Musicians learn from the pros at the Music Ontario Seminar

by Chad Kirvan
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Musicians learn from the pros at the Music Ontario Seminar

Learning from the Pros

A seminar session hosted by Music Ontario provided countless musicians with need to know information on how to turn making music into a career. This life changing event was held at the Foundry and featured guest speakers: Rodney Murphy (SOCAN), Lee-Anne Wielonda (ACTRA RACS), Benji Rogers (PledgeMusic) and Liam Killeen (Coalition Music). This dream team lineup of experienced music professionals described and explained how they made a name for themselves in the industry, and revealed how others could do the same.

Musicians learn from the pros at the Music Ontario Seminar - Toronto

Benji Rogers

One of the biggest suggestions of the evening was made by Benji Rogers who said “Fans don’t just want what you did, they want what you’re doing” In saying this, Rogers told the audience that fans want to be involved from the start, whether that start is the beginning of the band, album, video or tour. Essentially, whatever the idea is, fans want to be a part of it, so much so that they will help you along the way. With this idea in mind, Rogers spoke on how bands and other artists can receive fan support through a website called PledgeMusic.

The extraordinary site allows fans to log on and pledge their support when an artist or group starts talking about a new challenge or project. These projects can be as simple as making a new album or as complex as performing on top of a mountain. As long as the idea is fluid the fans will help make it happen and PledgeMusic will be there to provide a platform for them to do so.

Of course this type of fan support is only effective if you have fans to help you, which is why Rogers reminded audience members how important it is to not only meet new fans on a regular basis, but also get their contact information so artists can reconnect with them in the future.

Aside from making money and building a fan base, (music manager) Liam Killeen told those in attendance to always remember the business side of the industry. “You are your own corporation” said Killeen “You are the CEO, the CFO. You handle all the social media and you are every employee. If I could make any recommendation, it would be to take your business seriously.” These wise words by Killeen reminded many in the crowd of one very important thing – the music business is in fact a real business.

It’s one thing to make something great, but at the end of the day, if you can’t sell what you have made or you can’t keep track of your money, eventually you will go broke and your dream will crash and burn. It’s a harsh reality, but as Killeen explained, the industry has changed so dramatically over the years that artists can no longer bank on being picked up by a music company and being made famous. In this day and age a good musician will be involved in every aspect of their business, and will be much more successful because of it.

Along with this extreme wake up call, Killeen also shared several success stories from bands like The Salads, who not only made a name for themselves but also made money because they took their career into their own hands.

In keeping with the idea of running your own music business, two speakers, Rodney Murphy and Lee-Anne Wielonda, told audience members about funds that artists often earn but rarely collect. These funds come from television broadcasting, radio plays, movie soundtracks and live performances after the initial music sale. The reason why these funds are rarely collected is because artists think that the initial sale of music completes the transaction with their client or buyer. Yet in reality, the buyer is required to pay for both the musical rights upfront and the use of musical track plays, each time they are used in the future.

Rodney Murphy - Musicians learn from the pros at the Music Ontario Seminar

While this may seem a little confusing, both Rodney Murphy and Lee-Anne Wielonda reassured artists that a lot of the legal issues and paperwork required to collect this money is often done by organizations like SOCAN and ACTRA RACS. In fact, all the artist really needs to do is apply to these organization and provide a few details. The sad thing is that many artists don’t apply with these organization because they think someone will just do it for them, or they are unaware of these programs.

Along with getting money back off promoters and venues, Rodney Murphy also explained how artists could get money for other corporations such as YouTube simply by monetizing their account. These small suggestions really make a big difference for bands and other artists that require additional money to help them accomplish their dreams.

After the seminar concluded, those in attendance had a chance to meet with each speaker and receive personalized advice on how to take their career to the next level. This type of one-on-one interaction really made this seminar a fantastic learning experience for everyone involved, and reminded artists of how great it is to have organizations like Music Ontario dedicating themselves to helping up and coming artists to achieve all of their goals.

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