We’re really sorry to spring this upon you Tonemillers but, Autumn is officially here. And although your Tonemamas love an excuse to wear gloves and an umbrella, we are already missing those sweaty, yet glorious days of summer…Luckily for us, today’s feature puts us in a time machine and brings us back two months ago (or wait, let’s do one year and two months, shall we?)
Let us introduce you to Brooklyn-bound Becky Krill. She is, just like a lot of you talented Tonemillers (what, we can’t flatter our readers?), a multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer! A few days ago she released the music video to her latest single “Alive in the Summertime” – a light pop song conveying that bubbly feeling of sweet summer lovin’.
When you thought Lil Nas and Billy Ray Cyrus had taken genre blending as far as possible, here comes Becky and takes country music out of the barn and places it in a fancy club with expensive cocktails. Instead of line dance, it’s that other dance that people do in clubs where they pump their fists and all of that stuff (shut up… you haven’t been to a club in a while either!)
It’s straight up impressive how Becky Krill manages to put so many ideas into one production while still keeping it tidy and clear. She caters to our short attention span and we’re with her from the first moment to the last! Her smooth voice repeating “It’s gonna be alright” over the combination of nostalgic synths and the acoustic guitars makes us feel optimistic and free – like we’re young Tonegirls again!
Becky’s dropping her next single in just a week so make sure to follow her on all platforms!
You’ve just heard the finalized mastered version of your new song that you have spent one entire month writing, recording, producing…and now it’s finished. “This is bloody good,” you think to yourself excitedly. You close the song and return to the three hundred and fifty browsers you currently have open chronicling your journey to finding labels, how to contact labels, how to be famous, how to be an Instagram influencer, how to enter that new competition to win a new pair of Lululemon yoga pants (…No? Is this just a specific rabbit hole that the Tonemamas put themselves through?) You sit back in your chair and sigh. “Here I am with this incredible tune,” you say to the empty room. “How do I get it heard?” Suddenly out of nowhere, a flash of light strikes and two angelic Tonemamas appear on each side of you. “What the f-….”, you manage to mutter as they gently take your hand to open up a new browser. “Here is the answer you’ve been looking for my child,” they say at the same time and then disappear in another flash of light. You look at the words that appear on your screen and begin reading:
How to get your music heard by a bigger audience
Your Tonemamas love flipping through our old-school rolodex of contacts in order to bring you the expertise you deserve. Today’s guest is Nakul Sharma who whilst being a graduate student of the NYU Music Business program has also interned at Verve Label Group (UMG), worked in A&R and Artist Management at Sony Music India while also founding a music discovery platform called Pesky Tapes and being part of two successful artist projects (Burudu and Davesar). We don’t mess around when we call upon the experts.
You want to know how to get your music heard by a major label or just expand your audience? Nakul breaks it down for us:
1. Have an existing voice and vision
“A label ideally wants to work with artists that have at least an initial sense of what they represent. Instead of coming in with an attitude of ‘Tell me what to be’’”, Nakul tells us.
Present your artistic self with an existing image that the team can help foster and execute.
2.Work on the numbers
This is one us sensitive artists hate hearing, but Wednesday’s are all about dropping truth bombs.
“Numbers are crucial,” Nakul confirms. “Find some kind of success in your music whether it’s in streams, followers, TikTok views that can validate your music.” “But I don’t want toooo,” you whine to us (and we frequently whine to each other). “I get it,” Nakul sympathizes with us. “But it’s about incorporating your personality and letting it speak up in some form. Even artists who are not keen to constantly showcase their charisma through social media platforms can find a way to communicate.”
Such an important reminder: there is a place for everyone on the social meeds!
3.Do your research to find the right fit
When your music gets rejected, it often is less a statement on the inherent value of the music and more about not being the right fit. “You have to know what music that label is signing,” Nakul informs us. “Do the research.”
Do you write electronic classical music while rapping in Polish? There’s a label out there for you but you have to DO THE RESEARCH.
4.Understand your music’s genre and the related target audience
Understanding this will help you with the previous point – knowing who your audience is can help you select the label that is currently targeting that specific audience.
