Founder - Moon Projects
Years with Company: Since May 2021
Address: Los Angeles, CA
Email: [email protected]
Clients: Consultant for various agencies, labels and management companies. JV with Republic (Em Beihold)
With a love for art and an uncanny eye for trends, Mary Rahmani carved a name for herself in both the music industry and tech spaces. Having left her position at TikTok, she combined these areas of expertise to form Moon Projects. Her company melds traditional record label services with new-school social media savvy.
Major (Label) Limitations
I learned a lot about the business but felt limited in my creativity. As I met more artists and felt I could advocate for them, I wanted to expand my wings. I pushed myself out of the label system and went into tech.
When I worked at record labels, I did A&R. I was managing artists and being part of every aspect of their creative, from photos to videos. Even at TikTok, where my role was heading artist partnerships for North America, I wanted to go above and beyond. “What are you doing about touring? What’s your content strategy? What mixers and producers are you working with? Do you need to meet more writers or artists?” I’ve worn many hats in this business. I’ve taken all that knowledge and applied it to Moon Projects. I have a lot of freedom, which is something I didn’t experience in the label system.
I saw how apps work, and how the tech world views music and creativity. I kept getting role after role, because tech companies needed someone from the music industry to help them understand how artists think. [Artists] don’t just say yes because of numbers. They want to feel like there’s a reason behind something.
Moon’s Affiliation with Republic Records
I’m a bit partial to Universal. I had three roles under the UMG system. I worked at Interscope and Geffen doing finance, and then creative, where I helped on photo and video shoots. A few years after that, I did A&R for a label called Harvest Records under Capitol Music Group when Steve Barnett took over. It’s always held a special place in my heart.
But what got me feeling even stronger about [Republic] was, while I was at TikTok, I was engaging with so many record labels. Republic was always open to working with our artists. They said yes to so many things. It was refreshing to see a major label go with a new app.
Talk Is Cheap
I don’t charge anyone just to have a conversation. I’m happy to talk. When I take on a project, we do an hourly rate, a monthly rate, or a project rate. It sort of depends on the details of the work. When I sign an artist to Republic, it’s a traditional record deal. They get an advance and all the other bells and whistles.
From Social Media to the Traditional
I just signed my first artist. Her name is Em Beihold, and I found her on TikTok. Her voice stood out to me. I am always looking at artists and songs that are trending and moving. But the kinds of artists I want to work with are not just stuck on short-form platforms. They have a chance at a career in the more traditional space.
Social Media Visibility
I’m always open to hearing about artists. A lot of the old formats have dissipated, such as blogs and going to shows, because of the pandemic. So it’s important for me to keep my eye on social platforms. It’s not because I want to be a part of virality. Of course, that’s not a bad thing if your song goes viral. But I don’t want a flash in the pan. I want two, three, four, five albums and for there to be a career.
Creativity First, Then Data
When I was at TikTok, I was tagged as the creative one because I didn’t look at data first. I’m looking based off goose bumps. Then, when I do a deeper dive, am I hearing tracks that mean something and have potential? Do you have a good head on your shoulders? Do you really want to have a career? Or do you just want to be social media famous? In terms of music, I’m looking for something that sounds familiar but is also left of center.
Every Type of Creator
I love working with micro creators, which are creators that have between 20,000 and 100,000 followers, sometimes less, sometimes more. They have pretty good views and engagement but don’t have that blue verification checkmark.
I’ve hired medical students. People that do crafting. Beauty creators. Fashion creators. Mental health creators. It’s all topics, because life is about everything and so is music. There can be presence in various verticals about an artist or song because everyone’s For You feed is different based on interests and what they’re engaging with.
You can always hire your top-tier, creator/influencer. A lot of people always went to Charli D’Amelio or Addison Rae. That guarantees a lot of numbers, but is it going to stick? I prefer to have a more ground up approach.
Social Media Awareness and Readiness
[Artists] need to know that [social media platforms] exist. That’s step one - be present. Download [them] and spend time watching. Don’t assume you know everything about these platforms. They change constantly. You’re building your brand and need to know what’s happening so you can have an opinion.
Grab your handle on all platforms as you learn and absorb. If you have a song that’s trending, you can jump on that moment quickly. Don’t feel like you have to be boxed into what you’re seeing. Push the boundaries and make unique, artistic content.
The Future of Digital Promotions
TikTok is still going to be the biggest platform for at least another year or two, but I’m keeping a close eye on Discord. I’m very interested in Web3. I’m still learning a lot about what’s going to happen in the Metaverse, not just with the company formally known as Facebook, but in spaces like Roblox and Minecraft, and how traditional companies partner with those experiences.
Will Traditional Labels Survive?
I don’t think [the label system will] ever go away. We’ve been hearing that question since Myspace, even Napster. Change is scary for all of us. The industry has learned to be ahead of new technologies and platforms as they pop up. They have divisions dedicated to those endeavors. So it won’t go away, but it will change and it should. We need to modernize our approaches. And the ones that don’t will be left behind.
Getting Out There
Why do you want to be an artist? Why are you making music? Is it for you, or is it to be discovered and have a career? And if so, what are you doing to get those things in place? Yes, you have to make great music and have talent behind it. But if you’re looking to go on the road right now, it’s a bit challenging. And if you’re hoping for someone to write about you, those [opportunities] are also limited.
So, the best thing you can do is put your music on platforms. Get active. Build a community. Build that connection. The rest will happen organically, because people can see how important it is to you, they love what you’re creating, and they’re rooting for you.
To the Moon
Moon Projects is me. Moon is my son’s middle name. And I’ve been in this business for about 25 years. I started as an intern and I’m an executive now. I did it on my own, fueled by passion, vision, and love for music and art. I give that passion and energy to all my projects. I don’t need to compare myself to other agencies or record labels; Moon is what’s inside my heart.