Living in London: how an APRA cheque changed everything

Friday, 04 Apr 2014

A musicians life is often perceived as the road less traveled for good reasons. One thing that sings true to any creative is that timing and a bit of luck can change everything. APRA AMCOS member Tonino Speciale can relate to this. An 11th hour APRA royalty payment enabled him to relocate to London and revive his songwriting career. To date he has had six top 10 singles internationally and worked with Professor Green, Zane Lowe, and 2014 Brit Award winner Ella Eyre. We caught up with Tonino at Tileyard Studios to find out how an APRA payment changed everything, and his tips for songwriting in London.

How did you come to base yourself in London?

I lived in London for a few years when I was 19 and returned to Australia to continue my career. When I got back I started a band, wrote songs, recorded and toured the country for three years.  After the band finished, I was dead broke with no money coming in as I’m sure many can relate to. I was so close to throwing in the towel and getting a 9-5 job, then last minute I received a royalty payment from APRA that changed everything. I realised I had to get back to London and try to continue where I left off.  When I arrived, I stayed on friends’ couches and had to start all over again. I used this as a clean slate to start writing fresh material with new people. After five years of hard work in London, I’ve found my feet and haven’t looked back.

What advice do you have for people who want to relocate to London?

Music is a tough business, and things are very cut throat in London. Don’t do what I did and come with nothing! Be prepared and have some material when you get here. You should be willing to try anything and take opportunities to get in on as many sessions as you can. You will eventually find a place here. London is so creative and people love working with Australians. We are known over here for not being scared of hard work.

What is it about Tileyard Studios that inspires you?

Tileyard is a very unique place in the world. It has 71 studios filled with people that are the best of the best. From Grammy winners like Mark Ronson and La Roux to movie and videogame composers, you are in contact with these people on a daily basis. People are constantly popping in on each other’s sessions which really ups your game as a songwriter/producer and also enables you to share ideas with one another. Every day you have amazing artists, producers, songwriters and industry representatives on your doorstep waiting to hear your latest work.

How has it been having an APRA AMCOS representative in London to support the membership?

Sometimes being in London, you feel very far away from everything back home so having someone here is a godsend. Things can get a little daunting so it’s good to have someone representing you and even help you make connections when you need it. It’s reassuring knowing you have this backup.

To get in touch with Tonino, please contact his manager Peter Chiesa on

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