5.Get on playlists
There are many ways to get on playlists whether submitting to our very own Tonemill’s playlist, going through SubmitHub or even learning more about Spotify’s submission process for tracks pending release.
6.Play at festivals
“But- “, you’re about to say and YES, WE KNOW FESTIVALS ARE A THING OF THE PAST. But, there are a plethora of digital/ virtual shows happening as music venues get creative so don’t make it an excuse, rather adapt (easier said than done, Instagram Live takes some getting used to #livecommentsarestressful).
7.Invest in short-form content
Instagram, TikTok, Twitter…they are both the devil and the darling of a musician’s reality. But as Nakul reminds us, “the value of short-form content cannot be underestimated”. Get creative with short videos, alternative versions of your music, etc.
8.Share, then share again, and then share some more
“The most important thing is to share,” Nakul explains. “Not holding on in saying ‘this needs a certain level of perfection’, but rather putting out more content and seeing where it goes.” Once again: share it. Then share it again, and then finally: share some more.
9.Do everything you can to ensure quality
Having just spoken about the perfection problem, you’re probably ready to slam your laptop down and yell “hypocrites!”. Wait! Quantity is still important, but the importance of quality can be true at the same time. “Music needs to be of a certain standard, but it’s nothing that can only be done with the help of a top mixing/ mastering engineer,” Nakul tells us. “Use resources within your budget and your network, there is talent all around us, it’s all about connecting the dots.”
*Enter back into scene*
You close your laptop screen, and sit back in your chair. Out of the window there is a full moon glistening against a dark night sky.
“Thank you Tonemamas and Nakul,” you whisper to the once-again-empty room.
Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer Peter Wise offers up a soulful ballad that recounts the melancholy tale of femme fatale “Methadone Joan”. Wise explains that the tune is about “the struggle to let go of someone”, and I believe him. He says that under routine circumstances he would potentially try and “hide a song like this under layers of production”. I appreciate that he did not, I think it would have cheapened the greatest strength of this tune – the veracity and genuine emotional journey.
Wise’s imperfect but charming vocals are delivered with a sentimental lilt and ring with a sincerity reminiscent of Jeff Buckley as he tells the story of Methadone Joan through vocal frys and thoughtful lyrics. As someone who has fallen prey to an addiction or two myself, I am always wary of songwriters who tackle this subject since it has the potential to sound contrived and forced. I’m glad to say that Wise does not, there is integrity in his writing and delivery.
The ascending guitar break beginning at 3:30 reminds me of the feeling of trying to speak while simultaneously trying not to cry. The pitch in your voice raises higher and higher as your throat closes up and the tears inevitably spill out anyway. The guitar emulates this beautifully. This pause from the vocals is a smart decision and allows the listener to ruminate about the character Wise has created. Do we love Methadone Joan? Do we hate her? Do we understand her, need her, refuse her? I’m glad that Wise never gives us a definitive answer.
Wise has delivered a powerful and reliable song with an emotional depth that captivates listeners. He has achieved a great feat as a songwriter: writing a tune that evokes both sympathy and empathy from his audience. We feel for him and we feel for ourselves and our own, personal “Methadone Joan”.
Listen for: 1:56 as Wise pleads while delivering the lyrics “I woke up a week later / Coughed up blood from broken ribs / Cried “anybody come, / And get me out of here” ” with a truly heartbreaking earnestness. It’s enough to make even the most heartless of bitches shed a tear into their 3rd tequila. (Trust me, I would know.)
Best listened to: with your addiction of choice – whether it be a person, a substance, or a memory.
Alexandra James is a 25 year old writer and musician based in Brooklyn. Her passions include writing honest love songs, growing jalapeños, and powerful female energy. She can’t stand cringe-worthy tattoos, Karens, and the year 2020. In addition to loving words, she is a tequila enthusiast, and enjoys using both when writing and reviewing music.
