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Tom Haughton is proof that if you want to work in music, you have to love it and make every effort to try and make it happen. After a dysfunctional relationship with school and a journey which took him to some of the top live music venues in London, Tom came to ACM to study and complete the Tour Management & Production Course in 2012/2013 and pursue a career in live music.
Tell us a bit about your background
After being removed from school at the age of 17, I met with a family friend who works at CAA in Hammersmith London. We spoke about my aspirations to be a music producer and my goal to own and run a high end studio. She asked whether I had any experience with live sound and recommended that I gain some by working in live music venues and studios.
I travelled to London to follow up on a letter I had written to over 200 studios, some of whom took me in for a week to see how everything worked. Although I enjoyed the experience, there was something about live sound that captivated me – the feeling that every single night is going to be a new challenge. For example as an in-house engineer working with new artists or as a touring engineer having to overcome different obstacles each night working in different venues.
After a few months of experience I managed to secure my first paid gig with a little acoustic act in Camden, which went terribly! But instead of putting me off, I kept plugging at it and managed to get work in venues around London with a variety of bands. It was one of these bands that took me under their wing and entrusted me to do the sound for their band. This gave me the confidence to keep doing what I was doing because if the band’s lead guitarist – and my sound engineer mentor – trusted me with this then I must be capable because he wouldn’t have asked me otherwise. Then in December 2011, I managed to get my first gig doing in-house sound at the Star in Guildford. Over the last year I have learnt so much through this regular work and it’s given me the confidence to solve problems without hesitation.
What motivated you to come and study at ACM?
My school year was very creative and a lot of the musicians from older years had gone to ACM. People in my class always spoke about ACM and how it was this great place to become a rockstar, a producer or session musician and that you could get a record deal in your first week. I was in awe of these stories.
I applied to study a music production higher diploma straight after being removed from school and ACM gave me a conditional place based on me achieving a Music Tech A-Level pass, but as I wasn’t at school to complete the course, I spoke directly to Ant Greaves who ensured I received an unconditional place. It really boosted my confidence to know that I had gotten into ACM especially as I knew so many people who had spoken about wanting to go!
What’s been the best part about studying at ACM?
The tutors! You learn so much about the industry first hand from people who have actually been there and done it! Last year I used to love Chad Jackson’s Cultural Studies classes because learning from someone with such passion and enthusiasm for the industry was so inspirational!
At ACM you get the opportunity to sell yourself and network to people who know what this industry is about and if you get that seal of approval to say you have something unique or that you have a chance to make it big, then you know you’re doing well. The main thing about ACM is that what you put in you get back; you have to work hard to get the rewards from the course and I made sure that if I missed a lecture I would get a tutorial and catch up.
Tell us about who you’ve been working with?
I have worked with a lot of up and coming musicians, but for me it’s not about who I’ve worked with it’s about having the drive to keep pushing for better so I can show people what I can do.
For me it’s not just about the job in hand, it’s also about having a hard working attitude and the drive to constantly strive for more!
So what’s on the horizon for 2013?
I have some killer tours in the pipeline that I am very much looking forward to. There are a few opportunities to work with some outstanding individuals, but only I can make these happen so I have to put myself out there and work hard!
Do you have any advice or tips for our current ACM students?
Don’t complain that ACM hasn’t given you a record deal with EMI yet or why you’re not touring the world – work hard and put those extra hours in and network. If people remember you, they contact you to do that gig or tour that leads to you doing what you dreamed of doing in the first place!
Also, take advantage of the tutorials – they are a godsend. Being able to talk to people and get a second opinion on something is great and it could be the difference between a killer deal or no deal!
ACM would like to thank Tom Haughton for taking the time to tell his story and we wish him well for his forthcoming projects.