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backstage

backstage

[noun]

musivv.com’s digital magazine dedicated to honoring the men and women behind the stars.

august 2021

In the morning when doing my morning routine I love listening to Tibetan Bhuddist music on Youtube, then my playlist throughout the day are various Lo-Fi playlists, especially the Japanese themed ones, and then in the evening inevitably I will listen to either Sonic Radio Ibiza or Cafe Del Mar Ibiza Live on Youtube.

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all images are supplied and owned by Tobie Allen. use without permission is prohibited.

Tobie Allen

We Are All In This Together


Ma’ana, which means ‘together’ or ‘as one' in Arabic, was initially created to be a collective platform for UAE-based music producers. Founder Tobie Allen expressed his excitement with the name and how it coincides with the firm's core values as a business: We are all in this 'together'.

How do you see Ma'ana in 5 years?
I see Ma’ana as a global music marketing and PR agency that has developed many other services that help others reach their goals. We have plenty of scopes to grow, learn and improve and that's why I love what I do every day. We have some great tech plans for the future which will all come to fruition soon.

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How did Ma'ana Music come about?

I was at a BBQ in Dubai at a friend's house where there were other artists. I met an awesome guy called Hadi, a singer-songwriter from Lebanon living in the UAE. I had never met Hadi before and like all good muso’s we started chatting. Hadi was signed to Universal Music MENA. After outlining what I did with Ma’ana he asked me if I did music PR. Now I could have said the easy option and said no. Which would have been truthful. But me being me, and having the motivation to help, I said 'Of course I do.’ The following Sunday, I opened up my laptop, created an Excel sheet, hammered Google and found 30 outlets in the UAE that covered music and entertainment. I created a list, explained to Hadi what I thought I could do, and the rest is history. Two years later we have helped just under 100 MENA and global Arab artists by delivering their music stories across 15 countries.

Among the other music niche-focused PR agencies in the region, what does Ma'ana offer differently?

I cheekily say we are a bunch of misfits that serve fellow misfits. Musicians are creative people, sometimes insular, their studios are their sanctuaries and performances are their haven.

The team is all music lovers, still DJs or music producers. We understand all the challenges that musicians encounter and more importantly, we speak their language. On a service level, we not only deliver their music locally in the UAE but we deliver their music across the whole MENA region and across the globe as well. There are a lot of agencies that do digital music promotion around the world but we also see immense value in garnering and maximizing traditional media as well. Musicians and music producers really only want one of three things; more fans, more streams or more gigs. Understanding this is something that is key to helping musicians, especially in the MENA region.

We understand all the challenges that musicians encounter

The Why

Why music and entertainment? Any musical inclination?

A great question. It's all I really know and love, apart from sport. And as I have been in the industry for so long it's been a natural progression of learning to get to where we are today. My mother always asked this when I was younger when we went clubbing off to London in the early 1990s and my response was I would rather be in a club where everyone was smiling than in a pub where people were drunk and beating people up. Regarding if I have any musical inclination although I have made electronic music and understand that process I was actually kicked out of my school orchestra where I was playing the drums and always out of time. I have dabbled in learning the violin and trombone when I was younger but nothing more than second grade.

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Among the musical artists that you've worked with, who stood out in terms of story?

A campaign that stands out is Bashar Murad from Palestine. A fabulous guy, and someone who is not afraid of his identity and stands up for what he believes in. An open advocate of the LGBT family, one would think that the campaign would be quite tricky where his music also had a political message to it. The campaign was covered in all the major countries in the MENA region, rightfully so, including Egypt, Saudi, and the UAE where you would think media outlets would be totally opposed to the message and image he portrays. It turned out as one of our best results at the time.

A campaign that stands out is Bashar Murad

Any particular trait that you look for in working with an artist?

What I have learned is it is okay to say no to a musician if I believe they do not fit our values and culture. Musicians have to possess three things for a campaign to be successful; 1) well-produced music, which doesn't mean style as that is subjective and not for me to be the judge of that, 2) a good brand and 3) the most important thing is a great story. Mostly this is where we come in. On top of those things I do look for whether the artist is invested. Being a diva doesn't bode well with journalists and this can have a detrimental effect on future campaigns for other artists. This can normally be avoided with a little bit of media training beforehand by us.


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