Tag Archives: Canadian Music Industry

How can struggling live-music venues and musicians move forward?

Published 02/14/2017

By Shawn Wilson, CEO/Chef de la direction, Muzooka

Smaller live music venues across Canada are struggling, and the climate for local, small-scale live music in Canada is challenging. It’s hard for venues to remain profitable enough to stay open, and to hire and pay the best musicians for their venue. It’s also hard for musicians to find places to play live, with fewer venues at their disposal. This is especially important for musicians, because with the bulk of music sales lost to streaming, live performance has become a crucial component – some would say the most crucial – in their ability to earn a living. And this is especially true for those who play smaller, local venues.

Some would say that without the right support and tools, a full-scale crisis could emerge, with a trickle-down effect on local economies, neighborhood culture and community pride. Both venues and artists need better tools – faster, easier, cheaper, and more effective – so that they can spend more time doing the things they’re expert at, like making music and running an establishment, and less time with niggling and often expensive details that, more often than not, are simply bypassed, with fingers crossed that everything might work out.

Muzooka recognizes, understands and is working to solve these problems.

The nucleus of the Muzooka digital platform is the Artist Page, which serves as a valuable link between musicians and venues or festivals, where each party can find the other and explore the possibilities of working together. The Artist Page is a great way for SOCAN members to find live gigs, and for venues and festivals, Licensed To Play by SOCAN, to source great new talent. The Artist Page serves up all the content needed for a festival or venue lineup, and Muzooka’s Demo Submission tool streamlines the booking and programming processes. Artists, managers, and agents can update their information instantly over multiple venue and festival websites. Artists can keep their online content up-to-date, no matter where it’s shared or embedded online.

Another tool that’s useful to both musicians and venues is the Digital Gig Poster. Like a physical poster for a gig, it announces all the details for an upcoming performance. But the digital version can include live videos, songs, and all of the artist’s social media, so venues, festivals, artists, and fans can all quickly and easily share the posters online.

Muzooka Digital Gig Posters are automatically added to a venue’s Facebook page. Potential ticket buyers can listen to featured songs and watch live videos to get a taste of what the artist’s live show is like. Fans can invite their friends to have a look and listen, and most importantly, they can actually buy tickets. One click adds the Muzooka Gig Poster to Twitter, tags the artist(s) and venue, and posts it as a media-rich Twitter Card. Fans can play featured songs, learn more about the event, and buy tickets, all inside of Twitter. Muzooka also e-mails the artist an Instagram-friendly video that plays 15 seconds of the featured video with a text overlay of the show’s details, as well as copy/paste text with proper @mentions.

And it’s all 100% free for participating musicians and venues.

In another initiative aimed at helping musicians – and music publishers – Muzooka is working directly with SOCAN on strategies for their application program interface (API) portal. SOCAN’s APIs have the potential to enable a marketplace of new innovative apps, that could revolutionize how writers and music publishers work with SOCAN, to get paid when their music is played.

SOCAN has already launched two APIs, for song registration and concert notification. The former enables tech developers to build new workflow apps and software to allow songwriters to register their songs more accurately with their music publishers, labels, digital services and SOCAN, while the latter enables those developers to build apps that allow songwriters and music publishers to more easily register their concerts with SOCAN, to get paid faster and more accurately for their live performances.

SOCAN is leading the transformation of music rights, and Muzooka is proud to support them by helping SOCAN members and licensed venues be more effective and productive, so that they can focus on the stuff that they’re actually good at – like making and presenting music.

How to Survive “No”

Published 12/13/2016

By Savannah Leigh Wellman

It’s undeniable the positive impact that artist development programs, grants, and contests have on the Canadian music scene. Artists being educated on the “how-tos” of the industry begin to see their music not just as an art form, or hobby, or crap shoot – but a viable business, in which they can learn the tools to use in building a career. Funding given to artists is in turn invested right back into the industry around them. Programs that include mentorships or professional introductions offer an invaluable “insider” opportunity to make connections that would quite possibly be otherwise ignored. Being selected for any kind of funding or program is almost always a welcomed leg up and boost of confidence for an artist.

But what happens when being left on the outside of these opportunities creates the opposite effect – a discouragement, a seed of doubt in an already self-critical mind?  It can create divides amongst the very community the programs are aiming to support, or lead to viewpoints of entitlement and judgement.  Not that these programs shouldn’t exist – they’re crucial for building the careers of emerging artists, in a way that record labels generally can’t any more. But how can we help artists come away from such experiences stronger than when they began, instead of defeated?

Anyone who’s ever worked with an artist understands that the creative mind is usually also a sensitive one – that sensitivity is what makes an artist compelling to the public, and what provides a unique insight into the human experience. When your product is so innately personal, criticisms can feel extra severe, and artists in the early stages of their career don’t have the same defense mechanisms as more established acts. They don’t have dedicated fans sending positive messages of support, or successes they can look back on for reassurance, or managers and team members to keep them focused on the positive. To someone who is still trying to make it on their own, blows to your confidence can be real setbacks.

But why is not being selected for something taken as a criticism? Why can’t an artist simply shrug off a “no” and apply for the next opportunity? I think it comes down to the fact that when putting your music on the line to be judged, to be critiqued and evaluated, it’s close to impossible to not take the results personally. It feels like someone is reviewing everything you’ve poured your heart into, and deciding it’s not worthy – when in reality, there’s just not enough funds, or showcase slots, or prizes to give away to everyone who is worthy.

