In Conversation With...

Issue 71

TONY MCNALLY Owner of ToneAlly™

What were your career ambitions growing up? I always had a burning desire to be a brilliant musician, it was my passion from a very early age. I also wanted to be that someone that could inspire others as some of the greats have inspired me. Tell us about your current role? As CEO and founder of ToneAlly™ I get to make all the decisions. It’s a huge responsibility but it is quite liberating to be able to choose who I want to work with -and when. I designed a training aid for people wanting to practice to play the drums, which some of the best-known drummers in the biggest bands in the world support and use. What is your proudest business achievement? This has to be when ToneAlly™ was awarded the first educational award in the history of NAMM. NAMM is the biggest trade show on the planet for new musical products and innovations. Needless to say this was HUGE! If I might indulge, there are two very proud moments, the second being on Dragon’s Den last month with ToneAlly™. How has your industry changed in the last decade? As a musician and music teacher, the landscape seems to have changed dramatically in the last decade. Advancements in the latest technologies, apps, electronic and hybrid drum kits seem ever changing. Furthermore, learning to master the various forms of social media and self-promotion seem to reinforce the need for self-belief and that in order to get something done these days you need to start by making things happen yourself. What are you currently working on? Product development is very much at the forefront of my mind. I’m currently looking at other ways in which ToneAlly™ can be used across the wider curriculum, particularly in the early years and foundation stage in education. I’m also working on my 4th studio album ‘Mysterious’ and first drum book. Tell us about the team you work with? I am truly blessed to be surrounded by supportive friends, family and business colleagues. From my hometown of Jarrow, to California, New York, Italy, Germany and even Canada, the one thing we all have in common is a passion for what we do! My team has grown organically, and it would be true to say we all have a genuine love and appreciation of the universal language of music and the feeling of wellbeing it brings. What is the best piece of business advice you have been given? Keep doing what you’re doing and don’t let anybody put you off! Like on Dragon’s Den, although I didn’t get an investor, they could see the potential of my product and it has opened many, many doors since my appearance. What has been your biggest challenge? My biggest challenge was being patient enough to wait two years after applying for the patent to find out if someone else had already thought of my idea somewhere else in the world. Nail biting stuff!! Preparing to face the Dragons on Dragons’ Den came a close second to this! Who are your heroes inside and outside of business? World renowned drummer and educator Dom Famularo (Drumming’s Global Ambassador). He’s inspirational, we’ve delivered drum clinics and masterclasses together for the past three years and become great friends. Gary Wallis (Pink Floyd/ Tom Jones/Schiller) is one of my favourite all time musicians and such a wonderful person too! Outside of business my heroes are my parents who encouraged me from an early age to look upon life as a great adventure and also my wife and life-long partner Gillian – we’re both dreamers! How do you unwind outside of work? I like to play games, chess is my favourite. Sports-wise, I play tennis and love fly fishing. I also love travel and love nothing more than going to our holiday home in Italy. Am I able to say that, considering our defeat to them in the Euro’s? (Too soon?) I love travel on the whole and am fortunate enough to be able to take ToneAlly™ around the world to conferences, exhibitions and learning institutions. Favourite book/CD/DVD? Book – The Sea, the Sea by Iris Murdoch, CD – The Nightfly, Donald Fagan, DVD – Blade Runner, Music composed by Vangelis.

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