This week In the Hot Seat with Larry LeBlanc: Shauna de Cartier, founder and president, Six Shooter Records/Six Shooter Management.
Six Shooterís smirky slogan nails down what the Toronto-based label and affiliated management firm is all about.
ďLife is too short to listen to shitty music.Ē
Meanwhile, Six Shooterís founder/president Shauna de Cartier is something of a paradox.
A MBA executive originally from Edmonton, with seemingly ceaseless energy, she is also a devout music fan who has already put her stamp on a body of great music over the past decade.
Though not a musician herself, de Cartier seems to have a natural rapport with artists, and instinctively knows how to develop their musical dreams against the challenges of the modern music marketplace.
After seeing an industry showcase set by Luke Doucetís band Veal at Canadian Music Week in Toronto in 1999, she signed the ultra-talent singer/guitarist to a management agreement.
Unable to interest a label in signing Doucet, de Cartier--by now living in Toronto-- launched Six Shooter Records a year later, also signing guitarist Martin Tielli of the Rheostatics.
Her reputation for integrity, and attention to detail has since attracted to the label for recording such critically-acclaimed acts as: Richard Buckner, Elliott BROOD, the Rheostatics, Christine Fellows, NQ Arbuckle, Ford Pier, Valery Gore, Justin Rutledge, Wendy McNeill; and, more recently, the Deep Dark Woods, Del Barber, Danny Michel, Whitehorse, Amelia Curran, Jenn Grant, the Strumbellas, Joe Nolan, and Harlan Pepper.
Six Shooter Management has earned an international reputation for its hands-on approach and bolstering artists on its roster with ceaseless touring opportunities.
Largely overseen by de Cartierís partner Helen Britton, a British ťmigrť, the management arm handles Whitehorse (Including its members Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland separately), the Good Lovelies, the Deep Dark Woods, the Beauties, Tanya Tagaq, and Martin Tielli. The company also co-manages Harlan Pepper, and Amelia Curran.
De Cartier is currently chair of Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), and vice-chair of the Radio Starmaker Fund, both in Toronto; and is on the board of the Americana Music Association in Nashville.
What staff do you have?
Well, thereís Helen and myself, and we have three full-time people, and one part-time person.
Six Shooter is both a label and a management company. My guess is that the management makes money, the label doesnít.
Yes. Thatís a pretty good guess. We also have a festival now, the Interstellar Rodeo (in Edmonton). We did the second one this year.
Who do you manage?
We manage Whitehorse including Luke Doucet, and Melissa McClelland individually. We manage the Good Lovelies. the Beauties, Deep Dark Woods, and Martin Tielli. We co-manage Amelia Curran with Heather Gibson. We co-manage Harlan Pepper with Tom Wilson and Madeline Wilson. We just recently took on (management) of Tanya Tagaq.
Sheís not signed to the label.
No, but we might end up signing her to the label because itís easier for us, although I would probably create a new imprint because putting an Inuk throat singer on an Americana label doesnít really make sense, does it?
Do you do publishing?
Yes. The label does publishing.
You generally offer 360 type deals to artists signing to the label?
Every deal is different. We donít publish all of the artists that we work with. We donít manage all of the artists that we work with. In some cases, we arenít the label for the artists we work with.
Few indie music labels today can survive just on record sales. A label has to have at least management and, perhaps, some publishing.
When we started we couldnít justify taking publishing. I didnít even know what publishing was. I think Iíve got a better picture of it now. I donít publish Luke Doucet, for example, because Iíve been managing him for 14 years. It would just seem weird to say now, ďLuke, I want your publishing.Ē
Your label tends to be older artists with some history. You donít usually work with newbie younger artists.
Iíve just signed a couple of artists that are young. Joe Nolan is 22, and the guys in Harlan Pepper just all turned 21 this year.
A bit of a first for you.
Well, it looks that way on the surface. When you look at the artists that Iíve released, I have typically been involved in either their debut record or an early recording.
Generally, the artists that youíve signed have matured a bit before coming to the label.
Yeah. Thatís certainly the case with Amelia (Curran) and with Danny Michel. With Martin Tielli, Six Shooter did release his debut solo record (ďWe Didn't Even Suspect That He Was the Poppy SalesmanĒ in 2001) but, of course, there were all those years (he had) with the Rheostatics. With Luke Doucet, he had one Veal record at the point that I started working with him.
Still Luke had years touring and recording with Sarah McLachlan.
Sure, okay. Like Elliot BROOD released his debut full-length (ďAmbassadorĒ in 2005) and Christine Fellows I put out her second record (ďThe Last One StandingĒ in 2002).
What Iím getting at is that you arenít saying to artists, ďIím going to make you into a star,Ē which a lot of 18-24 year olds want to hear. You are saying, ďIím going to help you make the record that you want to make.Ē
To more mature artists, perhaps, more grounded in reality.
I guess everybody has a different level of reality.
Still, you do allow artists to record the music they want to record.
Definitely. I want the artists to make the records that are in their hearts to make. If thatís going to end up being a worldwide hit, thatís fantastic. But thatís not the first goal. The first goal is always to serve the art. When you talk about the maturity of a lot of the artists on the label, I guess I have a little bit of a prejudice against younger songwriters. I somehow think that they havenít had enough experience to really put their thoughts forward in song.
