15 Jun, 2016
Two of the most important elements of achieving success as a music producer are the love and respect of the art form. However, this is not the only path to prosperity, as some of the most prolific producers also have an understanding and appreciation for sound engineering. These are but a few of the many facets, which make up the musical enigma that is Mark Cyrus.
With a career spanning nearly two decades, Mark’s music industry pursuits began in the United Kingdom (UK), where he completed training in audio and acoustics engineering with the London School of Audio Engineering and the University of North London. However, his heart always remained with his homeland.
“In 1990, after graduation, I started working at a music studio in London. My skillset grew as a producer and songwriter over time; but what I really wanted, was to work to develop the artistes at home.”
Home for Mark is St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and in 2000 he returned there with a mission to contribute to enhancing the country’s local talent and the industry’s infrastructure. Two years later, The Master Room Studios was born. Another motivating factor for the company’s Chief Executive Officer was what he described as the “natural unharnessed talent” that existed within the country.
“From time to time, I would travel back home, and I had the opportunity to hear a few local singers. It was then that I realised that there was tremendous potential among these artistes that was virtually untapped. I was really impressed and knew for certain that there was a viable business to pursue by opening a studio.”
During the early days of the studio, Mark concentrated on the production of songs for the local and regional Carnival market. Today however, Master Room produces songs for local, regional and international consumption.
In addition to music recording and song writing, Master Room also undertakes commercial work in the form of jingles, and voiceovers with a team of three persons full time, and as much as 12 on a seasonal basis. Some of the company’s main clients are local corporate firms, but in the international arena, Mark works with C2W Music Publishing Ltd, where he also has the opportunity to participate in numerous song writing and production camps.
“I signed a five-year publishing deal with C2W Music, which has allowed me to collaborate with internationally established songwriters and producers, thereby expanding my reach into new markets, namely the UK and North America”.
“Two of the biggest challenges that are still prevalent today are the lack of education and awareness about the music business, and the absence of infrastructure within the industry, particularly as it relates to copyright laws to promote and protect the sector”.
He added that many people still see the industry as a hobby and as such many artistes do not take the steps involved in protecting their craft. In his attempts to address this issue, the music exec began organising and delivering public awareness workshops for musicians, and artistes on the importance of taking these steps. Mark has also further supported the sector by sitting on an Advisory Committee for the establishment of the Copyright Act for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as on the steering committee for the establishment of the Eastern Caribbean Copyright Organisation (ECCO) within the country.
In the next step of his quest, Mark began looking for opportunities to enhance his own capacity to help develop his local sector. During this period, he began his engagement with the Caribbean Export Development Agency, which led to his company benefiting from both financial and technical assistance from the Agency.
“We were awarded an Accelerated Grant in 2012 from Caribbean Export under the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme, but we were not able to implement the project. However, I still see it as a good sign that once we are in a position to take up the funds the next attempt would be successful”.
In terms of technical assistance, Mark participated in the OECS-FCOR Trade Mission to Martinique and Guadeloupe in 2014, and the 3rd CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum in Jamaica in 2015.
“Both these initiatives were very well organised and provided an opportunity for me to see the potential for expansion into different markets through networking and exchange of experiences. The Business Forum in particular, allowed me to interact with my African counterparts, and gain new insight into how they have grown their local industry”.
He believes that Caribbean Export has a good strategy for getting regional firms within the music industry exposed to new markets. However, his own approach is centred on calibre, competitiveness and culture.
“High quality products and services, work that is competitive in terms of price and offering, and playing on the Caribbean brand has worked well in my favour, particularly the latter. It is no coincidence that some of the most successful artistes are from the region. We need to own what is ours and use this to brand everything we produce in this industry.”
Future plans for Master Room involve successfully signing the company’s artistes to major international record labels and seeing them undertaking international tours. In fact, a part of this goal is being pursued in the short term
“Right now we are working on getting some of our artistes signed in Europe, so in another one to two years this should be attainable.”
In his advice to aspiring producers and other industry professionals, Mark emphasises the importance of collaboration and strategic partnerships.
“One of the keys to success is collaboration. Learning from and working with persons who are experts in this field is critical to building your own capacity. Further, taking advantage of opportunities such as trade shows, seminars, study tours and forums is one of the best ways to meet these individuals”.
What sets Master Room apart from its competitors is not just the wide of array of services the company offers to various clients, but also the emphasis that is placed on sustainability within the industry. With this, Mark has hit the right notes in his musical journey and he is sure to continue.
Master Room Studios on YouTube