Making Hollywood hits in Birmingham
When Meldra Guza and Jonny Amos met in LA back in 2013, it was love at first sight. “We had known about each other since 2009 but only started to work together in summer 2013,” Meldra told BQ.”
“Later that year we met in Los Angeles at a songwriter convention and literally it was love at first sight. It wasn’t until February 2014 though that Jonny came clean to me about his feelings during a song writing collaboration in the UK.
“The next day I had to travel back to LA and having that distance between us made us realise how much we needed each other. In July of 2014 I left LA and moved to Birmingham. Later that year we got engaged and in the summer of 2016 we got married."
The pair both had a wealth of experience in the music industry. Jonny is a songwriter, producer and A&R consultant with almost 20 years’ experience in the music industry.
Like many, Jonny started out as an artist who learned the pitfalls of the industry in some of the hardest ways possible and yet remains one of the most positive people you could wish to meet.
Despite a top 10 hit in Australia as a solo act and a 3-year stint in the award-winning UK rock group Red Star Rebels, Jonny never landed “that big deal” he’d always hoped for as an artist.
However, he found his calling once he’d evolved into a pop writer/producer and quickly gained placements for his songs in countries such as the USA, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Japan, Latvia and Malaysia.
Meldra on the other hand was a well-known recording artist in her native Latvia since the age of 14. Having been a teen sensation and a Song Contest star that went on to achieve further success in her twenties, Meldra acquired a great deal of knowledge in relation to the music business.
She then went on to transfer her knowledge into other areas of the music industry and began song writing which took her to LA. During her time in the States, she successfully placed many of her songs into US Film and TV during her two-year stint.
However, when the duo met during their brief spell in the UK, the pair knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together and started to map out their future. This led to the launch of their own business, The Songlab.
Meldra says: “The SongLab was an idea we'd had for a while and it was a business which we started off at home before setting up our own premises in the Jewellery Quarter. We decided to set up a multipurpose song company that can serve various sectors and various territories.
“We now work internationally with professional songwriters and other music companies supplying songs and production for the industry. This takes us to international conventions and international songwriting camps. We work with songwriters and music companies all over the world and provide songs and music production for various territories.
“We are also involved in developing new artists as we run two free music making projects for young musicians. One of them is a government funded FE (Further Education) course for songwriters, singers and instrumentalists aged 16-19 and the other project is funded by Youth Music and is for anyone interested in developing their music and songwriting skills aged 13-19 without prior experience in music.
“This is a great place for us to be at as we can offer a young inexperienced music enthusiast a chance to work and create with industry professionals and using the same gear that is used to create chart topping songs.
“This significantly improves the quality and experience for the young people. We also run business sessions and help young people decide which paths to go down in the music industry. We are passionate about bridging the gap between the music industry and music education.”
Their goal from the start was to work with artists and production companies from across the globe, so you may be wondering, why Birmingham? But for Meldra and Jonny, the decision to set up shop in the UK’s second city was an easy one.
“We love Birmingham,” Meldra adds, “this is a great city to live in and to run a business. A lot of our business is run internationally, so we work remotely. When deciding which country to live in, we felt that being in Europe in the long term will work better for us because we are closer to our families.
“Also, the UK is an absolutely fantastic location from an international perspective. On the same working day, we can do business with USA and Japan, the geographical location of where we are is incredibly appealing.
“On a national scale, we are only an hour, two away from a lot of places which makes us more accessible for a lot of our clients. Birmingham puts us slap bang in the centre of Britain.”
So, just how has the company grown since its launch back in September 2014? Meldra adds: “When we launched the company we didn’t even have our own office premises, so as we developed the company, we also found our premises in the Jewellery Quarter and that has attracted even more business as we can welcome a lot of people to our studio for business workshops.
“Also, a lot of our educational partners are organisations that have approached us to find ways of working with us as opposed to us pitching to them for business. In addition to our collective work for the SongLab we both still travel the world songwriting, speaking and performing, which adds more value to our work inhouse at The SongLab and it also widens our network of people that we engage with.”
And their plans for the future? Meldra concludes: “We have recently established a new partnership with a company in the USA and will be working together to provide pop production to a wider consumer base. On the educational side of our business, we are starting recruitment for the educational projects that we run, so as always it is very busy here at the SongLab.”
Meldra’s three tips for aspiring entrepreneurs:
- Consult with professionals and get help when setting up the company, creating trademarks, sorting out accounts. Whilst there is a lot of enthusiasm to get started, it is incredibly important to ensure that all the company related documentation is created perfectly.
- Be prepared to evolve constantly and keep on learning and developing your own skills, for the company to evolve, we also have to continuously learn; especially if your product and environment is constantly changing as it is in music business.
- Plan and create strategic partnerships, it is great to create new business models and work with other companies and organisations.
- But most of all think with the objective mind, not the ego. That’s when good decisions are made.
Published: 10 May 2017