The Tonemamas have treated themselves to an imaginary vacation, and how splendid it’s been! Currently we’re sipping cocktails in the country where the first bebe humans were spotted back in the days: the land of South Africa. That’s right, this week we have left New York City’s soundscape of random screaming, screeching trains and furious cabbies pummeling their car horns every three and a half minutes, and replaced it with the rich, diverse and multidimensional musical gems in l’Afrique du Sud (they speak so many languages in South Africa we panicked and picked French…#MamansDeTon) Standing at the forefront of the South African contemporary music scene is a strikingly beautiful woman wearing a combination of expressive prints and textures and singing with a voice you can’t help turning your head towards and saying, “Who is that?”.
We’ll tell you who: it is Zoë Modiga. And she’s quietly-not-so-quietly working her way up to becoming a household name in the infinitely diverse world of African Jazz story-telling and songwriting (Modiga’s debut album was casually-not-so-casually nominated for “Best Jazz Album” and “Best African Artist” at the South African Music Awards two years ago).
Modiga released her second album “Inganekwane” this year, meaning “a fairy tale” in isiZulu (one of South Africa’s twelve national languages). This is an album she describes accurately as “evolving the African sound without losing its essence”.
The track “Lengoma” featuring Tubatsi Mpho Moloi is quite simply outstanding. “Lengoma” meaning “this hymn” is a song for healing and dancing, with the repeated lyrics stating “We are here, we are here, we are living for this song/ healing.” The hypnotic rhythms are sustained by a band of exquisite musicians. The circular/ repetitive structure speaks to the song’s meditative quality. It nurtures a trance-like space where the listener can, without understanding the language, feel completely in tune with Modiga’s communal message. To our New Yorkers sick of hearing the random man next to you yell obscenities on the subway while also peeing, put in your earphones and drown out our concrete jungle’s noise pollution with the magic that is Zoë Modiga.
Listen for this moment: 3:05 as the different musical elements weave together to create a delicious stew of musical meditation
Best listened to: While jogging in Central Park just deep enough so that the tops of buildings are no longer visible so you can immerse yourself in the healing power of greens and Modiga’s melodies
If you’re an artist based in NYC and semi-fluent in the language of Instagram, you’re probably following NYCMusicians. Maybe you’ve even been featured on their page! Back in the day when the Tonemamas were just a couple of young gals looking for features for the newly-formed Tonemill, we scoured the page for fresh talent on the city’s music market.
Vlad Tipicidi, the founder of NYCmusicians answers our Zoom call from a car. Remarkably it’s not an Uber or cab, the reasonable expectation for any New Yorker but then again, Vlad is a pretty remarkable guy. Who is the big kahuna behind the successful Instagram platform? Vlad moved to the US six years ago after relinquishing a life as a lawyer in Moscow. “In Russia the music industry felt limited, the big genres were pop-based, it felt like rock was dying there, so I knew that if I wanted to be a rock musician I had to go to the US”, he tells us. And so, like the beginning of every great American tale, he quit his job and moved to New York to become a rock star!
Let’s set the scene. You move to the city to be a successful musician…what do you do first? Look for other musicians, of course! Vlad tells us about how he became hyperactive in attending as many shows and visiting all the music venues he could in order to connect with musicians. While searching in-person, he also seeks out musicians digitally and soon discovers that no such online community exists for New York. While scrolling he notices the pervasiveness of the hashtag #nycmusicians used abundantly by all the lost NYC-based musicians all looking for a home on the internet. And a home, Vlad would give them. “I randomly started this account to find band members, I would go on “locations” on Instagram, like rehearsal studios in New York and follow people. Sometimes I would see something I loved and I would repost it and well, here we are four years later. I never focused on growing the page, I only did it for fun and to find band members for myself.” We smile, nod and pretend not to be provoked by his easygoing attitude as if not describing a robust and highly successful platform that boasts over 22,2K followers on Instagram, Spotify playlists and a newly started blog (…these are impressive stats, folks!).
What’s in the future for NYCMusicians and Vlad himself? “I’m still in the process of thinking of different ways of expanding. I just created a new website, in this case I thought to myself, ‘What can I share with these musicians? What problems do I see for myself as a musician that others may have too?’ I want NYCmusicians to be a place to gather resources in one place and share information, because when I first came to New York I didn’t know where to go or how to start.”
