By ROB DUGUAY Every musician is always looking for that next step to take in their career. They could be looking for the ideal recording studio to make their first album, to have more of a presence on social media, or perhaps they need help booking a gig
Every musician is always looking for that next step to take in their career. They could be looking for the ideal recording studio to make their first album, to have more of a presence on social media, or perhaps they need help booking a gig in a world without COVID-19.
Fortunately for local acts in Rhode Island, there is an organization that can meet those needs. Based in Cranston, Pitch & Prose functions as a record label, recording studio and collaborative workshop. It’s an ideal entity for anyone who is involved in music and is looking to grow in a creative sense.
I recently had a talk with founder and director Matt Maggiacomo about what made him want to start this unique business, forming a roster for the record label, running workshops and looking to be more active in the local scene.
ROB DUGUAY: What inspired you to start Pitch & Prose?
MATT MAGGIACOMO: Originally it started off as a consulting firm kind of in the nonprofit world while also working with some creative clients. Over time I kind of realized that my heart wasn’t really in it. I had a band that played covers and Jay Ferguson, who was my bandmate, is a producer, and we started talking about this idea of running a recording studio. A couple of my clients were musicians, and over the course of some campfire chats during the summer we started talking about what we really wanted to do. We came up with this idea of building Pitch & Prose from being a consulting firm into more of a music-centric business. After two months of discussion, we came out on the other end feeling like going with what we’re most passionate about, which is starting a recording studio and a record label while taking all of that consulting energy and putting it into helping musicians.
RD: So far the label’s roster includes Providence alternative rock act Heather Rose In Clover, Boston singer-songwriter Prateek and Brian Ross from the wizard rock band Draco & The Malfoys, among others. How have you gone about getting these acts involved? Do you have a certain criteria or are they all just friends of yours?
MM: It’s kind of a mixture of all that. Everyone that we’ve signed to the label so far is either somebody we know pretty well and feel comfortable working with or they’re somebody who is in our extended network. Mostly what we’re looking for is people who share our values in terms of the music community, skill sharing and a non-competitive approach that ends up being more collaborative. We’re also looking for unique voices and people who are doing something that stands on its own while not being a carbon copy of what the music industry is putting out. We’re trying to work with nice people who have strong values and something interesting to offer.
RD: That’s fantastic. When it comes to operating the recording studio, do you have a specialty that you embrace? It seems like the label works with a lot of singer-songwriters, so do you prefer to work with acoustic acts or do you try to be as versatile as possible?
MM: Eventually our goal is to have a broad range of sounds. We’re not trying to be just an indie rock label, a folk label or anything of the sort. We want to work with people who have something unique musically. We all come from the ’90s and we all grew up on alternative rock and punk, so that’s what we know best. Olivia Dolphin, for instance, is one of the first people we started working with, and she primarily plays piano and sings with her music being a cross between Tori Amos and Broadway.
It’s something unique and something different from what we do ourselves. We’re definitely open to working with artists in any genre, and as a producer Jay is really hands-on. He abides by the ’70s model where he’s not just an engineer and he’ll use the studio as an instrument while working with the artist before the tape is rolling to flesh out ideas. He’s really thoughtful of how the music is captured and produced.
RD: Pitch & Prose also has workshops that range from virtual learning to social media advice to marketing and to in-person music classes. You’ve really run the full gamut when it comes to helping a musician out in numerous ways when it comes to getting their music out there and becoming more of a presence. Who runs the workshops, and do you have one that’s more popular than the rest?
MM: Jay and I both run workshops. He runs the ones that revolve around sound production, while I’m on more of the promotion and marketing end of things. So far, it’s been an even split between people who are just beginning to learn about home recording and people who are interested in learning how to use social media. I’m a former touring musician, I was touring full-time from 2007 to 2012, and most of why I was able to do that was building a strong following via social media and using whatever tools I had to connect with people. I broadened my base enough so I could support my touring career, and Jay has been professionally trained as an audio engineer as a parallel pursuit to his music.
We both have these skill sets, so we try to share them. We have a record label with a small budget, so we can only support so many musicians on that level, but we want to make the skills we teach accessible to other musicians who may not be signed to the label but can benefit from the workshops we offer.
RD: 2021 has just started, and we’re all hoping this year is way better than 2020 because it was a total mess. When it comes to Pitch & Prose as a whole, what do you view as a primary goal for this year?
MM : I think the main goal for this year is just to get it to a point where it’s functioning and useful for the artists who work with us. I don’t know how much more expanding we’ll do with the roster this year, but our release calendar has already been filled out through July, so I definitely want to get a few more projects on the board for the second half of the year. We also want to develop and perfect all of the systems that we have in place, everything from the boring stuff like accounting and taxes to more ambitious stuff like expanding our audience for releases our artists are putting out. Getting recognition and being established locally is important to us as well, which is harder to do with the pandemic.
Once venues start to open up and it’s safe for people to gather in public, we want to start to build a presence with local events while partnering with local organizations. We want to spotlight projects, book showcases and do all kinds of things. We have lots of ideas, but with the way things are they’re mostly kind of back-end versus what we’re focused on now.