The changing face of the music business

The days of bands needing to be signed by major record label to be successful are a thing of the past. Modern times call for modern measures and bands these days are turning to big television shows and commercials to play their songs. Getting on Grey's Anatomy or an iPhone commercial will get your music noticed by 14 year old girls and grandmothers alike. Mitch Davis of Orba Squara did just that.

It’s not as simple as calling up Patrick Dempsy or Steve Jobbs and pitching your music. Who is Orba Squara, anyway? Music aside, put on your business goggles and notice this guy’s fresh ideas. Check out his unique website at OrbaSquara.com, and find a side-scrolling adventure: his recent tour across America promoting his new album, The Trouble with Flying. Oh, he’s got mystery and intrigue – in both his character and music. “I’ve always been a fan of the mysterious persona, the Daft Punks of the world,” He says. “You don’t know what it is – is it one guy doing it, is it ten guys doing it, is it a computer...?”

Mitch isn’t just a multi-talented musician, he's developed a ton of other music industry talents over the years. He's done film scores, MIDI programming and music production. “That’s when I really started to do things on a more professional basis”, he recalls. “The things that you think are so insignificant turn out to be the things that really move you ahead.”                           

But let's get to that iPhone deal, where one can assume Mitch got his big break. “I had like,  five other songs licensed before that one. The iPhone was the highest profile – anything Apple gets noticed. But I had songs for Goodyear and CSI: New York.” Mitch set himself up to have his music work for him.

Having a publishing agreement with Universal helps. “I didn’t really seek that out either. I [started] getting things licensed [without them] and we just kinda found each other through that.” He developed business and technical skills, and it snowballed from there. “I didn’t send Universal anything.” He dodged that whole mess of putting together demos and press kits and wound up being Mr. iPhone. “[publishers from Universal] were just running in the same circles as me. They didn’t even pitch my song for the iPhone, it was there [at Apple] for something else.”

He doesn’t pretend that luck isn’t a huge factor. “You can’t really try to decide what’s going to happen and have control over it. You have to be good at what you do, but after that, it’s all luck basically. You could be amazing but if you just don’t talk to the right person at the right time, a second too early, a second too late, it’s just not gonna happen.” 

The method of “breaking” as a band has definitely changed since the legendary rock and roll days. There are factors besides the elusive and sometimes constrictive major record deal. “It’s totally true, the old model isn’t as important now. There are so many other ways to make things happen. Making music is a full time job, it’s a lot of work doing promotion, keeping up the website, trying to book shows. It’s good to assemble people around you that help you with things you can’t do, or don’t have time for.”

//Shaun Mcpherson

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