Oklahoma independent artist Sam Marino talks songwriting, what it takes to continually pursue a career as a recording artist, and his holiday Christmas show now booking!
How did you get started?
Starting with piano lessons at age five, I was musical from a young age. I was in band, church choir and was involved in drama and theatre performances growing up. In high school I was inspired by acoustic singer/songwriters like John Mayer and James Taylor and taught myself how to play the guitar. This gave me the confidence to take a more personal approach to musical education and focus on the aspects I enjoyed the most. I’ve never received any formal higher education in music, but have studied music theory and songwriting independently for several years.
Did you always want a career in the music industry?
I was always interested in a career in the music industry, but for many years of my life I didn’t think it was a realistic possibility. I almost convinced myself it was something others had the privilege of pursuing, but not anything I could do. It wasn’t until the semester before graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a major in Psychology Pre-Med & Spanish that I realized there was still plenty of time for me to pursue a dream that I had written off for too long.
I started playing some acoustic shows around Oklahoma City and ended up getting together with my good friend Saxon Bryant to experiment and write. After recording a few songs together, we realized there was some serious potential for a long-term project. We co-founded the group Channel 13 in 2018, and have been in full pursuit of original songwriting and recording ever since.
I’ve worked several jobs from ESL teacher, restaurant manager, bartender and sales representative to make ends meet while pursuing these goals. This year I’ve decided to go full time with performance and am offering live Christmas music for the holiday season! I’ve put together a set of Christmas classics that I sing and play on the piano under the name Marino Music, and am still booking gigs.
What is your role in the music industry?
I’m am an artist and songwriter first and foremost. Writing and performing with Channel 13 has been my main focus since it’s inception. As an independent artist, I’ve had to find ways to continually fund recordings and content as we build the project. Saxon and I play cover songs at private events and parties to help fund our recordings, and I play cocktail piano independently at formal events. I’ve also worked as a freelance music supervisor on a few side projects.
Most Recent Successes / Placements / Accomplishments / Projects? Career highlight?
Channel 13 was recently accepted into the music licensing platform Artlist, and we were featured in their New Releases Collection earlier this year. It’s given us opportunities with song placements in content that puts our music in front of a new audience of millions of people around the world.
What is your favorite Oklahoma music venue, music store, or recording studio?
My favorite recording studio is The Closet Studios in Tulsa. We’ve recorded every Channel 13 song there and the owner, Kendal Osborne, has been instrumental in helping us find our sound.
Networking and connecting with others who share your dream or vision is a vital aspect to the music industry. Can you share which Oklahoma organizations (if any) have contributed to your success and are there Oklahoma organization you would recommend other connect with? To help further their craft or promotion?
I highly recommend any Oklahoma artist to register in the Oklahoma Music Directory. I’ve used it to network with other local artists as well as find new opportunities for venues and festivals! The Oklahoma Arts Council is also a great resource for every artist.
How can we follow you? Best place to purchase and listen to your music (if applicable)?
You can follow and stream on all Channel 13 pages:
Advice for someone interested in working in the music industry.
For songwriters and artists, I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the numbers game. Focus on the things that you do best and make you unique, and let your work speak for itself. The rest will come with time!
What are some of the benefits of having a music career in Oklahoma?
The biggest benefit would be the cost of living. In my opinion, the quality of recording and production in Oklahoma is very underrated. Most people think of L.A., New York City or Nashville when they want to record music as an original artist. But right in the middle of it all is Oklahoma, where you can get high quality production at a much lower cost. I’m a believer that within the next decade we are going to see a huge surge of talent and success in our state. With high quality recording studios all over OKC and Tulsa, and the emergence of production companies like Prairie Surf Media coming onto the scene, it’s only a matter of time before Oklahoma becomes an art hub of the Midwest.
Favorite quote (if applicable)
“Good artists borrow, great artists steal.” – Pablo Picasso
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.