If you’ve lived in the city for over a year and developed that unmistakable sheath of cynicism, you’re probably thinking: “But wait a minute…what’s in it for him?” (You asked not us, we are beautifully humble, non-cynical Tonemamas). Vlad is a musician, but he is also a man of business. He tells us about hoping to own a record label in the future, and how NYCMusicians serve as a long term game in finding collaborators for these future projects. “I’m honestly also just a super fan of music, when I see a video of someone great I think ‘Wow, this is so inspirational, I really want to work with this person or help them in any way or even just collaborate with them myself!”
The Tonemamas are always digging for spice and never finding any…it seems New York Musicians are pure of heart and intentions… #yawn. But we yawn too soon: “Another line I just started before ‘rona was to host open mics for NYC musicians, we only did one before everything closed down, but this specific evening there was a tourist from Norway performing (shoutout to Norway), later I saw that she started a friendship with a guy that also played there, and now they are in a relationship!” Okay, wait, that is some delicious spice for the Tonemamas! NYCMusicians a platform for finding musicians and…dating musicians??? We’re in! “And,” Vlad continues passionately, “One day I posted a video of a girl dancing in the subway, an instrumentalist loved the video and sent her a message and now they’re like best friends and working together! People are finding each other through this account!” Well that warms even our little cynical hearts.
Finally we ask Vlad if he has any concrete tips for New York based artists that are building their careers. He starts out by emphasizing that there is no rule that works for everyone and that tips are hard to give because everyone needs to go their own way. “But, if there’s three tips I can share it would be the following:
Invest money into your project: Nobody else is going to come along and pay and you need your project to look and sound as professional as possible.
Know your weaknesses: You’re bad at recording? Hire someone else to do it for you or to help you out.
Know your strengths: If you’re an excellent live musician, invest your main time and money there. You can’t invest in video, live, good photos, social media, recordings all at once. Especially because most likely you’re completely broke. So though you should invest a little time into everything, know your main focus.”
Vlad leaves us with one piece of advice we should all perhaps do a little bit more often; “If you don’t know what your strengths and weaknesses are, ask someone whose opinion you trust.”
There you have it Tonemillers, the mystery man behind @nycmusicians has finally been revealed! Make sure to give him your support!
As you may have noticed by now, Tonemill is quite the exclusive club. So far (with the exception of a quick virtual trip to London), this party has had a strict New Yorker-only policy. And though nobody will agree more than the Tonemamas that New York City is an endless gold mine of unparalleled talent and creativity, even we need a change of scenery every now and then. (No offence Lady Lib!) So with no further ado; Ladies! Trans! Non-binaries! Gentlemen! Binaries! Dyadics! Pans! All other genders out there!! Welcome TOOOOO **Djembe drum roll** SOUTH AFRICA WEEK!!!
Guiding us through the lush bushveld of South African contemporary music is artist, composer, songwriter and singer ‘Kuza with his latest single “Dreams (Amaphupho Am)” featuring Jillian Shively. ‘Kuza was classically trained in Cape Town, but is currently residing in Colorado where he just earned his Master’s degree – and let’s just say his training has paid off.
“Dreams (Amaphupho Am)” starts with a fade-in of a voice so deep and resonating it almost reminds us of overtone chanting or throat singing. This lasts only a few seconds before transporting us into a dreamy landscape of rich, dark pads. Contrast seems to be a friend of ‘Kuza, and a clear consistent musical choice in this track – when Jillian Shively’s clear and high voice cuts through the mystical, dark synths it’s like the the early rays of a scorching African sun sweeping away the previous evening’s warm shadows.
And Tonemillers, how about that vocal arrangement! As we’re listening to it, the Tonemamas start sweating on the virtual verandah we’re sitting on somewhere in the Eastern Cape in South Africa. We have to start removing the layers of our safari clothing (such tourists!), because talk about a powerful build-up! For each round he introduces more and more choir elements until it becomes a true vocal spectacle. The rhythm underneath drives at a faster pace still with Jillian’s clear and beautiful voice over the dark pads and haunting backup vocals repeating “Amaphupho Am” (Zulu for “my dream”) . As we allow ourselves to sink into the music we can’t help but conjure up the image of forest elves running across a vast South African savannah.
