Catching Up With Tom Paul
This week I decided to present a new perspective of the music industry by interviewing a music journalist. I chose Tom Paul, a staff writer for SoulTracks, one of the leading online magazines for soul music. SoulTracks features artist biographies, the latest music news and album reviews. Tom also has experience as a musician, as he graduated from the Berklee College of Music with degrees in songwriting and voice. He is currently putting that experience to use as he works on his solo project. (The picture to the left is from his performance at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar in NYC)
It didn’t take me long to realize that Tom really does support good music. He is very well-connected to the indie music scene through his work as a sponsor for Nu Soul Saturday’s at Frank’s Lounge in Brooklyn. The show is run by George Littlejohn, Kevin Harewood and Fiona Bloom and features up and coming artists through listening parties and live showcases. Tom says he landed that opportunity after a long period of relentless free PR efforts. He added that it’s necessary to spread the word about good music because it can be a healer in good and bad times.
Here’s what Tom shared about his upcoming solo music project, the independent music industry, and what fans should know about the music business:
Mimi Soul: Could you tell us more about your current projects?
Tom Paul: I am currently finishing up my solo project called “Never In My Lifetime” at SuprDupr Sound in Brooklyn. This album will have all live musicians and I am in the final stages of completing it.
Mimi Soul: How has being a journalist for SoulTracks influenced your work as a songwriter and producer?
Tom Paul: Being a journalist after I was a songwriter and producer for many years taught me how others see their “vision” of music through their eyes and mind. That has helped me step outside the box when working on my own projects to recall how other artists use their songwriting and producing tools to work.
Mimi Soul: What’s something that you think few fans know about the music business?
Tom Paul: I think the most difficult thing people forget is that whatever you see costs a lot of money to put together. Now that most artists are independent, these financial matters rest on their own shoulders. Most people think that you can just record your tracks at a home studio and release that to the masses. But, the expensive parts of art work, mastering and packaging your project costs a lot. Then, once all of that is together, you need to get the promotion and marketing people involved, which takes up a lot more time and research to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
Mimi Soul: I did a discussion post about my Can’t Do Without list. What are some of your all-time favorite albums?
Tom Paul: Wow, I listen to such diverse types of music so it would be difficult to pinpoint. Off the top of my head, I’d have to say Donny Hathaway – Live, Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key of Life, Prince – Sign of the Times, John Coltrane – Ballads, and Steely Dan – Aja to name a few. There would be hundreds more to pick and choose from.
Mimi Soul: What are your thoughts about the future of the independent music industry?
Tom Paul: Independent music is definitely here to stay. There is no way for the major labels to make any money except being the facilitator for distribution, licensing and music publishing from working their back catalogue.
Today’s indie artists must get their music out and not think about what other artists are doing and how they sound. Believe in your sound and make that your focal point in your live performances. People will believe in what they see and what they hear and if that draws the fans in, then you are marketing yourself honestly and people will buy that.
Thanks Tom for a great interview! His new website will be launched soon. In the meantime, be sure to follow him on MySpace.