Interview: Laura Monaco-Martino gives an inside look at her music business career
Meet Emerging Talent CEO Laura Monaco-Martino, as she gives an inside look at her music business career and gives advice about vocal coaching, how music can heal, and more!
About She’s So Reel Podcast
AJ Joyce is a digital creator with a background in fun movie reviews, film enthusiasm, and girl power advocacy. She's obsessed with creating a space for talented women. In her podcast She’s So Reel, AJ chats with multi-faceted women in the film and entertainment industry who believe in diversity and inclusion through their work and the media.
About Laura Monaco-Martino
Laura-Monaco Martino is an artist, songwriter, certified music business professional and vocal style specialist from Berklee College music. She has shared the stage with Lady Gaga, Lana del Rey, and many more. Her songwriting catalog contains 300 songs in various genres with placements on networks such as Keeping up with the Kardashians, America's Got Talent, the Hallmark Channel, Bad Girls Club, and more. When she transitioned from vocal coaching into entrepreneurship, Laura launched Emerging Talent brands which include: ET Studio Productions (a music production in publishing company specializing in songwriting production recording mixing vocal coaching piano and guitar lessons acting and artist development), and ET Labz (an integrated educational experience designed to further enhance each individual's learning capacity for kids).
Q & A
Q: How does it feel? (Having 3 companies and being successful)
I’m very grateful. I wake up every morning and I just thank God for my blessings. I am very grateful that I’m able to do what I love every single day. You know nothing comes without a challenge, and it definitely helps that I have a partner in this journey, but it comes with challenges. It’s not easy to own two businesses with your partner. I believe you are only as big as your team. I would be lying if I said that only me and my husband did this. I’ve learned a lot, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes. The fact that we’re now able to do it and make a difference in young artists and young creators is all I can ask for.
Q: What is the most important advice you give your artist? Especially when you’re developing them for these big shows such as American Idol, or the voice, etc.
First of all, I think that being an artist means being a human. I think that being vulnerable as a human being is something that not a very high percent of artists can do. When you say someone has the ‘it’ factor, it’s because they’ve allowed themselves to be vulnerable; they’ve allowed themselves to be human. I say listen, you are putting yourself out there in the media you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. You have to know what you are as an artist, you have to be a people person, you have to learn how to collaborate even with people that you don't want to collaborate with and you know you may be perceived in a way that you may not want to be perceived, so are you willing to do all that. The thing I always tell the artist is just remember what you've learned and forget it at the same time. I don't want you to sit and do your performance and just think about am I hitting that note right. Once you're on the stage and once you’re at your audition, just think about the emotion because your muscles will already remember the technical stuff. So patience, awareness, and emotion are important to advance in this career.
Q: Do you guys do any coaching on preparing them for kinds of things such as what deals to expect if you get a record label, or these are the record execs you should know, etc. Is there any coaching for that? Because that can be difficult to navigate
Yes. That’s kind of what artist development is, it’s like let’s develop you as an artist. I’ve read many contracts in my life so I’m familiar with the process. I have been behind the scenes and on the scenes as an artist. The best education is experience. You can read a lot of books about the music industry– All you need to know about the music business by Donald Passman is a book that I always recommend for artists to read. So any artists that are listening, get that book and read it. It’s great to be familiar with the terminology and lingo, but definitely attending networking events and collaborating with other like-minded artists is a huge thing. I believe in surrounding yourself with people who are just as, or more experienced than you. It’s like having a conversation with the elderly, for example. If you really listen you will learn. We are definitely a company that can help navigate that if they get presented a contract or get presented an opportunity. I’m very real with my artists and I always say, “listen I want you to learn your business. I know you want to be creative and make your music and sing, but I think it's important that you understand your business.”
Q: What is your favorite part when you are helping someone figure out their art/their music?
I think my favorite part is the discovery– the aha moment when they’re like “yes this is what I sound like, I don’t have to try as hard as I think, I can be honest, and I just have to accept that half the world may love me, and half the world may not,” and that’s it. You just set out on your mission, and your passion will ultimately lead you to what you’re destined to do. Seeing that unfold, seeing them realize this, and evolve, taking that with them, and continuing in that mindset for the remainder of their career is the most beautiful thing for me to see.
Q: What have been your biggest takeaways from doing ET Studio Productions as a female entrepreneur? How have you applied that to launching ET Labz?