‘Kuza himself states that as an artist he wishes to “harmonize the silence rather than just add to the noise”. We don’t know about you, but the Tonemamas think we can safely say that he has met and succeeded in his vision.The forward motion, the drive, the excellent tension and release keeps us on our toes and only leaves us wanting more. Music supervisors, hurry up and grab ‘Kuza for your films!!!
Listen for: 0:52 when the backup vocals mumbles and fades in – CHILLS and GOOSEBUMPS!
Best enjoyed: When you’re dancing contemporary-style while naked in the kitchen (remember to keep your curtains open!), or when you’re skinny dipping, or when you’re running naked around the forest (Whaaat? We were just kidding with that last one! We don’t do that! Gosh…)
Tonemillers, we did it! Your Tonemamas went outside to meet with today’s 9th floor guest Pablo Morales, a recording/ mixing engineer at Flux Studios (NYC). When we met Morales at a socially distant coffee spot in Brooklyn, we instantly remembered that outside is kind of inconvenient actually. Did you guys know that trains are really loud on the outside? Or that clouds sometimes release water randomly on the outside? Right, we also forgot. As we sat there having our conversation interrupted at regular fifteen intervals by the roaring screeching of the trains (really, MTA, now you decide a regular schedule works?!) today’s 9th floor guest met us only with good-natured warmth and charm.
Pablo Morales is working full-time at the legendary Flux Studio owned by Grammy-nominated Fab DuPont. This studio is no stranger to legends: Jennifer Lopez, Andre 3000, Chance the Rapper and Frank Ocean are some greats who have casually strolled through its halls. “Can you talk trash about any famous people?” your Tonemamas blurted out wasting no time with their classic composed professionalism. As Morales opens his mouth to answer, the anti-gossip Gods strike us with another perfectly scheduled train and we miss all that comes out except catching only the last remnants as the stupid train finally passes: “….the nicest people I’ve encountered are the ones who are the most famous.” Not today, Tonemamas.
Morales is a 24-year old Colombian-now-NYC-based artist, musician and recording/mixing engineer. As a wee child he started on the drums, formed a band with his brother, fell out of a tree, sustained an injury that rendered him unable to play the drums reorienting him to a career in recorded music. After being accepted at three major studios to intern, Morales chose Flux Studios as it “felt like home”. Now having swapped getting coffee/ taking out trash and other intern tasks for high-level responsibility like leading sessions with artists of extraordinary calibre (including The Strokes, Jon Batiste, and Michelle Willis), Morales gives us the golden list:
How To Survive Studio Culture as a Young Recording Engineer:
1.In the beginning, establish yourself through observation
Morales is adamant, this is the stuff they don’t teach you at music school. You learn through assimilating into the background. “Be there without being there, you know?” Morales explains. “You’re not supposed to be the main guy in the gig, you have to figure out, ‘where do I belong in this place right now?’”
2.Observe and respect the social dynamics of the studio
You thought you could just waltz in and show off all your fancy technical skills? Not so fast, young one. “You have to be aware of your surroundings and learn to read the room,” Morales informs us, “Because sometimes the best thing you can do is shut the fuck up and get out.” Conclusion: harness those social antennas and become fluent in the art of unspoken cues.
3.Be prepared to have your youth used against you
While youth may be a commodity in the music industry for artists, it certainly plays a less positive role in the engineering/ technical sphere. “When you’re this young, people look down at you,” Morales tells us. “People assume that when you’re this young, you don’t know what you’re doing.” “Have you had experiences where that has directly impacted you?” we ask. Morales nods his head leading us into our next point:
4.Don’t take things personally – learn to subtract your ego from the equation
Morales shares an anecdote of meeting an artist at the elevator at Flux Studios who, upon learning that the fresh-faced Morales would be leading the session, was visibly disappointed. “I didn’t take it personally, because it wasn’t about me,” Morales remembers of the situation. “It’s really hard to sometimes subtract yourself and your ego from the process, but when you do things can just flow.” Morales recalls brushing off the comments and instead assuming professional mode, leading the mentioned artist into a fully prepared studio space and saying, “when you’re ready, I’m ready.” After a couple of hours of observing Morales’ evident competence, the artist’s entire attitude changed. Morales concludes: “As long as you can do your job, no one fucking cares.” Preach, amen.
