different. Legacies aren’t uncommon, and even friends of friends are more likely to get a callback than complete strangers.

Maybe you’re the most talented musician you know, but you just don’t have the links, or perhaps you know everyone, but you think your playing could do with some improvement. ACM is here to help with the whole package – its tailored courses that work in conjunction with its ‘learning by doing’ ethos and renowned alumni network, have helped countless musicians find the success they’ve always dreamed of.

Here are just a few…

1. Newton Faulkner 

Newton Faulkner is a perfect example of how the ACM model works. Graduating in 2004 after studying for both the diploma and higher diploma in guitar, he found success as a solo performer. He has sold millions of units over the course of his seven albums, including four top 10s, two of which peaked at number one, and he continues to tour regularly.

But he is also an extremely active alumnus. ACM prides itself on its extensive alumni network; each of the students that passes through the Academy’s hallways has their own unique talents, and many are willing and able to help new students as much as they can. Faulkner has himself returned to give lectures and masterclasses on multiple occasions, passing on knowledge that can only be acquired from a career performing at the highest levels of the music industry.

2. Zomboy

With a surname like Mellody, there really was no other industry that Josh, stage name Zomboy, would ever really have entered. He joined ACM as a Music Production student, and it was while studying that he discovered the Electronic music scene, which set him down the successful career path he has since followed.

A recipient of the Best Producer award at the Bass Music Awards, Zomboy has toured the world, released an EP or album almost every year since 2011, as well as a host of singles and has remixed artists from Rihanna to The Chainsmokers.

3. Matt Healy

Graduating from the Vocals course in 2008, Matt Healy has gone on to find incredible success with his band The 1975. Since their breakout eponymous album in 2013, which spawned their first number one single Robbers, they have been nominated for a slew of awards, including multiple Grammys and Mercurys, and won three BRIT awards. In fact, their total list of awards is so extensive, it’s won its own Wikipedia page.

Outside the band, Healy has increasingly used his personal fame to further social progression. He has been praised for his stance on LGBTQ+ issues, continually highlighting the need for equality, not just in music, but across the board. This year he also released a track with famed environmental activist Greta Thunberg, promising to donate all proceeds to Extinction Rebellion. And his band has since committed to ‘phase out all single use plastic, such as plastic CD cases or plastic wrap on vinyl records’.

4. Kirsten Joy 

For Kirsten, who grew up performing in school plays and local talent shows before joining ACM to study Music Performance, music has always been her life. So when success came knocking, it was never so much a case of ‘if’ it would happen as it was ‘when’.

Her first taste of fame came as a member of the 2008 ACM Gospel Choir, who competed in the BBC show Last Choir Standing, and she once again graced our screens as a contestant on The Voice.

There are few session musicians as in-demand as Kirsten. She has toured around the world with artists including Gary Barlow, Seal and Gabrielle Aplin, and is arguably most well-known as Clean Bandit’s touring vocalist. Even just a brief glance at her discography shows that she’s recorded for some of the world’s favourite musicians, Paloma Faith, Kylie and Mike Oldfield, to name just a few.

An active member of the alumni network at ACM, just last summer Kirsten returned to give a masterclass and share some of the invaluable knowledge she has learned throughout her career.

5. Ted Dwane

Divisive as they may be among the public, there is no denying that Mumford & Sons are one of the most successful bands of the last decade. Unsurprisingly, they also feature an ACM alumnus – Ted Dwane.

Ted graduated from the Bass Route at ACM and started his career as a session musician. Along with future Mumford & Sons bandmates Marcus Mumford and Winston Marshall, Ted played as part of Laura Marling’s band, and was briefly a member of the art-rock group Moulettes.

As a member of Mumford & Sons, he has gone on to win BRIT and Grammy awards, and headlined the infamous Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury. There are few ACM alums who have achieved more, but doubtless he won’t be the last.

Do What You Love

ACM’s purpose is to guide students into the careers they dream of. Of course, a university education can only take you so far, with thousands vying for the very same life, you have to harbour a real passion for music to break in. With unique courses taught by industry professionals; the Industry Link team and their limitless connections and all the benefits afforded to a music academy with a peerless alumni network, students get the best head-start going.


If you dream of achieving success in the creative industries, come along to one of our Open Days. We can’t wait to see what our alumni do next – and we’d love to welcome you into the ACM community.

Open Days

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