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Michael's music career hits high note after high note

Michael Drew's career has hit a high note, as the multi-award-winning composer for film, television and computer games has just notched up another win.

His score for ‘Just Like Me’ won Best Soundtrack at the New York International Film Awards – capping off an incredible 2021 and adding to his already impressive credentials.

With a passion for music and a determination for a career as a composer, Michael began his diploma to degree pathway and enrolled to study the Diploma of Music - Performance (CUA50820) (107861K) with TAFE Queensland in 2010.

“Straight away, TAFE Queensland let me do university differently because it was outside the norms of what I thought a university would be,” explained Michael.

“All the things the teachers told me and that first year helped shape me to where I am today. I look back on what they taught me about the music business and technical aspects of what a creative career entails, and it’s incredible that the knowledge gained still gets used in my career practises today”.

After completing the diploma, Michael continued studying, completing both the Bachelor of Contemporary Music Practice (306JA.2) and the Bachelor of Arts and Design (Honours) (298JA.1), delivered by TAFE Queensland in partnership with the University of Canberra.

“The best part about studying with TAFE Queensland was how hands-on it was. I wasn’t just learning theory – I was out there doing it, playing live shows, and composing for real projects as part of my studies,” he said.

Michael’s career began during his studies when he scored the student film “The Neon King” which not only won him the “Best Soundtrack” award, but the film went on to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

“The main highlight was the study abroad tour that is part of the degree program. “In two weeks we hit London, Paris and Germany and met some of the biggest names you can think of, and that was when I met some of the contacts that have helped guide and influence my career today.”

Michael’s honours research paper was on building an interactive soundtrack, designed to be used in real-time for the role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons. This allowed Michael to undergo intense research and practice to learn the technological devices used in the industry today, as well as the compositional approaches needed for such music to work effectively.

While studying his honours, Michael also worked as an associate lecturer, guiding undergraduates through their courses and giving back to the program and had given him so much.

After completing his studies, Michael turned his attention to building the career of his dreams and now works as an award-winning composer for films, television, games and spatial audio experiences. He has now added experience as a conductor and orchestrator to his skillset.

“My time at TAFE allowed me to build and understand that scoring multimedia projects is my calling. I have been extremely lucky to work with some wonderfully talented musicians, directors and producers and have my music heard all over the globe. I have also been gifted continued guidance from the teachers”.

Michael has now relocated from the Sunshine Coast to Los Angeles where he plans to settle for a while, keep working in the industry and continue chasing his dreams in the music industry.

His advice for other musicians who want to study towards a career in the music industry includes bringing their passion and enthusiasm to every project.

“Bring a strong work ethic, and an open mind to any project, and no concept is too complex. Education can be extremely useful and I would absolutely recommend TAFE Queensland and the music programs they offer.”

“Not only will you learn all the things you need to take your music career seriously but you'll actually have a lot of fun doing it,” concluded Michael.