5.Start with an internship to learn humility
Morales recalls his own internship and its purpose in “snapping him back to reality.” Coming in with big visions of clinking glasses with Jay Z himself while consulting with Beyoncé on a track, Morales was instead relegated to taking out the trash, cleaning bathrooms and being on coffee duty. The lesson? “I’m at the lowest part of the food chain and there’s a reason for that – I need to pay my dues,” he says proudly. The pride in his voice shows the lesson paid off – a man motivated by the possibility of only going upwards can consider himself successfully schooled in the basics of humility.
6.Be ready to be on call
This was news to your Tonemamas. Turns out being a recording/ mixing engineer at a major studio is not that much different from being a doctor (apart from the whole “saving lives” thing). You are on call pretty much 24/7. “Sometimes you’re out with your friends and you get a call like, ‘Hey, there’s a big artist coming tonight, can you be there?’ And if you’ve had a couple of drinks you’re like, should I say yes or no?” “Well, what should you say?” your Tonemamas ask definitely never having been drunk on the job never ever before. Morales gives us a big confident smile and utters a resounding: “YES.” Conclusion: Always say yes.
7.Prepare to work grueling shifts
This one also seems pretty doctor-like (yes, yes again apart from the whole saving lives thing, calm down). “I did 36-hour shifts – I’d go to the studio at 9AM and leave at 5PM the next day.” Damn. “But…but when do you sleep?” we ask concerned and putting the ‘mama’ in Tonemama. Again, we get a confident smile back: “You don’t.”
8.Prepare to not have many breaks during the working day/night
“People sometimes forget that engineers are human too,” Morales says with a lot more understanding in his voice than he should (they’re people, guys! What’s wrong with you?!). “Not because they’re bad people, they just forget. They take a break to eat and you’re editing and comping vocals and then they’re done eating and you’re like, okay I’m going to take my break and they’re like, no I’ve got a great idea, let’s go!” Let the man eat, for pity’s sake.
9.Studio life and social life will merge into one
“Flux became my home and the people there my family.” Well, that one sounds kind of nice.
10.Make friends with constant pressure
“You have to get comfortable but not too comfortable…it’s difficult not to feel burnt or even broken sometimes, but you just have to fucking pick yourself up.” That’s some go-getter energy – couldn’t we all use a Morales in our lives when we’ve collapsed on the floor after doing one push-up in a work-out session?
11.Be comfortable knowing that they know that you don’t know
Read the sentence again, it’s a bit of a wordy one. But so true! “They know that you don’t know shit,” Morales grins. “You just have to be there and learn through fucking up.”
12.Lastly, and most importantly: care about the music first. Care about everything else next.
“Even though I’m a recording engineer, I’m first and foremost a musician and an artist.” Can we get a hallelujah! “I do this to capture a performance and emotion,” Morales continues. “I don’t just do this so I can press a button, anyone can press a button.”
There you have it….
Tonemillers – if any of you are budding recording/ mixing engineers – take this list of precious advice offered generously to us by a man who has walked the walk to be able to talk the talk and write it all over your face because these are music industry gemstones (fine if you’re going to be a baby about it, write it on a piece of paper then #soboring).
We finish the interview by asking Morales why anyone should think of hiring him as a recording/ mixing engineer (although from the wealth of knowledge he’s just shared, it seems pretty obvious). “I’ve become pretty good at subtracting myself from the equation. Plus I’ve learned from the best and the philosophy behind why they do what they do, so people will get a combination of that.” He pauses for a bit to reflect more and then his face breaks out in another cheeky grin. “Plus, I’m dope, so hire me,” he finishes off cheerfully. His dope-ness, we can indeed attest for.