Being an entrepreneur is something that I became passionate about later in life. I realized, wait a minute– this is not right. The entertainment industry is filled with a lot of male producers, male musicians, male executives. What’s happening? Is it because they aren’t listening to us, is it because women are viewed as weak, what’s the reason? I think the go-getter, passionate mindset has driven me to set this path for me. Starting your own business is freeing in a way because you don't have to report to any boss, you're your own boss. Figuring out how to become an entrepreneur in a very noisy world— the challenge with that is how do I set myself apart, and how do I get myself heard when I can’t even get through the door. I wanted to learn this business as best as I can, so I understood these business conversations. Confidence is everything. Once I start to have confidence and let go and realize keep doing what you’re doing and set out on your mission, eventually people are going to come to you. So I think that my biggest takeaway is realizing that I don't have to try to chase the dream, I just have to live it and be an example.
Q: What was the process behind creating ET Labz?
ET Labz is always something I had the heart for but didn’t know what it looked like. In the special needs community in New York, there’s a lot of help that special needs children get. They look for community classes and their voices want to be heard. I think that creative arts, and exploring what makes an individual’s heart happy, is something that I feel very passionately about, and expressing yourself. Since ET Studio Productions is more of a professional, music-based/audition-based company, I wanted to do something that kind of set that apart. I wanted something that could also offer educational community classes. These kids come out of school, they want to take an art class, do yoga and meditation, they want to learn how to dance and exercise, they want to take their beginner music classes, take leadership programs, they want to learn these things— how can we do that? It’s been challenging but also very rewarding because I feel like we’re tapping into a completely different community, and we’re really changing lives in the process, and helping these children keep themselves active, which has been super helpful and necessary now.
Q: How has music healed you?
It’s helped me through many things in my life. When I was younger I would just sit in my room with headphones, listen to Mariah and Whitney, and just sing my heart out on the top of my lungs. I would sit and try to listen to the words, and I would try to connect to the pain and the stories to try to get through it. In times of Covid, I have to tell you, I have never listened to so much country music and worship music in my life. There’s a song from Celine Dion, ironically when I went to see her in February, it was the beginning of Covid. The name of her song was Courage. I found myself remembering that song out of all the songs in the album. Who knew in these last six months we would all need to survive off of courage. That song in specific has new meaning to me when I sing it. I think that when an individual is able to find that song that speaks to them, sing it. Whether you can sing or not, just sing it.
Q: What is the best advice you could give to someone who wants to start becoming an artist?
If you want to be an artist who has something to say, I want you to start getting comfortable with being who you are, I want you to practice being vulnerable, I want you to start practicing being brave. I want you to start writing a letter to yourself every day–your old, present, and future self, and you’ll start uncovering layers you didn’t know existed. I want you to spend time with nature and think, and really connect and pay attention to the feeling you want.You have to listen carefully. Listen to conversations of people at the bus stop, at the train station, listen to what people are saying; take it and put it inside of you. Listen to what the universe, the world, and God is putting in your heart. Don’t be so hard on yourself if you're having a hard time figuring it out. That’s going to happen a lot and you’re going to keep blossoming throughout your life and journey. It’s going to keep changing and you have to look forward to the evolution and embrace it.
Q: Are there any other new programs coming out of ET Labz and ET Studio Productions that we should know about?
Although we have been developing and cultivating in helping grow the voice and needs, we didn't have a department that was helping to actually teach artists how to submit blogs, get some PR, and get some podcast features. So I think that's something that's gonna be really exciting and really great because a lot of times an artist has to outsource so many different people and it becomes really expensive. We are building an in-house team that is growing larger; they’re learning every day, they’re eager. I’m really excited to be launching the promotions, marketing, and strategy/organizational part of being an artist and putting yourself out there.
ET Labz is going to have this amazing leadership program, which is basically college readiness, financial 101, bank literacy, sexual health. We’re opening up this great workshop that I think can really change lives, because you’re not taught that in school. Especially in high school. In high school, I don’t even think I knew how to write a check. So learning all of that stuff, learning how to speak in a business setting, learning how to write a resume and build yourself up and have that confidence. So I’m really excited about the leadership program that’s about to launch.
More about ET Studio Productions for aspiring artists
If you are an individual who is an aspiring artist and wants to pursue a career in the music industry, ET Studio Productions is a great place to start your career and get a feel of what the music business is all about. ET Studio Productions has numerous classes to choose from, ranging in levels from beginner to advanced, including Recording, Pre-production and songwriting, Mixing, Vocal & Artist development/Vocal Coaching, Acting, Piano, and Guitar!
Laura and her team are amazing professionals with relevant experience and knowledge to help anyone start in the music industry and figure out their path as an artist. As Laura puts it “We’re always working with great talent every day, different styles of music– and we’d love to hear from you.”