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Hitting the high note of his career

a year ago

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  • Ryan de Mel on signing with an international record label
From days spent holed up in his bedroom recording music on a borrowed MacBook with free software to signing with an international record label, Ryan de Mel has certainly come a long way in achieving his dreams.  “Every musician's lifelong dream is to get signed – it doesn’t matter whether it’s a big or small label – just getting signed by an international label is a huge deal to me,” expressed de Mel on his most recent achievement. For an artist that has not studied music, and simply used his experience and visual learning skills to further his career, his music has touched many and his followers are immensely dedicated to his art. Hailing from a musical household, de Mel informed us that his father was an avid music lover and his mother comes from a musical background – even his grandparents loved music – so no matter where he went, he was always surrounded by melody. “Even before I could understand what music was, or whether I had a passion for it, I had absorbed it and grew into it.” When he was at an age of understanding, he realised that nothing else made him feel the way music did; it was there for him through good times and bad. It was at that point he knew he wanted to do music for the rest of his life.  He very graciously attributed all his musical success to Mary Anne David, who took all his raw talent and turned it into beautiful melodies and guided his musical journey since the age of nine. “Every milestone I've achieved, every highlight in my career, always roots back to Aunty Mary Anne.” He also mentioned that as a child, he had immense stage fright, and Mary Anne David guided him and sparked up his passion. Now, he feels more comfortable on stage than he does offstage.  De Mel’s first step into his musical career began when he joined the Mary Anne Singers’ Choir, and eventually ventured into the commercial music scene in 2014 when he joined Voiceprint, which he named as a highlight in his career. “Being able to join a group like Voiceprint, knowing that they picked me out specifically because they thought I'd fit into the band, was an honour,” he added.  The last two years saw live music being on the low and social media being at its peak. De Mel took advantage of this and put out all his music across social media. Back in November 2020, he released a cover of the song Dare You to Move, which has currently grown to over 1 million streams on Spotify, and it’s the fourth song from Sri Lanka to hit that milestone, with de Mel is the third artist from the island to achieve that as well.  This track was so well executed in fact, that by December 2020, it had been picked up by seven editorial playlists on Spotify and also caught the eye of an international record label, who reached out to him in January this year.  The label, by the name Instrumental, is directly affiliated with the entertainment company Warner Music Group and is catered towards independent artists around the globe. Explaining how the label works, de Mel commented: “These smaller labels use AI and algorithms to pick up on rapidly growing artists on social media platforms. My song was on the label's radar and they reached out to me.” He also added that he almost dismissed their mail as spam, as it seemed good to be true. Over the last four weeks, they finalised the contract, and he signed over his song to them.  De Mel explained that the only chance independent artists have to monetise their music is through streaming platforms; but when one is part of a label, the label will send your songs to be played on TV series, movies, games, and international radio stations. “The label has the luxury of monetising tracks through various platforms. Right now, Instrumental is pitching my tracks to some of the aforementioned platforms.”  We asked de Mel if signing with Instrumental will open up more doors for him, to which he responded saying definitely, “since Instrumental is in direct ties with Warner Music, there is a clause in my contract that states that Warner Music gets first dibs on the artist if the track or artist blows up further”. Since the label will be promoting his music, de Mel is one step closer to international collaborations and major deals.  Some artists would say that signing a contract with a record label means their freedom of expression is taken away, and the company will be in charge of what kind of music they put out. We asked de Mel for his opinion on the matter. “Being an independent artist means that we have the freedom to create what we want, how we want it, and when we want to. That is why major labels have started smaller labels in order to give these independent artists their freedom and also the opportunity and access they wouldn’t have as an independent party.”  He further informed us that Instrumental has not given him a set amount of songs to make or what to write about. He still has the freedom to do whatever he pleases; the only difference is that once he’s done with a song, he is mandated to send it to the label, and if they want it, they’ll sign his song before he releases it. If they don't sign the song, he added that he is still free to release it elsewhere, although if it does grow rapidly, the label will inquire about signing it, thereby giving it a bigger reach.  He did note that he is not yet able to comment on this, as he has just begun working with them and he has no restrictions currently.  Sharing his thoughts on the music industry, both locally and globally, he commented: “The music industry is ever growing and it's really cool that major labels are also supporting independent artists and are willing to grow together as a global industry.” De Mel has a lot of interesting things coming out the rest of the year, like his own cover album. He promised us that it's to be released within the next two months, and revealed that he has some original tracks soon to be released as well.  YouTube: Ryan de Mel Instagram: @ryandemelmusic
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