Coming out with Harlan Pepper, and Joe Nolan, which is going to happen in January and February (2014), those are young artists that I do think that are already developed to the point that the level of their songwriting is worthy of everybodyís ears.
Not that everybody (on the label) is super-old or anything. Generally, itís people in their 20s. I do know what you are saying. I do look for a level of maturity in an artist, whatever age that they arrive at that. That might be 20, or it might be 30 something.
Is there a common character trait or thread to the releases on the label?
The releases tend to reflect my own personal taste. So I guess that there is a character (trait). I always look for something that is more progressive. I work largely in roots music, but not exclusively. All of the releases have had something to offer in that they broke new ground in some ways.
You donít fret about radio airplay for your records?
Radio is great when you can get it. But that hasnítÖ
That hasnít been a consideration in signing an artist or releasing a record?
No. Not at all. I go for records that I think stand-up to my slogan, ďLife is too short to listen to shitty music.Ē Certainly, I am looking for artists that I think will get the critical acclaim. Those are rarely radio records.
Music to attract the print media for the most part?
Print media, yeah, and we have a lot more avenues now with the internet being important as it is as a tool to market, and with video being more important than ever. So we have new ways of getting music out to people.
With its concentration of music-related print media, the UK must be an important market for Six Shooter.
It is, and we tend to focus on the press there because thatís where it is really valuable. The sales market in the UK is pretty tough. Itís pretty bleak. But their press is read internationally, and has an international impact.
Both on the management and label sides, your artists seem to be continually touring.
It is always important to me that the artists that I work with can deliver live. How we sell records is through touring. If their live show isnít world-class, thatís not going to be a successful way to go about it.
Even more specifically, and I wouldnít say I hit it out of the park every single time Iíve released a record, but I really look for artists who I think stand out lyrically. What they have to say, and how they are saying it is important. Artists who have a message. I am not necessarily talking about a pedantic message, but that they have a view of the world and want to convey an expression or a story that is a little different, and the way they do it is with the utmost of their craft.
You havenít done much licensing of non-Canadian product for the label.
Well, I have done something licensing for Canada only where Iím only the label. Iím open to that if I think that itís going to be a worthwhile project
Still, you havenít done much licensing from outside sources.
No. That probably hasnít been my focus because I have a managerís head first. I first think as a manager so thatís always my interest. Iím probably going to do more of that (licensing). I am starting to pursue those avenues more and more. because I would like to release more records than we are releasing. I think we have the capacity to do so, but we donít necessarily have the product.
Licensing music from outside Canada could also provide greater networking opportunities for your roster.
Absolutely. There are a lot of reasons to pursue that.
Six Shooter may be a Canadian-based label, but it isnít necessarily a Canadian label in its audience reach.
No. We sell records all over the world. We are really active, particularly in the U.S. itís been a real focus of mine for the past 5 years.
How much of your label business is from the internet? Do you do direct mailing from your site?
We do. We have always done that. I am seeing a resurgence in it a little bit. Where I am really seeing a resurgence, or an increase, is people who are coming directly to our site to buy digital files rather than going to iTunes. I canít explain it, but Iím seeing that happening. Overall, digital represents about 60% of our business.
It is. We have always performed better on the digital side than on the physical side throughout our history.
Largely because music consumers canít always find your music in stores?
Thatís right. The larger part of our physical business happens off stage. We are a little bit more established now, and we get a bit more attention at retail than we used to, so we are getting a certain piece of the pie on the physical side at record stores. Itís probably 40% physical, and 60% digital and, in some cases. Itís even higher.
What percentage of digital sales come from iTunes or Spotify?
Well Spotify doesnít exist in Canada yet. Itís really all about iTunes still. And the fastest growing source of revenue isnít Spotify; itís YouTube.
Are your digital sales mostly albums or single tracks?
We sell albums and singles. Can you buy the whole catalog for this amount of money? We havenít started doing that. I donít know if we will. We are still following the physical format in terms of how we are selling stuff.
Who handles distribution of Six Shooter Records?
Well, in Canada, itís Warners. In the U.S., itís Burnside Distribution. Through their affiliates, we are digitally distributed through The Orchard. In Europe, we try to license our albums out to other labels. We have found that trying to distribute and release records ourselvesówhich we did for many years through ADA Globalóthat we are able to figure out how to put our bands out on tour in Europe, but to run a label remotely just hasnít succeeded. So we look for partners to release in Europe.
What distribution have you had in Europe?
We first started working with different distributors such as RSK (UK) and Bertus (Benelux). We then did a pan-European deal with Rounder. In 2010, we moved to Ryko International as it was called then, headed by Colleen Theis. Later, the company became ADA Global. We were with them until 2012. We moved to actively find label partners in Europe, though we still have the option of releasing through Burnside Distributionís export program, digitally through Burnside via The Orchard. In 2012, we released some of our titles. Amelia Curran, Jenn Grant, and Whitehorse, in Germany through Blue Rose Records.
