Founded in 1993, CYMBA, an acronym for Crushing Your Music Business Apathy, is an internationally renowned boutique music publishing company, led by former Vice-President of International A&R at RCA Records, and current President of the Canadian Music Publisher's Association, Vincent Degiorgio.
Through a writer-first approach, CYMBA has fast become one of the most creative publishing entities in Canada, revolutionizing genres and producing masterful songs that strike a chord with international audiences.
To date, the CYMBA team has had songs written in over 11 different languages, with tracks featured in domestic and international films, television shows, and advertisements. Notable sync placements include television shows ranging from Degrassi: The Next Class and Pretty Little Liars, to CBC’s Mr. D and Heartland.
CYMBA’s current talent roster includes Hedley co-writer Davor Vulama, Aileen de La Cruz, Ari Rhodes, and recent additions Reeny Smith, electronic artist Keshia Chante, pop songwriter Jesse Weeks and Talltale (aka Tatiana Zagorac).
We spoke with Vincent Degiorgio about how he has built CYMBA and the evolution of music publishing and licensing.
What inspired you to work in the music industry?
My father did. His musical taste sparked my global adventure into the industry and helped me learn to hear with my ears and my heart. I only wish I had heeded his dream of learning to play the piano. Instead, I bought a lot of keyboards my co-writers could use. I was always curious about where the journey could take me and it has never been boring. Quincy Jones talked about “always needing to learn the science of music.” That’s my inspiration for what I do. I’m a curious credit hound who wants to know everything about what I listen to.
What are some of the projects you’re working on that you’re excited about?
After the great work we did with Nuela Charles earlier this year, the forthcoming Reeny Smith project is something that I have very high hopes for. She’s a terrific writer, a phenomenal performer and has a great manager in Marc Perry. Same goes for Dennis Ellsworth, and his forthcoming duet album with Kinley Dowling. It's almost finished and what I’ve heard, I love. Ongoing projects from LUVLYF and Talltale are played on repeat. The new David Archuleta EP, Orion, is magic. We represent his publishing worldwide.
What is the album or song that changed your life?
Nat King Cole Sings / George Shearing Plays is the album. I cannot think of a record that has a pitch-perfect voice, brilliant playing and arrangements so sublime that if it were a collective painting, it’d make Picasso blush. I’ve been obsessed with arrangers since I was a kid. I play this album at least once a week, to remind myself that I have to work harder to live up to the greatness that preceded my writers and me musically. Honourable mention goes to “Kaleidoscope World” by Swing Out Sister—who I tried to sign when I was at RCA. That’s a masterpiece to my ears. As an A&R person, it’s the N Sync debut. As a writer, it’s Caro Emerald’s “Deleted Scenes,” the record I’m most proud of. And yes, I cheated with this answer.
What’s your best piece of advice for young artists right now?
Embrace your crazy. These days, everything sounds the same. Go out and be original. Remember that everything on the radio is already 18 months old. Don’t copy it to become a victim of either laziness or centralized music programming—explore your musical universe. Defy the conventions and learn to play. Write enough songs to do two albums so that if you spark the media’s interest with your debut, you’ll be ready when they immediately compare you to something you don’t wanna be associated with. Use unique instruments or sounds to define who you are. And speak to a music publisher to learn that side of the business early. Finally, learn the right path to promoting yourself without alienating all of your friends.
What are the biggest challenges you are facing as a company at the moment?
Domestically, it’s having people understand the perception of who we are and what we have the ability to do as collaborators. We’re in the process of re-developing our philosophy as a company, starting with our ongoing rebrand, the opportunities we provide to our writers and partners and expanding our musical horizons as a company. While perception is reality to some, it’s comedy to us. Our international success is a huge part of who we are. My staff rocks. The truth is, the number one challenge we have is to keep up with how fast we’ve grown in the last three years. It’s a good place to be right now.