Accomplished music producer, composer, and filmmaker, Ufuk Önen, completed his PhD at the University of Salford in 2017. Ufuk has published the first music technology reference book in the Turkish language, Audio Recording and Music Technologies, which is used as an essential textbook in universities and schools across Turkey. 

Ufuk has also gone on to create Sounding Off, a project that aims to inspire women interested in music and sound design for visual media. As part of the launch of Sounding Off, Ufuk took part in an interview to share his story. 

What was the most important thing you learned at Salford? How has this helped you in life?  

One of the most profound lessons I took away from my experience at Salford was the invaluable understanding that failure is not something to fear, even though it stands in contrast to the cultural norm in my native country. In my culture, failing is often viewed as something to avoid at all costs. Salford taught me that it’s okay to stumble, to make mistakes, and to encounter setbacks because within these experiences lie some of our most potent lessons. It’s in our failures that we discover our resilience and the capacity to evolve.  

Salford’s lesson is that failure is not a destination; it’s a path towards failing better and, ultimately, succeeding more brilliantly in the future. This mindset continues to propel me forward in my journey. 

Ufuk at Media City

Tell us about your latest initiative, Sounding Off 

Sounding Off: The Next Generation of Women in Sound is an initiative tailored to women interested in music and sound design for visual media. It serves as a catalyst for their professional development while offering valuable networking opportunities. 

Our inaugural Sounding Off event, held at Bilkent University in May 2023, marked a significant milestone. From a pool of 250 applications, our committee thoughtfully selected 15 participants to attend the event in person. These individuals were granted access to enriching experiences, including seminars, talks, panels, and workshops, all conducted by esteemed instructors and industry experts from Türkiye, the United States, Germany and Bulgaria. 

Furthermore, the event was not confined to the physical attendees alone; we also live-streamed it on YouTube, making the content accessible to a public audience.  

What impact has it made so far? 

Beyond its immediate impact, Sounding Off generated considerable buzz and support from various quarters. Notably, influential figures, including celebrities and high-profile people in Türkiye, enthusiastically endorsed and shared information about the event on social media. This amplified our mission to raise awareness about the underrepresentation of women in sound and music for visual media. 

What inspired you to create Sounding Off: The Next Generation of Women in Sound?  

The genesis of Sounding Off finds its roots in the conventional perception of professional audio and music production as predominantly male-dominated domains. The persistent underrepresentation of women in roles such as sound designers, audio engineers, and film music composers is a longstanding concern. Statistics indicate that the presence of women in production within the sound and music industry barely reaches 5%, a lamentable gender imbalance that transcends borders, including Türkiye. This stark reality served as the impetus behind the inception of Sounding Off. 

Sounding Off in action

What steps do you think need to be taken to make meaningful changes for women in the music industry? 

Initiating change begins with raising awareness of the prevailing gender disparities within the music industry. The more individuals, organizations, and institutions become aware of the problem, the more effectively we can work towards rectifying it. Education and advocacy campaigns can play a pivotal role in this regard. 

Establishing and supporting organisations and events tailored specifically for women is paramount. These platforms should offer a comprehensive spectrum of opportunities, including educational resources and networking prospects.  

Recognising and promoting the exceptional talents of female professionals within the industry is vital. They are powerful role models, inspiring other women to pursue careers in sound and music. Their visibility sets an example but also challenges stereotypes and biases that may exist. Collaborative efforts to showcase their achievements through media, awards, and recognition can significantly contribute to this objective. 

Who has influenced your work? This could be a tutor, colleague, family member, celebrity, friend, etc. If so, what influence have they had?  

My journey has been illuminated by a constellation of influential figures from various walks of life. Their collective influence can be distilled into a resounding message: Be unapologetically yourself, excel relentlessly, and never cease to dream. This powerful mantra, echoing through the wisdom of these remarkable individuals, serves as both a guiding philosophy and an unwavering source of inspiration.  

It reminds me that the path to success is paved with the authenticity of oneself, the unwavering commitment to excellence, and an unyielding belief in the boundless possibilities of the future. In the mosaic of their wisdom, I find the intellectual and emotional fuel to keep pushing boundaries, to dare greatly, and to make a meaningful impact in sound and music. 

What advice would you give to Salford students and graduates wanting to get involved in the music industry?  

Educating yourself and real-world exposure are invaluable. Continuously expand your knowledge and skills. Stay updated on industry trends, emerging genres, production techniques, and new technologies. Seek internships, freelance gigs, or entry-level positions to gain practical experience. 

Develop expertise in multiple areas, such as sound design, production, and music composition. Versatility opens doors. 

Collaborative projects offer growth and exposure. Don’t hesitate to work with peers from diverse backgrounds. Create a compelling portfolio showcasing your best work. A strong online presence can attract potential collaborators and employers. 

Finally, don’t be afraid to take calculated risks. Sometimes, unconventional paths lead to extraordinary opportunities. 

The Sounding Off team, Ufuk is centre right

We would like to thank Ufuk for taking part in this blog. His work in higher education and supporting women in music is an inspiration and we hope readers of this article enjoyed reading Ufuk’s story. 

We are immensely proud of all our alumni, if you would like to share your stories of success, advice or promote something you are proud of please do not hesitate to contact me or the alumni team.   

Amos Brooks – Alumni Engagement Officer:    

LinkedIn: Amos Brooks | LinkedIn   


Alumni Team: