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Music alumnus turns his passion for music into a career

25 June 2020
How a Con graduate became a Senior Director at an LA record label
Composition alumnus Mitchell Huckstepp tells us about the pressures and rewards of his role, and how his degree in music set him up for a successful career in Hollywood.

When Mitchell Huckstepp left high school, he had no particular career in mind. He made the bold decision to follow his passion, and enrolled in a Bachelor of Music (Composition) at Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

“Composition has always been the aspect of music I’m most interested in and seeking out the how and why behind the music fascinates me,” says Mitchell.    

After graduating from the Con in 2013, Mitchell worked in the licensing department at Universal Music Publishing, before continuing his career at Future Classic, a record label, publishing and management company representing artists such as Flume, G Flip, Ta-ku, SOPHIE, Flight Facilities and Hayden James.

As Senior Director, Publishing & Licensing at Future Classic, Mitchell says, “I’m primarily responsible for synchronisation licensing, where I work with musicians, music supervisors, producers, directors, advertising/marketing agencies and independent creatives to place music in their various projects across films, TV series, video games and advertisements.”

Mitchell says his job exists “solely to support artists”, both those who Future Classic represent and also the filmmakers and creatives who are bringing so much content into the world. “I'm constantly driven to help them achieve their goals and enjoy the most success they can, whatever that marker of success may be.”

I’ve been fortunate to work on many amazing projects, but particular highlights include curating an in-game radio station for Xbox’s Forza Horizon 3, licensing our artist Thrupence in a Super Bowl ad for Google and working on an Apple ad soundtracked by Flume.

With offices in Los Angeles and Sydney, Mitchell made the move to LA in 2019 to be closer to the global film, TV and video game industries, while still working with creatives all over the world.  

“I’ve been fortunate to work on many amazing projects, but particular highlights include curating an in-game radio station for Xbox’s Forza Horizon 3, licensing our artist Thrupence in a Super Bowl ad for Google and working on an Apple ad soundtracked by Flume.”

Fortunate not to have many typical days, Mitchell spends a lot of time listening to music from a range of artists to stay up to date. “I’m constantly liaising with clients about projects, scenes and products, negotiating and contracting licensed uses and working with my colleagues on upcoming releases and artist strategy.”

Mitchell says the hardest parts of his job, are also the most rewarding. “Music placements are competitive, with clients and users having many options for any given scene, campaign or project. I can work on a project for months, or even years, and then the scene gets cut because the episode ran too long and everything was for naught.

“That being said, when we do succeed in securing an amazing creative placement for one of our artist’s songs, it's incredibly rewarding.”

The arts are a passion-based course of study, but there are many jobs in the broader music industry that it will prepare you for beyond that of a performer, composer or teacher.

Mitchell credits his degree in music to giving him the invaluable communication skills needed to succeed in Hollywood. “Having a music degree is incredibly useful when interpreting client-speak into musical directions, translating a vibe or feeling into the musicality required to achieve that. It’s also really helpful being able to communicate on a deeper musical level with our writers and artists, and being a composition major has certainly been useful given the frequency of sampling in contemporary music!”

“The arts are a passion-based course of study, but there are many jobs in the broader music industry that it will prepare you for beyond that of a performer, composer or teacher. You may not even know that many of these jobs exist, so my advice to students is to keep an open mind, look broadly and do everything possible to meet and talk to as many people as you can. Relationships are so valuable.”

Looking to the future, Mitchell says he wants continue to push Australian artists and Australian music in the US and around the world. “It’s a new golden age for TV and series-based storytelling so there is a huge opportunity for musicians within that space.”

 

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