The most important thing to remember when putting your music in a situation where it will be judged in one way or another is that art is subjective. Even though guidelines can be created to try to best measure the tangible components (strong melody, professional production, interesting lyrics), at the end of the day, it still comes down to an individual’s opinion. And when has the music industry ever been unanimous on an opinion of what’s good?! Just because the small sample group of people who had the fate of your application in their hands didn’t think it was better than the one they heard before it, doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

Also, some programs offer feedback for applicants, and if you’re up for taking it in, it can provide great opportunities for growth. Again, the key is to take them with a grain of salt, and if there are suggestions you agree with, then consider following those.

In some cases, instead of spawning insecurities, a “no” will raise feelings of anger, and defensiveness. But I did this, and I have earned that!  Or perhaps a comparative outlook is taken on – but I did this and they didn’t! These mind frames breed negativity and competitiveness within a scene, and can harbour jealousy and resentment towards acts for which there’s no other reason to withdraw support. It’s important to remember that everyone’s working hard, and that someone else’s success does not actually take away from your own.

If the concern is about procedure or policy, making sure that certain standards are being upheld, or that processes are transparent and accessible, then those are fair points to make with whoever is running the program. However, it’s important to bring it up in an un-biased, rational discussion, rather than as an emotional defence. Don’t focus on why your own application wasn’t selected, but rather on the guideline or policy that seems to be counter-productive for a number of artists (for example).

We are so lucky to live in a country that supports arts and culture the way Canada does – it’s unique on a worldwide scale.  While it can be disheartening to apply for various support programs and not be selected, it’s important to remember the real reasons you started making music – chances are it wasn’t to win contests, or record albums only if someone else paid for them.

Every successful musician has their own novel of rejection stories – it’s the ones who persevere through them who have a chance at a successful career.

 

Savannah Leigh Wellman was the program manager at Music BC Industry Association for eight years, performs under the artist name SAVVIE, and is a co-founder of Tiny Kingdom Management & Artist Services.

CIMA’s 2016 business mission to New York

Published 11/18/2016

By Trisha Carter

From Nov. 7-10, 2016, the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) returned to the Big Apple for our second business mission to New York City entitled “Music & the City That Never Sleeps.” Prominent Canadian music business types signed up as delegates and had an intensive three days of one-on-one targeted meetings, roundtable discussions, and insightful tech visits and workshops. The purpose of the mission was to provide participating companies with an exclusive opportunity to undertake an extensive, valuable, structured foray into the New York music market.

After an orientation on Sunday night, CIMA’s delegation kicked into high gear on Monday morning with a roundtable discussion held at the Coffee Shop World Room that targeted live music and touring in New York City. Our participants got valuable tips from U.S.-based speakers Nick Bodor (Cake Shop), Doug Croy (The Windish Agency), Mehmet Dede (Drom), Stephen Dima (Dima Presents) and Gary Fortune (Mondo NYC). From there we visited the historic Gibson Showroom where a session was hosted by the new must-have music sharing app Cymbal.fm, followed by a tour of the showroom – a guitar players fantasy!

At the end of each of the three days, our delegation had targeted one-on-one meetings scheduled by our in-market consultant. These were organized ahead of time for the participants after consultations about their mission business objectives.

It was right back to work on Tuesday morning with another Roundtable discussion on the intricate world of music synchronization and publishing, featuring U.S.-based speakers Keith D’Arcy (Songs Publishing), Melissa Emert-Hutner (Kobalt Music Publishing), Matthew Evertsen (Moondog Music), Jedd Katrancha (Downtown Music Publishing), and Jean Scofield (mcgarrybowen). The afternoon was spent enjoying tech tours and workshops. Delegates visited feature.fm – the only truly native music ad platform –  followed by a stop at the Next Big Sound, an analytics and insight platform held across all social media. On Tuesday night, our Canadian delegation enjoyed a unique experience, as they got the opportunity to watch the U.S. presidential election unfold right in the heart of New York City.

On the final day, our roundtable discussions continued with a foray into marketing, press relations and radio, led by U.S. industry experts Leigh Lust (Pledge Music), Mischa Pearlman (freelance journalist), Perry Serpa (Vicious Kid PR) and Marni Wandner (Sneak Attack Media). The last day of tech visits started with a meeting at BandsinTown, a great app for tour announcements, where our delegates had a focused session on how to make this a valuable tool for their artists, managers and labels. The next visit was held at Soundcloud, where delegates got a first look at the company’s brand new Soundcloud Go mobile app, recently launched in Canada, as well as some insights on how best to use the product to their advantage. On our action-packed Wednesday we made one final stop at Indaba Music, an online music collaboration tool.

To absorb every last minute of knowledge-seeking in New York, we had a special dinner with Matthew Covey of Tamizdat and our sister association A2IM, at the Troy Liquor Bar – where our delegation learned about the challenges and advancements of the VISA process currently being developed with multiple partners, including CIMA.

To conclude an excellent few days of information and B2B meetings, we re-connected with our American business associates at the Speakeasy Industry Mixer at Troy Liquor Bar, an event produced by Sneak Attack Media, Bandsintown, CIMA and SOCAN.

CIMA was excited to once again work with a great team in New York City and pleased to have one of our sponsors, Rodney Murphy of SOCAN, join us for this mission and provide support on the ground.

CIMA gratefully acknowledges and thanks our generous sponsors and partners: Canadian Music Week (CMW), Corus Entertainment, the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), the Government of Canada (through the Canada Music Fund), Global Affairs Canada (through the GOA program), Harvard Broadcasting, Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), the Radio Starmaker Fund, Stingray Music and the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN).