Nicolas Maldonado grew up on the outskirts of the vast megalopolis that is Los Angeles surrounded by musical influence -- a father who plays Mariachi, and a big brother in a rock band. By osmosis and encouragement, he was prompted to embark on his own musical journey, which most recently brought him to award-winning music agency Syn via an initiative called .Movtogether.
.Movtogether was founded by members of the entertainment and advertising community in 2020 who wanted to harness their experience to provide exposure for people who might not have immediate access to an industry network and professional opportunities. Through CalArts, .Movtogether found applicants like Nicolas and matched those selected with key companies. In Nicolas’ case, Syn, which has locations in Tokyo, London, Los Angeles, and Beijing and specializes in music strategy & branding, original composition, sound design and more.
CalArts, Nicolas relays, has played a pivotal role in his development as a musician and composer. He was first introduced to CalArts via a free summer program for high school students that opened his eyes to career opportunities in music. Already a student of the saxophone, CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP) - as the summer program is called - unlocked Nicolas’ desire to pursue music professionally. After earning an undergraduate degree at UC Irvine and performing in a band for a few years, Nicolas went to CalArts where he earned a Masters Degree in Composition and Performance. CalArts, known for helping bridge the academic and professional divide, contacted Nicolas and other recent graduates about the initiative. Although he initially hesitated to apply to .Movtogether because he didn’t see its immediate music connection, his experience has exceeded his expectations.
As he describes it, Syn invited him to just jump into everything - he was included in global company meetings and was able to observe what it means to be a part of a company that spans many countries. The foundational and structural details of running a company, the process of creative collaboration, and the opportunity to compose, arrange and record music were all part of the experience with Syn. Throughout, he received feedback and mentorship from a number of people within the company, including co-founder / Creative Director Nick Wood.
“Seeing how people interpret different creative and business approaches was an incredible opportunity and an important facet of what Syn provided with open arms,” Nicolas explains. “Nick and I worked together on a few projects and he was generous with his time, encouraging throughout the process, and provided specific, useful feedback. As artists we need to hone communication and understand the business in addition to developing craft, and this time with Syn allowed me to build on holistic skill sets with a globally reaching creative team.”
In addition to contributing to on-air projects, Nicolas’ understanding of Sonic Branding and the Syn System was demonstrated during a presentation for .Movtogether’s educational sessions.
“It is very interesting to understand Syn’s approach to Sonic Branding - and to see how they apply all of their resources to understanding and developing each project,” notes Nicolas. “Everything is a layering effect, and to be able to relay that to the .Movtogether audience, including students whose work in design is supported with sonic branding and music, was just one of the many great experiences in the mentorship.”
“Having Nicolas as part of our international team has really been a terrific experience for all of us,” explains Nick Wood. “I personally enjoyed working closely with him on a recent HBO project that required an authentic 1930’s sounding Jazz arrangement. Nicolas helped me to arrange the song, and performed saxophone and clarinet, bringing a truly authentic sound to the production. He’s clearly a talented musician, creative thinker and a very good communicator and I look forward to continuing to work together on new projects.”
“We are grateful to .Movtogether’s program to unite diverse talent with creative companies in the industry,” continues Wood, “and I encourage anyone who hasn’t yet participated to consider a mentorship.”