In this segment of Firsts, Favourites & Facts, I asked seven Canadian artists what the best advice they’ve received so far in their music career.
Find out their answers now!
“Here’s some industry advice that was given to me from a few music producers I’ve worked with… “don’t let the mother f***kers take you down”, “opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one” and to “own your own publishing.”
Clearly they’ve been burnt! My own advice to myself and others is to “fight for what you believe in and keep your promises.”
“The best advice I think I’ve received, and have been most receptive to, is to try to focus more on the music and less on the business. It’s really easy to spend all your time looking at SOCAN forms and paperwork, thinking about networking, and freaking out about how many tickets you’ve sold to an upcoming show.
If you can’t keep the music front and center – the reason any of us signed up for this crazy business – then it’s basically a miserable office job, but with more opportunities to make bad health choices. It’s helped me focus on what’s sustainable, attainable, and manageable instead of overextending myself too far or burning out on the shoulda/coulda/woulda.”
“The best advice I ever received in my music career is: “Connect” – Granny
This is the advice I receive from my grandparents on a regular basis. I draw my music from my spiritual practice of connecting with my ancestors and with nature, so I love songwriting and I always have more ideas than I have time to work with. However, when it comes time to record or perform, sometimes I feel a lot of pressure to deliver something perfect, and the resulting stress can sabotage my performance. Sometimes with songs that I’ve sung a million times, my mind may also wander and start worrying about the next thing I have to do. I have found that the more I focus on connecting spiritually in the moment, the more I’m able to both enjoy the experience and deliver my best performance.”
“Some of the best advice I’ve received can be split into two categories, one being on the creative side, and one being more of the business side.
When it comes to the creative part, I was once told to just keep writing. Not everything you do will be great or even good, but as long as you’re improving and learning you’ll keep moving forward.
On the business side, I was told “don’t always be selling”, particularly on social media. Don’t make everything “check out my new song”, “come to my show”, “click on this link.” It’s a give and take, try to add some value in, or things of interest to others. For example, things you’re currently listening to, give some shout outs to other bands or artists, behind the scenes content…which is a great way to create connections and relationships, instead of just pushing your music.”
“I think the best piece of advice that I’ve received – and learned along the way, has been to enjoy the journey, not the end result. I talk about this all the time because it’s honestly made a huge impact on how I approach each day in the music industry. It’s so important to take a step back, and be proud of where you are, acknowledging where you came from. There will always be new goals to meet, there will always be successes and failures, you just have to appreciate every minute of the road you’re on.”
“I think the best advice I ever received in my music career came from my producer James Bunton. When we started working together, I spent a lot of energy trying to fit neatly into a genre. In my mind, I felt like being classifiable projected confidence about my self-identity and would help make me marketable. In my defense, the first question most “industry people” ask is who you sound like.
James was the first person to tell me that real art grants permission, so I should let excitement be my compass for creation. The great songs and art that have longevity are built on a foundation of the artists’ genuine passion and excitement for what they’re creating, and the result is usually a bit polarizing. It evokes strong feelings that either cause people to fall in love or decide it’s not at all for them. The forgettable work falls somewhere in the middle. I think all that cataloguing by genre and “sound alike” information should be considered AFTER the songs are made and probably left up to the listeners, to be honest. I don’t have this advice mastered yet, but I actively think about it with every new song I write. “
“I did a music incubator program five years ago, and we learned everything about how to manage ourselves, make pitches, negotiate performance payment, improve social media, etc etc etc. All of that is useful and meaningful, but I think the most stand-out advice I received in my time there was from Vel Omazic.
He was talking to us about some other business part of the music industry, but if you’ve ever met Vel you know he is very real, and he just sort of stopped and was like – “but none of that matters unless you have a great song!” It’s simple and it’s obvious, but when you’re an artist who’s running their art as a business it’s so easy to get swept up into all of the other industry responsibilities you’ve given yourself. I think of those words often, and pull myself back, because at the end of the day what I’m doing is making music – and making good music, making a great song, is the most important part of my job. Thanks Vel!”
I’m Jenna, the founder, and editor of Canadian Beats. I have had a strong love for Canadian music, which started many years ago. I have a passion for promoting these talented Canadian bands and artists, and that’s how Canadian Beats came to be.