Three years ago, Milan Merlo had a crazy idea.
As a journalism student at the University of North Texas, she identified a gap in media coverage of young artists and musicians in the university’s creative arts scene.
“I wanted a way to share everyone’s stories,” Merlo says. With a single camera and her best friend, she began to conduct interviews with photographers, videographers, and creative professionals on campus and around Denton. As her interview series grew, she developed a love for creative direction, content creation, and branding for artists. “I started seeing that [creative direction] was something artists needed help with, so I pushed the [series] in that direction.”
That evolved into The Honey, a hyper-local music platform aimed at uplifting musicians across Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We are always changing,” she says. “New things are thrown at us.” She listed examples: a musician consulting platform for assistance with getting music on streaming services like Spotify. Team meetings about innovative ways to market a musician’s videos for greater exposure online. And, frankly, the company offers its services to provide whatever is needed to help an artist develop, particularly when it comes to business.
“The experience is different from other videos I’ve done, because of how hands-on she is on everything,” says Blackk Egyptt, a local hip-hop artist and songwriter who worked with The Honey for his “Thinking Of You” music video. “It’s hard to find a director that incorporates what they see with what you see. As far as connecting the two ideas into one vision, she does that very well.”
His comment reflects the company’s mission of being an equal partner with the artists, to serve as a platform to not only create art but elevate their vision.
Merlo believes the city gives musicians the ability to create “more genuine, more organic, and more meaningful” music. She describes our region as a hub for artistic expression, where artists can create on their own terms. The Honey wants to help provide the resources to keep creatives local. Within three years, Merlo and her four woman team have expanded the platform’s services into creative direction, photography, writing, social media consulting, and Soundcheck, which is their signature live video series. Think NPR’s Tiny Desk, but local. Artists like Maya Piata, Piper Byers, Zane Loose, Ashton Edminster and free blck. are few of the artists featured in the live video series.
In the years to come, she wants to move the digital platform into a brick and mortar studio space for artists to convene in person. Until then, Merlo continues to cover the region’s hottest artists and stand in the gap between traditional and non-traditional media to give local artists a fighting chance.