Laura Monaco-Martino, an artist development mentor and CEO of ET Studio Productions, shares her story of starting in the music industry and getting to where she is today while sharing great advice for aspiring artists from her own experiences.
With experience in the music industry spanning over two decades, a certificate from Berklee College of Music, and a title as CEO of three different companies, Laura Monaco-Martino has excellent knowledge and professionalism. Her songwriting catalog contains 300 songs in various genres with placements on various networks such as Keeping up with the Kardashians, Americas got Talent, Bad Girls Club, and more. Additionally, throughout her career, she has shared the stage with Lady Gaga, Lana del Rey, and numerous other artists. She describes herself as an empath and a truth seeker, who has always had a background in music, but over time discovered her true passion for it. With her creative mind, social and empathetic skills, and business skills, Laura was able to turn her interests and ambitions into a successful career. However, like any other person, she has experienced her share of highs and lows, successes and failures, and learned valuable lessons throughout her journey as an artist, ultimately shaping her into a successful and experienced professional.
Host of the interview, Judy Rodman, is an award-winning vocal coach, producer, singer, and songwriter who has been in the music business and singing country songs since the mid-80s. She has a podcast titled “All things vocal;” in which she shares tips and techniques for singing, speaking on stage, and in the recording studio. In her podcast, Judy Rodman interviews Laura about her success as an artist and entrepreneurship of 3 companies. Together, they discuss their experiences starting as an artist and their journey through the music industry, and additionally, provide tips and tricks for those who are aspiring artists in the music industry.
Laura Monaco-Martino’s beginning: How she started in the music industry
Laura had always had a musical background ever since she was a kid. Growing up with a dad who had a love for music and was in a doo-wop group in the Bronx, NY, she grew up surrounded by music. Laura started singing at a young age and with the support and encouragement from her parents, started taking vocal lessons at 11 years old. Her first vocal teacher was an opera teacher which she credits for her vocal technique abilities now.
Laura was the kind of little girl that always wrote in her diaries; she loved to write. One of her teachers noticed this and encouraged her to try songwriting because of her love and talent for writing. Through songwriting training, Laura was able to later start writing songs for herself and others as well, later performing throughout Manhattan with a band that she was in. Through this journey, Laura says she became fascinated by the performance aspect of music. Her newfound desire was to be able to create her sound and express herself.
Although neither of her parents are entrepreneurs themselves, she credits her talent and success in the business aspect to her empathetic and caring personality. She always felt connected to people, to life, and the world, and felt that she had a mission in life. Yet despite not knowing what that looked like she pursued this journey into the music industry with a deep passion, intense curiosity, and strong will.
Q & A
Q: Tell me a little bit about how the feelings that you've experienced made you stronger by having to go through them?
I teach performance workshops with a small group of students and we go through this process where it's like a sleepover; we just talk about personal things, everything stays behind closed doors. I think that it all comes down to allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and I think being vulnerable is a scary thing for many people. The first thing that we do is have a conversation; we build trust and build the relationship. Once I allowed myself to be vulnerable and let go, that's it, there was no going back. You will always be anxious, that's the other thing I always tell my students: you can’t expect to not be afraid, you're a human being. Anytime I feel anxious, usually, I'll write down my feelings, sing a song, meditate or pray, you know, to clear my mind.
Q: Where do you find that being an empath and a giver, you start giving out and feeling too much empathy and it starts to freeze you and detract from your life and work? What do you do then?
Yea it happens a lot, and now especially during covid. We’re all kind of afraid of the unknown right now. It's frozen me a lot to the point where I just feel like I need to unplug, and just read a book; turn off my phone and get away from social media and just be with my family. It’s exhausting to be creative sometimes when you’re feeling creatively drained and emotionally drained. I listen to Tony Robbins a lot and one of the things he says is “if somebody is in the middle of hysterics, how do you get them out of that hysteric.” He says “if I poured a bucket of water over their head they would be really pissed off now, with something going from being sad to incredibly angry.” I think that the point of him saying that was to get yourself out of that mindset and focus on something else so that you can go back to that thing with a clear mind.
Q: There’s so much competition and perfection that’s taught. I’m hearing definite calls from the public for authenticity. Are you getting that too about authenticity?
Oh, one hundred percent. I tell my students a lot there’s a difference between recording live, recording for a record, performing live, there are different approaches that you need to take for all of them. My husband is a recording engineer for the studio and he really has a great ear for vocals. A lot of the time he will have an artist sing through the entire thing, you know 10 times in a row, and then record it in sections. He will usually keep big chunks of it because the emotion is better you know. I think that that gives the listener a real view. The thing that bothers me a lot is when I hear a singer on the record and you’re like this is so good and then you hear them sing live and you’re like what the heck is going on this is not the same singer.
Laura’s tips and advice for aspiring artists
It all comes down to allowing yourself to be vulnerable
Allowing oneself to be vulnerable and express one’s emotions out loud is a difficulty that many artists face. But bottling up your emotions can prevent one from freely expressing themselves and portraying their true emotions through song. Laura says that once she allowed herself to be vulnerable there was no going back. She assures her students that being anxious and afraid is normal as human beings, and advises them to “be honest about it and embrace it.” As Laura explains, simply talking about any event that happened recently such as a breakup, a dog dying, or an achievement, and expressing those feelings out loud, will allow you to portray real emotions while you are singing and performing in front of an audience. “If you laser focus on each person in the audience like you’re singing to each one of them individually and then focus on your internal emotions, people will be sold.”
Perfection vs Authenticity
Competition and perfection are commonly taught to artists throughout their careers, from college to writing songs for publishing companies. With this strive for perfection, artists may lose their authenticity and originality in their work. Both Laura and Judy point out that many times an artist will sound great when recording for a record, but sound completely different when performing live. To avoid this and embrace authenticity and originality, Laura advises students to find creative ways to change up one song and make it different each time. She highlights an example of a break up to help explain the process of recording and singing a song with authenticity, “In a breakup, you’re going through a cycle of events, so the story needs to go that way too. You’re not interpreting that chorus the same way every time.” Additionally, she pursues this advice for artists covering songs too, “If you are singing a cover song you have to sing it just as good, better, or different. If you are giving me a karaoke version of the same exact song, it is not going to do anything for you artist wise to express your originality.”
Check out the full interview with Laura Monaco-Martino on Judy Rodman’s podcast here,