Toby Lightman talks coming home to Philly, new album, and thoughts on music streaming

Toby Lightman is a successful singer/songwriter with Philly roots. She recently performed for her hometown fans at World Cafe Live and took some time to chat with Rock On Philly about her latest release, Every Kind of People, as well as her thoughts on music streaming and life as a musician in New York.

ROP: Toby, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us! So you’re originally from the Philly region. How did it feel to be playing a home show at World Cafe Live? Do you get to visit much from New York?

Toby: I love visiting Philly, since I grew up 15 minutes away in Cherry Hill.  I always get a good feeling every couple of months when I visit and cross over the Ben Franklin bridge!  Playing in Philly is always the best cause I have amazing fans there that are always so excited for the shows as well as friends and family who live there.

ROP: Your last album release was back in 2012 with Know Where I’m From. In between that album and your newest release, Every Kind of People, what have you been up to?

Toby: I actually released an EP called Holding a Heart in between both releases along with a ton of other music.  Over the years, I have done a lot of writing and some of those songs have been used in various TV shows and movies.  The title track of that EP was placed 7 times on shows like One Tree Hill, Vampire Diaries, 90210 and others. So I basically write all the time!

ROP: How is EKOP different from your previous work? Was there an overall source of inspiration for these songs or was each song a world within itself?

Toby: Each song started as its own thing, its own idea.  But in the process of writing and choosing which ones should make it onto the record, I started feeling a story develop.  The story of emotion and experiences that we all feel, or at least that I do. Every song conveys a different emotion for me, but as a collection, they are the ins and outs of life. The production started to take on this combination of my older influences and where I am at now as an artist.  It’s sort of like a coming home in a way.

ROP: Who did you work on this album with? Any favorite songs?

Toby: I produced this record with Curt Schneider, who’s an amazing bass player and producer in LA.  He has a group of extremely talented friends around him, so we had a great band play on the records.  I would say my favorite song on the record is “Bumps in the Road,” from the meaning behind the song (realizing that I met my now husband) to the organic nature of the production, it definitely gets me every time!

ROP: Very cool. I’m going to have to pay special attention to that one! So you’ve been living in New York for a while now. What is it like being an artist in New York these days? Has it changed at all since you first arrived? How would you say that music scene is different from the Philly music scene?

Toby: New York has changed a great deal since I’ve moved here.  There used to be a tight music scene downtown, with all the singer/songwriters performing at the same place and hanging out and whatnot. Then people started moving to LA and Nashville, since the label industry in NY isn’t as important as it used to be. However, now I’m seeing a resurgence. Everyone that’s left wants to ban together and support each other. It’s nice to see!

ROP: You were signed to a major early on in your career and now you have your own label, T Killa.  How do you keep a balance between being creative and managing the business side of things?

Toby: It’s really hard!  My manager always says that I’m the CEO of Toby Lightman. In putting out this record particularly, I have had to balance being an artist and wanting to have big dreams and everything to work out like magic, with being my label head and knowing there’s a business plan and we need to be responsible.  It’s hard to do both, but I’m learning something everyday!

ROP: That’s so exciting! New challenges. So here’s another music business question. As an established artist, what is your take on the whole music streaming debate?

Toby: It’s like everything else in this world that is changing sooo fast.. Streaming is here and it isn’t going anywhere, so you have to work around it.  Create experiences for fans that show them that you have more to give and that you want them to be a part of something bigger than a download.  Obviously, I want people to buy music and acknowledge that we are all working really hard and spending money to get it out there, but I also want people to discover me and share it with their friends. So it’s a double-edged sword.

ROP: What can be done to make the world a better place for artists?

Toby: The music business seems to be made up of two classes, the up and comings on reality TV and the mega stars. I wish there were more opportunities for the middle class musicians. A platform for artists that are just flying under the radar would be great.   Maybe that’s a new show that needs to come out! HA!

ROP: Putting it out into the universe helps! So what’s next for you in 2015?

Toby: I will be touring quite a bit to support my new record Every Kind of People and working on new music.  I am my best when I’m creative and putting out new music for my fans, so don’t be surprised if a new EP comes out!

ROP: What lesson have you learned thus far in your career that you’d like to impart to up and coming artists?

Toby: Get out there and make s–t happen. Don’t wait for that magic formula because everyone’s formula is different.  And try new things. You never know what can happen!

ROP: Toby, thank you so much for your time and insight! This was fantastic.

Toby: My pleasure!

If you’d like to check out Toby’s music visit:

You can stream songs from her latest album, Every Kind of People, below!

Featured Image: Candace Lawler

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