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MNZ Interview: Cross Section S01 / E02 - Tom Broome

24 Apr 2023 // An interview by Shannon Coulomb

Aiming to dissect the cross section between the creative process and the industry side, Cross Section is an exciting brand-new interview series hosted by Shannon Coulomb (Swerve City / Impostor Syndrome).

Our second interview is with drumming extraordinaire Tom Broome, who has toured and performed with the cream of the crop of Kiwi musicians (Tami Neilson, Hollie Smith, Home Brew and Julia Deans to name a few). Tom is also a teacher and a successful producer/mixing engineer, operating out of his own recording studio in New Lynn, Auckland. 

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What does your creative process look like?

Different every time depending on my role. If it’s for my own music, it’s completely haphazard and just whenever I can make time between other projects. I’ve made sure that I do pay more attention when inspiration strikes, if I think of some lyrics or a melody, I make sure to document it and if possible sit down an instrument and follow the idea to completion, or as far as I can take it. 

Do you apply the same creative processes to other aspects of the Music Industry, for example, in your approach to marketing yourself?

For the majority of my roles in the industry (session player, producer, engineer) the main generator of work for me has always been word of mouth. For a prospective client, an endorsement from another artist with nothing to gain from it, is a stronger marketing tool than any direct marketing I could do. That said, I make sure that when someone comes looking, the info they’re looking for is easy to find. I have a pretty comprehensive website; I keep my discography up to date and I share work I’m proud of on my social media. Obviously, the key with all of this is doing good work and having good relationships with the people I work with.

Is your creative process something you feel to have locked down or does it generally change on a song by song/release by release basis?

As I mentioned before, I wear a lot of different hats, so it’s always different. When my role is to create something, it can take me ages to finish songs, or it might come all at once. If I’m writing with other people, that process depends on both of us. It can be all done in a day and then refined, or it’s back and forth and in and out of sessions for months. The main thing I I’m trying to pay attention to is that whatever I’m working on meets a certain standard of being artistically satisfying before it’s out into the world. Each time it’s a paradox of critiquing without being too critical, and giving your whole heart to making something, but somehow maintaining the detachment to throw out the things that aren’t working. 

What qualities do you appreciate the most in other musicians?

I’m thinking of working in the studio specifically: self-awareness, reliability, kindness, focus, passion, having a distinct musical voice.

If you could collaborate with another NZ musician/band, who would it be?

That is a very long list, I’m a fan of so many people I haven’t worked with. I'm lucky to have worked with a lot of my favourite musicians here, but some people I’m a huge fan who I haven’t worked with are: Marlon Williams, Tiny Ruins, Anna Coddington, Ladi6, Aldous Harding, UMO, Sheep, Dog & Wolf, Voom, Nadia Reid, Lawrence Arabia, Lydia Cole, Jazmine Mary, Vera Allen, I could go for a long time here haha.

How do you keep an eye to the future in regards to your work and work ethic? Do you generally focus on just the project at hand or are you considering how it fits into a larger plan? 

It’s so hard to have specific plans in the music industry, because so much relies on other people's plans, and things are always changing/dates are always moving. I try not to get too obsessed over specific goals, but I try and put everything I have into each project. In regards to my studio and goals there, it’s a bit easier to have longer term goals. My friend Ben (owner of K Drums who I share the studio building with) and I have lots of conversations about the next studio premises and things like that.

Where have you had the most success in terms of marketing to the Aotearoa audience? If applicable, has this translated well to an international market?

This one is different for me, because as a predominantly sideman/producer, I’m actually marketing to other musicians. The best advertising is always word of mouth in that area, so just trying to keep doing good work and leave each client on great terms. 

There are so many resources available to musicians in Aotearoa, such as muzic.net.nz , Music Managers Forum Aotearoa (MMF) and APRA/AMCOS. Have any of these (or other) NZ resources played a significant role in your journey so far?

MMF was an amazing resource for me when I was self-managing bands. I have a few mentors that have taught me heaps, particularly Lorraine Barry has been really generous with helping me to understand how the ‘back end’ of the business works and how to frame management and label support from an artist's perspective.

Has having access to these resources led to any break-through moments for you, particularly in regards to crafting a successful narrative in your online presence?

Nothing specific, but more in helping to form a view of how things broadly work. I know lots of artists get frustrated trying to cut through online, and I think to be honest the best way to build genuine listenership, is to get out and play shows and build a ‘real world’ audience. Labels, managers, blog sites, streaming platforms etc are looking for artists who are already ‘winning’. They’re able to help to push your music further, but you ultimately have to have begun built a following who are excited about your music and shows and are invested in you, who aren’t just your friends and family (although their support is obviously so important!).

Are there any resources that you would recommend to NZ musicians who are coming to terms with the business side of the craft? 

MMF for sure! Take full advantage of that, there are amazing mentoring programmes. And the music commission internship programme.

LINKS

Tom Broome:

Studio / Drums / Discography

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Shannon Coulomb is the co-songwriter, guitarist and producer for Auckland Based band Impostor Syndrome. He also plays bass for Swerve City and is currently the Head of Music at Birkenhead College, Auckland, as well as a tutor for Music Education at AUT University.

Impostor Syndrome:
Facebook

Stream Impostor Syndrome

Swerve City:
Facebook
Spotify

 

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