Then there’s Tammy Tiehel-Stedman, a Philly-suburbs-raised producer who won an Academy Award in 1999 for her work on the short film My Mother Dreams the Satan’s Disciples in New York. She’d wanted to work with Joyner and Lokoff for years, but wasn’t sure just how. Then Bad Boys Crazy Girls came around—a film whose script she’s licensed from New York writer Heather Maidat’s story of two unlucky co-workers tired of feeling jilted by lovers who opt for the crazier and badder versions of themselves. They try to help each other become crazier and badder in turn, and—well, we’ll have to see what happens to them. The film’s in pre-production now, and the MilkBoy guys are suddenly not just music producers for film, they’re film producers. “We’re involved,” Lokoff says. “We’re one of four producers locally and [we’re looking at] a $1.5 million budget to produce it.”
With a vibrant new Center City nightlife venue, a storied Philadelphia recording space, a deep client sheet for commercial work and now a foot into the filmmaking world, MilkBoy’s got as sophisticated a grasp on the entertainment world of 2013 as any small company around. It’d be no surprise if venues and studios both in and beyond Philly try to replicate MilkBoy’s model for success, looking for ways that distinct arms of their business can profitably harmonize.
Larry Gold’s been doing a lot of reading lately. He just finished re-reading Don DeLillo’s American Pastoral , which he picked up again after chatting about it with a MilkBoy intern, a Princeton man who loves books as much as he does. Gold finds some irony in that. “They have interns 24/7,” he marvels. “I never had an intern in my life. They have an inclusivity—I had an exclusivity. I didn’t want anybody coming and bothering the Roots or Jill Scott. Or bothering me. I wanted this space to be just about making music.”
MilkBoy the Studio is still all about music, of course. It’s just that as the old recording industry falters, Joyner and Lokoff are figuring out what the new one needs to look like and how to keep doing what they love— record, produce, compose, play, showcase, nurture and facilitate creativity—while earning a living along the way. In other words, how to make the music biz better. Because that’s what they do.