Saturday March 18, 2017, The Observatory at Algonquin College was the place to be to learn about the ins and outs of the music industry and hear four of Ontario’s up-and-coming Country acts. The Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAOntario) organizes these special learning exchanges and showcase opportunities in various cities within Ontario to give local area musicians, songwriters and other industry people a chance to education themselves on current trends and a chance to get their music heard.
The day started early with two panels before the lunch break. The first was Stand by Your Brand: Developing Your Image and Brand as an Artist. The panel consisted of Jenn Sookdeo – Founder of Sooks Productions & Entertainment Services, Holly Cybulski – Public Relations guru and founder of HC Consulting, Ron Harwood – Director of National Promotion at Big Machine Label Group (Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett), Dayna Bourgoin – Program Director at New Country 94 and moderated by Kathryn Hummel – President of Hummel Entertainment and Marketing/Promotion/Management executive at Royalty Records (Hey Romeo, The Boom Chucka Boys, Tristan Horncastle, Chris Buck Band).
This session discussed key aspects for an artist’s success, such as personal branding, sponsorships, innovative distribution, and public image. It was pointed out that everything an artist does, says, looks like, and sounds like, is a direct or indirect form of advertising. Artists owe it to themselves to look at their art as a commodity and craft their brand to complement their art.
After a quick break the second session, Sweet Teams Are Made of This: Building Your Team & Getting Your Music Out There began. Returning from the first panel was Holly Cybulski and Jenn Sookdeo with new additions of Martin MacPhail – Senior Marketing Manager at Wax Records (Autumn Hill) and Andrea Morris – Owner of AM to FM Promotions and, as moderator, United Talent Agency’s ace agent Stefanie Purificati, whose roster includes Alan Doyle, Paul Brandt, Bruce Cockburn and Sam Roberts.
It was discussed that music a team sport and having the right team in place is crucial to an artist’s success in today’s environment. While there is no “right” way to choose your players, you need smart, competent people focused on your band’s future. A strong team pushes everyone involved to do their best, raises the quality of everything you do, and in the end, helps you win.
We had a lunch break and returned to We’re All Ears: Demo Listening Session had us all listening to submissions from local artists and songwriters. Under the constructive criticism of Brian Allen – Award-winning songwriter and producer, Amanda Kingsland -Program Director at Country 101.1, Tyler Wilkinson – Award-winning songwriter (Small Town Pistols, The Wilkinsons) and Doug Oliver from the award-winning group, Cold Creek County. This is always a crowd favourite and a thrill to hear what creativity is out there.
The last session of the day was Don’t Bore Us, Get to the Chorus: Songwriting Panel with Charlie Major – Legendary Canadian chart-topping artist and songwriter, Jeremy Fisher – Celebrated singer/songwriter and Tyler Wilkinson, from the previous panel, with Bruce Good – Country star and hit songwriter (The Good Brothers) and current CMAOntario President, as moderator.
It can be interesting to find out the stories behind the songs and whether they just seemed to flow out fully formed or took months to craft. We were told most song fall under two categories; Relationship Songs and Novelty Songs and we got a sampling of both. Jeremy Fisher had us in break-out laughter on his novelty tune called “Little Hands”.
That was a wrap for the Panel Sessions and an informative day. Now, onto the Showcase.
The first artist up was Melissa Megan, an artist from Windsor and currently living in London, Ontario. A year ago, it was one of her tunes we heard during the Demo Derby at the RoadShow in London. Her performance was very entertaining and we look forward to hearing more from her down the road.
The second performer of the night was Oakville’s own Nicole Rayy, who has had great success with her current album Dig, released in October 2016 and a string of single releases – “Dig”, “Don’t” and “Bow and Arrow”. Rayy gave an energetic and emotional performance that definitely captivated the crowd.
Next up, Buck Twenty from Harrow, Ontario. We’ve have been following their career for the past year now and couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishments including their first single, Here’s To The Night, and not one but two second ballot nominations for the 2017 CMAOntario Awards. The audience got to see what all the fuss is about!
Last, and certainly not least, London’s Genevieve Fisher. Her Current single, “Take It On Home” has been blowing up the Canadian Country Charts, currently breaking the Top 30. She too made it to second ballot for the CMAOntario Awards. All you have to do is see and hear this lovely young lady to see why.
If the CMAOntario RoadShow makes a stop in your town, we encourage you to take it in. Whether you are a part of the music industry or not, it is informative, fun and a great networking opportunity.
See more photos in our Facebook Album. All Photo Credit Linda Heldman.
Hello everyone! My name is Linda and I have been a fan of Canadian Music for as long as I can remember. That counts for way too many decades than I want to admit to! I have three primary passions in my life, music, photography and writing. When I can combine them all, I feel I am right where I should be. Though I can appreciate all genres of music, my particular favourite is Country. Canadian Country is moving in leaps and bounds. I love how it is progressing and I’m thankful that I can be a small part of it.