COVID has not been kind to NYC’s creative community – Miss ‘Rona feels like a Regina George (ref Mean Girls…again…) who strutted onto our musical scene, pointed to all live shows, in-person collaborations and network events and announced, “you can’t sit with us”. Just like that all of us musicians found ourselves sadly sitting alone at the proverbial lunch table, wondering what our musical friends were up to in the (socially appropriate) distance. But just like the city, we’re a resilient bunch! This is evident in the surge of creative projects that have been born during this time (Tonemill included), and today we’re introducing you to a fellow quarantine baby brought into existence by Mike Stanz: the new rock band named Age Race Gender.
This Long Island collective sounds less like a garage band and more like a well produced indie-band on their latest single “Recorded”. The song is a fast paced feel-good rock track giving the Tonemamas flashbacks to that sweet time about ten to fifteen years ago when bands Franz Ferdinand and Kaizer Chief headlined all the festivals. Also, they are excellent arrangers (shout-out to this underappreciated skill!). The busy drums, simple guitar riffs and bass line compliment each other fantastically. Every musical element has its place where it has room to thrive – well done, fellow quarantine baby!
Something worth noting – our featured musicians are a group born in a socially distant world and therefore have not yet had the opportunity to play a live show yet! We all know it’s every NYC hipster’s dream to be an ‘original groupie’ of any band (“I was there before they got famous, guys”), so take your chance, follow this band and be there when they make their live debut in the next few months!
Listen for: 0:53: LOVE that guitar riff with the drum fill!
Best listened to: When you’re at a party and want to show your friends something new that’ll undoubtedly set a good mood!
If Peter Pan was remade in 2020 as a movie about him as a relatable nervous teenager trying to survive high school while navigating the treacherous landscape of first love, Roselina Albino’s song “Movie Star” would be the perfect soundtrack. This comes as no surprise as the NYC/LA-based writer and performer describes her indie-pop single as a tribute to her “love for Peter Pan and finding your inner child”.
The subtle references to James Newton Howard’s fantastical score in Roselina’s dream pop soundscape are hard to miss. What’s equally striking is Roselina’s voice – there is both a youthfulness and deep maturity evident in her tone. This notion of musical duality is a theme that seems to be recurrent in her music, as shown in the lyrics and the track’s overall mood. The lyrics have a sense of time-worn introspection while also feeling like they could be the naïve utterings of a pair of lovesick teenagers who are sprawled together on a bedroom floor lying beneath a canopy of fairy lights on a Friday evening.
“But we never did, we never did see/ All the kings and queens, all the kings and queens we’d be,” Roselina croons with her Lana Del Ray-esque rich voice. This track makes us miss the toy crowns we used to play with while also wondering if we ever found our crowns in this adult life (too deep? She started it…).
Overall, “Movie Star” made for a great listening experience for your Tonemamas who found themselves both happy for the future while also nostalgic for the innocence of adolescence (we’re just emotional this week…we wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school… we wish we could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…#thatwasameangirlsreference).
Best listened to: Anywhere with fairy lights. Doesn’t matter if it’s in your bedroom, in a bar, in the subway (might be weird to take fairy lights with you there, though) – just have fairy lights while listening.
Listen for this moment: 2:32 when the bridge surprises us with unexpected harmony changes driving the track deeper into it’s beautiful world of melancholy and magic.
Dearest Tonemillers, we get it. As much as you’ve enjoyed enriching yourselves with our interviews speaking with interesting individuals ranging from beatboxers to music documentary makers, you’re currently still unemployed. “Tonemamas, we need career advice!” you’re yelling at us from your screens. We heard you, and so we’re inviting you to get out of your leisure wear and instead don a business suit as we tell you straight up how to get your music placed in TV and movies with Pamela Pagano, head of OML sync and Over the View Radio.
Wearing your blazer with 80’s shoulder pads? Us too. Now let’s dive straight in:
Pamela’s tips for Tonemillers: When Submitting Music…
Make your submission as readable as possible: Don’t send a bunch of songs, it’s so confusing! And don’t send a lot of different links or files – make it easy and send the right music.
