Making the transition from music graduate to pro

Gaining a degree in music or being self-taught to an advanced level is a great starting-point for a career in composing, but those taking their first steps into the professional world often find that significant gaps in their knowledge and understanding – in business, but particularly in how to make their existing writing strengths work in their favour.

So how do you convert your musical ability into a career? I currently provide a one-to-one mentoring service for those starting out, providing them with personalised career development advice vital to making the transition to professional freelance composer. Read how it works below and use the form to take your first steps into the pro world.


My name is Joe Glasman

I’m a composer who’s won over thirty international awards for writing and arranging music to picture, including Clio Awards, Mobius, D&AD, Promax, British Television advertising awards, the New York Festival and more.

I am the owner and MD of Hum, a music production company based in London, as well as our globally distributed label ‘Hum Tracks’, renowned for quirky, distinctive artist-driven music – where I take particular pleasure in producing and guiding our younger writers’ work.

I have for many years offered internships for music graduates at Hum, and in association with the University of Leeds and the University of Huddersfield I have provided placements for music students on their ‘year in industry’ programmes.

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Composers I mentor are generally post-graduates, or have achieved a professional or near-professional level of expertise within at least one musical genre as a composer or producer. I mentor at my studio in central London, in the UK, but Skype sessions are available.

All my mentoring is one-to-one. It’s about filling in the vital practical gaps in your knowledge that degree courses often leave vacant, and in analysing your work on an expert one-to-one basis for its viability in the world of commissioned music.

Areas in which I mentor are:

Specialising: the sorting hat

All composers have strengths and weaknesses that make them more suited to some areas than others: so which is right for you? Commercials? Audio Branding & idents? Film? Production (Library) Music? Or as an Artist in your own right? They each also have their own culture, economy & ways of operating. One person can’t have the knowledge, breadth and contacts to succeed in all of them: I will help you understand what each offers and how it works, then assess which is best for you to focus on.


In order to succeed in such a crowded market-place you must stand out in some significant way: by having a distinctive voice, sound or approach that gives you an individual musical personality. One of the key jobs I will do as a mentor is to help you analyse and understand where that originality and strength might lie and then help you bring it out.


No composer should venture into the profession without a solid understanding of the fundamentals of publishing. The large companies that commission composers have expert publishing lawyers drawing up their contracts who lay traps for the unwary. Fees you may earn on commissions need to be balanced against how much you may earn in royalties, and assessing this is essential. This area covers membership of a collective rights society such as PRS and the nature of your relationship with it.

Composer vs Producer/Engineer

To what extent are you one and not the other? Trained classical composers often lack the ability to present projects to a pitch-winning standard, but the reverse is often true of Producers, whose arranging and composition skills may be lacking. I will give you an honest assessment of where the balance of your skills lie in this respect as well and show you how to write and present at the pitching stage, where budgets for musicians and studio time may be non-existent.

Self-Promotion & Networking

What’s the best way to present and promote yourself? How much time and money do you need to invest in it? Which industry organisations and unions should you be a member of? I will explain the options and help you create an effective and sustainable plan.


I have extensive experience in the kinds of contracts you will likely come up against and can provide you with a grounding in how they work differently for composers in differing professional environments.

Working with clients

When you do get work, managing your clients’ expectations and handling their queries and feedback can be challenging, especially when – as is likely the case – you’re the kind of person who is more comfortable working alone in a room for long periods! There are certain various standard types of client feedback which, once you understand them, make them easier to handle. Saying ‘No’ can sometimes be difficult, but can be essential. I will help you understand how to negotiate this key hurdle to professional success.

Assessment for work at Hum / Humtracks

Any approaches are also reviewed for suitability for contribution to Hum’s production music library or ongoing commissioned productions. It’s always a pleasure when we get to commission someone who starts off as an intern or mentoree.

Joe in Control Room A 20170315 (1 of 1) copy

The Master-Classroom: my own studio at Hum where I write and mentor.

Hum’s discussion area – chilling, listening and talking


Mentoring is on a fee-basis, based on an hourly rate. *  I offer a variety of packages, including:

Master-Class Review

A full overview, consisting of: a review by me of your existing portfolio in advance of a meeting; a one-to-one meeting at my studio (or over Skype) to review and advise on all the major areas above my mentoring focuses on. This would take around 2-3 hours;  I would afterwards send you a written report summarising my recommendations. Evenings are available.

Hourly Consultancy

Guidance and coaching in any of the areas listed above where you feel you need it most. Evenings are available. (minimum 2 hours).

Master-Class Release Project

For writers of proven ability, we may offer the option to create an EP project for the Hum Tracks label for release.

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We’d love to hear from you

Fees available on request.

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    * Please note that I am offering paid professional advice based on my experience only; I am not offering formal teaching as part of any formal or educational course, nor am I offering educational qualifications.