If you have watched a music video from an up and comer in Country Music, there is a good chance that Wales Toney was responsible for capturing the magic. Whale Tale Media may be the "new kid on the block", but within three and a half years it is already making waves. It is quickly becoming a powerhouse and well known name in videography and media. Wales described Whale Tale Media as a "full service” media company which specializes in video production. We've done anything from weddings, music videos, corporate commercials, corporate branding, real estate, banking, insurance, health care and even some original content, like skits and stuff like that. Overall, anything from videography, photography, graphics and/or social media consultation." On the second interview for our "Building the Community" series, I sat down with Wales and we talked about how he found passion behind a lens, getting introduced to working in Country Music by linking up with Muscadine Bloodline and his future goals for Whale Tale Media.
Get To Know Wales Toney
"Growing up I loved Country Music, but I wasn't musically talented at all. I couldn't sing or play the guitar, but I loved listening to Country Music. It was all I listened to in the car with my mom or whoever I was with. The fact that now I have an impact on the Country Music industry is mind blowing and feels surreal. I grew up in Anderson, South Carolina, which is upstate about 30 minutes from Clemson. Throughout my whole life, baseball was kind of my thing. I was fortunate enough to get a scholarship to play at Clemson and pitched there. I wasn't a crazy great player or anything while there as I had some injuries to deal with, as well as some other things. Injuries really opened the door for me to get into photography and videography since I had more free time on my hands. Like I said earlier, growing up in South Carolina, everyone is listening to Country Music. My mom would always be playing Garth Brooks and George Strait on the radio and my dad would be listening to Southern Rock. That's really where my musical taste came from. Going to college, I loved finding out who the new artists were, like Luke Combs and Riley Green before they were anybody. I took pride in showing other people who these new artists were. Honestly, that's really how I connected with anyone in Nashville. I started taking pictures and videos and got pretty good at it. I ended up buying a camera and some editing software, but still not doing anything professionally. I wasn't going to school for media arts, I was just doing it on the side for fun. One night, Muscadine Bloodline was having a show in Clemson at a new bar. They were playing this two person acoustic show. It was awesome so I kept following them. They ended up having another show like a year later and at this point I was more serious about what I was doing so I hit up Gary (Stanton) on Instagram. I DM'd him and asked if he would care if I came to the show and shot some content for free because I wanted it for my portfolio. I was shocked that he replied and invited me out. I think 6 months after that, Muscadine Bloodline hit me up and asked if I wanted to come to Nashville to shoot a music video for them. After that video, I fell in love with Nashville and did some things with them. I’d go out to Whiskey Jam or other writer's rounds to meet people and network. From that point on, I’ve met so many great people who I'm still friends with today. Things have snowballed from there."
Q & A With Wales Toney
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Whale Tale Media and how did this journey start for you?
A: "When I graduated college, I had a job working in sales in Greenville, South Carolina doing logistics. I was on the path to being a businessman and not worried about anything else. I was doing picture and video stuff on the side. Some of my friends had a wedding and wanted me to shoot it. They told me they didn't have a big budget, but would love to have me. I almost didn't want to do it. I didn't want to be the guy with the camera when all my friends were there. Luckily I did take the job because I started to get inquiries for other weddings and jobs like that. That's really what started it. People saw me and realized they could pay me to provide them a needed service. The next step, I knew I needed a name for my company and I didn't want it to be "Wales Toney Photography". I guess I had the idea for a whale tail coming out of the water as the logo and was thinking like "Making Waves Media". Then it came to me to - do my name but spelled as Whale and Tale since I tell a story with the camera."
Q: Most Memorable moment so far with Whale Tale Media?
A: "Man there are so many... The first moment was getting to do that video for Muscadine (Bloodline). I thought to myself "wow...this is the big leagues". Like, that is someone I listen to daily and on the radio and a group that I really like and follow. I get to work with them. Seeing the work that I put in, seeing it come out on Youtube and realizing that I made that was great. I saw this whole thing was headed in the right direction. I'm able to do something I love and want to do for the rest of my life, which is a good feeling. Since then, I had a video aired on CMT for the first time, which is crazy. I grew up watching CMT every Saturday morning with my mom and sister. Like I didn't even know it was a possibility to do that. Just to see my name on live TV with something I created is so cool to me."
Q: What is your vision for Whale Tale Media and what do you get out of it?
A: "For me, I want to continue to work on bigger and bigger projects with bigger and bigger artists and to continue to challenge myself and grow what I'm doing. With Whale Tale, it's crazy to think that I have employees now. I want to continue to grow part of the business as well and have multiple teams working on different projects. It's amazing to see people wear our hats and want to be a part of what we are doing and our brand."
Q: What advice do you have for anyone who's trying to become an entrepreneur and start their own podcast, business, service etc.?
A: "My biggest advice to pursue entrepreneurship or start your own business is learn how to manage your time and to be willing to put the hours in. Knowing when to work more and when to work less is really huge. The biggest thing is learning to adapt. If you are doing the same thing over and over and it's not working, it's probably time to change something. Being able to go with the flow, adjust things on the run and figuring out how to deal with failure is so important. There are going to be plenty of trials and tribulations, but it's figuring out how to run a sustainable business in the long run."