Thursday, September 2, 2004

Show him the money. So to speak.
Evan Newman, a publicist with V2 in Canada and manager of Jill Barber and the Tangiers among others, has his Jerry Maguire moment in this e-mail, sent earlier today, to about six dozen Canadian music industry types (including Bernie Finkelstein, Denise Donlon, Deane Cameron, etc).

From: Evan.Newman@v2music.com
Sent: Thursday, September 2, 2004 12:20 PM
Cc: (recipients)
Subject: My Fellow Members of Canadian Music

I am writing to you as a music fan and as a person  who makes his living in the music industry as both an artist manager and an  employee of a record label.
The hope is that the following words will spark  discussion and debate amongst all people at all levels of the music business, from music journalists, to club owners, to labels and managers.
I believe that we, as a whole, have the ability to  establish Canada as innovators and trend setters in the global music industry.  Over the past 2 years, we've had some of our finest talents achieve success  on a global level; Broken Social Scene, Hot Hot Heat, The  Hidden Cameras, The New Pornographers and many others. The  common thread that connects these artists is that they are Canadian  independent artists who are signed here to indies or signed in the US or Europe, achieved success elsewhere before gaining notoriety in Canada.
Our common practice over these years  seems to be an attempt at duplicating what other territories have imported to  us. We have bands currently in Canada who could be classified as the  next Jet, or next Franz Ferdinand, or Strokes and the list can go on. It seems  as though the major labels pass on the innovative talent that we have for the  sake of an imitation of an already existing international artist. We've begun to  see some of the majors take the initiative and take risks as indicated  in the recent international success or recognition of Buck 65, K-OS  and Billy Talent. But for these 3 acts, there are artists like Death  From Above 1979, Feist and Metric who must go elsewhere to make a  living.
We have to set trends rather then follow them,  begin investing in our unique and diverse talent rather then leaving them no  choice but to look elsewhere for deals. Our current radio climate has to change  as programmers and music directors must start taking risks as well. There is to  much of a reliance on US stations and radio is constantly looking for Canadian  equivalents to successful American radio artists or support "core" Canadian  acts who have passed their prime long ago. We as a music industry, owe it to  consumers to provide them with innovative new music. If independent labels and  artists had major label funding and marketing ability then more people would be  buying records and not just downloading songs.
There seems to be  a sense of urgency to cash  in on the latest trend and artist development has become nonexistent.  Independent bands seem to grow with every record as opposed to major label  artists who are pushed down the consumers throat and then seemingly disappear by  the time their second record rolls around, if it ever does.
Managers are also a culprit of what has become a  disposable music scene. As both a manager and A&R, I see an all too common  scenario where management companies or individuals will pit labels against  each other in an effort to secure the most money for their artist forsaking any  attempts at developing the artist. We (labels) are our own worst enemy  when it comes to signing bands way before their ready and throwing them out to  the masses with sub-par efforts. While we're out trying to sign and release the  next Jet who have played 4 shows in Toronto, a band like Despistado are playing  100 shows a year and developing their sound and abilities and signing to a US  label.
Most majors are getting involved by having P&D  deals with indies and this should be applauded. However, our Canadian  independent bands have become our biggest musical export and should be  cultivated and exploited here rather then having to sign elsewhere and be  exported back to us.
The advice I hear bandied about most to young bands  is sign with an international territory before you sign with a Canadian label,  if you sign here at all. This is not a phenomenon that is not solely Canadian,  the Strokes signed with Rough Trade and broke in the UK before the US, same with  the White Stripes and XL. I think it's time that major labels start investing in  our unique talent, radio begins taking risks with their programming and we begin  challenging music consumers. Sure there will be a tough transition and  everything is easier said then done.
There are plenty of great young managers and great  young talent being developed in this country right under our noses. I  firmly believe that labels and artists will thrive once we are able to commit to  the establishment and development of career artists rather then the flash in the  pans.
Thank you and I hope we can open the forum with  this. I don't mean to be Jerry Maguire here I just think that we as industry and culture, have so much potential . I've only been in this industry for a short while and I'm guilty of this as well, I just wanted to bring it out there for people to chat about.


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