Don’t send demos: Whoever’s receiving your track wants to listen to the final version. Don’t attach an explanation with your track, people don’t have that kind of patience.
Don’t expect them to listen for a specific moment: By 10-20 seconds into the track I have already determined the mood, style, and if it’s a good production and so on.
Don’t send too long songs: For this purpose, send the radio edit.
Make sure you have all the right material: It’s important to have an instrumental version of the song, because sometimes that’s all that’s needed for a scene. Also make sure to have the lyrics in case the music supervisor is looking for specific lyrical content.
Have your affairs in order: Make sure to have all your songs registered with a PRO.
Know that you’re submitting to a publisher. (Ehrmm, okey, this one seemed a little obvious, but maybe the Tonemamas are just geniuses… oh well.)
Alright Tonemillers, take a screenshot and let’s continue. Moving on to the next important question: “What are you actually looking for when signing an artist? Is there anything specific that can make it or break it?” Cue another well-organized, delightfully numbered list!
Pamela’s tips for Tonemillers: General Advice
Do your research: As I’m a small boutique company, I am style-focused. All my artists are in the electro-pop sphere. If you’re a big publisher you can have a big library with lots of genres – that doesn’t work for OML sync. So do your research before submitting.
Social Media followers and streaming numbers: From the publishing side, numbers are not important. From the business side, labels want to see numbers. Conclusion: Know what you’re after and strategize accordingly.
Image: The image of the artist is very important, it needs to be interesting and fit with the style.
Photo/cover art: If I don’t like the photo, or don’t think it fits the music, it can be a dealbreaker for me. It tells me something about the artist’s taste if the photo completely doesn’t match the music.
We hope you’re paying attention Tonemillers! These are some goodies. Now a question for all the self-published independent artists out there: “Is it worth it getting a publisher?” Pamela’s answer is a loud and clear YES:
Pamela’s tips for Tonemillers: Why You Should Work With a Publisher
Focus on your music: If you want to be an artist, you need to focus on creating your music, you can’t spend all the time it takes to manage yourself – there are professionals that can do this for you.
You’re not losing money:A lot of artists are afraid of giving up part of their intellectual property or rights and so on but it’s not true. They can literally have someone who is working for free that is actually just working on pushing your song. And you still get paid the composer part when opportunities arise, an income stream that most likely wouldn’t have appeared if it wasn’t for the publisher.
We’re not all the same:There are so many different ways to work among the sync agencies and publishers around the world, so again- do your research and know who you’re potentially working with.
Now you’re probably thinking,“Who is this Pamela Pagano and why is she giving such good advice?” Pamela laughs and rolls her eyes: “Well where to begin? It’s a pretty long story!” It is a long story, so let us give you the quick version of the Italian’s professional life: Daughter of a choreographer, started a career as a dancer when only 18 years old, spent 15 years on tour in Italy in musical theater and on TV. (That’s quite a rich summary!) “This is where I learnt discipline, as a dancer you have to have strength in body and mind. It has taught me alot about my current work”, she speaks of her background.
After this period in her life she released a few albums as a singer in an electro-pop band and then decided to stop being a performer but work behind the scene and founding her own record label.
“My work as a performer has been very important to me, because I can understand the artist and trust my intuition about who’s in front of me and whether I should move on with the project or not.”
Eventually Pamela packed her bag and moved to London where she’s currently residing. Here she has started her own publishing company specialized in sync; OML Sync. OML is what Pamla describes as a boutique company – a small and personal company. But don’t be mistaken by the size of the company, Pamela collaborates with some major players, she’s currently on the BMG sync team and has placed her music in a lot of TV series for the 2021 season. “My mission is to highlight interesting artists from all over the world!”
Any last advice Pamela has for Tonemillers?
“Never give up! You can change your point of view and do more than you think. We’re currently living in a fast-changing world so don’t be so stuck on a narrow path of one thing – branch out! Develop yourself and develop other opportunities and say yes to the chances life offers. I didn’t know at the beginning of my career as a dancer that I’d be working as a publisher.”
If you want to contact Pamela for sync opportunities or radio, or simply check her out you can do that through instagram: @overviewisontheradio@omlsync