The Deep Dark Woods are with Sugar Hill in Europe and America, and Danny Michelís record (ďBlack Birds Are Dancing Over MeĒ with the Garifuna Collective) is out on Cumbancha Records (in the U.S.). We are still releasing Whitehorse records ourselves for the most part.
So now you are seeking territory by territory releases for Europe?
Yeah. Blue Rose Records (in Germany) have been really big fans of Luke Doucet. I think thatís how they became turned on to Six Shooter. For years and years, they had wanted to release our records and weíve always been in the situation of, ďNo. We are doing it (distribution) ourselves.Ē Then, when we decided to change that around and look for partners, we said, ďOkay, why donít you give it a shot?Ē So we have licensed a number of titles to him (Blue Rose founder/owner Torsten Hartmann).
How do you oversee bookings of your management clients in Europe?
Being British, Helen certainly has a level of contacts which is excellent in the UK. We do have different booking agents there just like we do in Canada. Good Lovelies, and Amelia Curran, for example, are represented by Bob Paterson (BPA), and the Deep Dark Woods are represented by WME (William Morris Endeavor). For Whitehorse, Helen has been doing that directly. We do work with bookers in other European territories. Sandra Zuidema at LDM Bookings in The Netherlands handles Amelia Curran, and Philippe Hauden at Tramengo in France handles Whitehorse, and Amelia Curran. All of our artists that are working in the U.S. have American agents.
You moved from Edmonton, Alberta to Toronto in 2000. Why?
I was working in music and my husband was working in film as an art director. We thought weíd either move to Los Angeles, New York, Vancouver or Toronto. America just wasnít an option. We couldnít figure out how to get green cards. Out of those two (Canadian) options, we felt that there was the most opportunity in Toronto. Starting in music in Edmonton, I have never worked for another (Canadian) music company.
Were you asked?
Well, no because I arrived on the (Toronto) scene with own label and management company going on. I never interned for anyone. I was never anyoneís assistant.
You did ask True North Records founder/owner Bernie Finkelstein if heíd be a mentor.
There are so many things that attracted me to Bernie Finkelstein. First of all, him having a Canadian-based independent label, the oldest independent label in Canada, I think True North has that distinction. Thatís very much what I am doingóbeing an independent label in Canadaówhich is a lot more common nowadays.
Did you also admire his long-standing management of Bruce Cockburn, which spans over 40 years and continues to today.
Yes, Bernie always seemed to me to be the type of manager, and person who really identified with the artist. What is important to him is the art and he allows the artistóBruce Cockburn has been all over the place in terms of his artistic exploration, and Bernie has supported him throughout all of those different twists and turns that he has taken. Bernie is very eloquent. Heís very charismatic. He just personifies everything that I admire. I think if I could be as successful as Bernie Finkelstein, then that is something to shoot for. Of course, many people have had that level of success but not so many with the character and flavor that Bernie Finkelstein has.
Are there other music industry figures that have influenced you?
My experience has been largely Canadian in that respect, and I do point to people like Bernie as well as Holger Petersen (Stony Plain Records) who is a great example too. As well, there has been Al Mair, Harvey Glatt, Richard Flohil, and the late Steve Propas. I have really learned a lot from all of those people. I also I feel that they have welcomed me to their world.
When you launched the label and management company, you entered an old boysí club.
I think there still is an old boysí club to some degree and, maybe I am just oblivious, but I donít really feel that Iím not part of the scene even though Iím a woman. I donít get invited to golf games or strip clubs.
You have to work within a male-dominated community.
Yeah. A tip of the hat to the women who had careers before me, and who fought so hard to be accepted in the business. I have generally found that (being a woman) is not an impediment to success.
As the label and management has grown, youíve have had significant international experience. Are there other people who have greatly impressed you?
I have met so many wonderful people all over the place. (UK broadcaster) Bob Harris is a big mentor, and inspiration to me. Of course, heís not at a label and heís not a manager, but heís somebody that I revere. Maybe the reason that I respect and love him so much is because of his affinity toward the artist, and I share that with him. Heís been very encouraging to me in the past. So heís stands out as one of my heroes for sure on the international scene.
There are a lot of people that I would like to be. I saw an interview with Jac Holzman (founder and former head of Elektra Records) when I was in the UK one time. It happened at the (London) Apple store (in 2010). I heard him, and I thought, ďBoy, I wish I knew that guy.Ē Heís amazing. I briefly met Don Was at the NonComm Radio convention in Philadelphia in May 2013. I saw his keynote speech, and I totally fell for him. This guy is just incredible. So there are still a lot of people out there for me to meet.
Helen Britton is your co-partner?
Yes. Helen is 50/50 partner in the management company, and she a minority stakeholder in the record label.
You have another label partner?
Back in 2009, we sold part of my company to an investor, John MacDonald. It was at a crucial time for the label.
Why the need to sell?
I needed the cash.
Had the company expanded too quickly?
I donít know if I can accurately answer that question. I was certainly overextended.
Helen started as an assistant to you in 2003?
Yeah. I shared office space with five other women down at Queen and Broadview (in Toronto). When I had a baby (Fabienne). I had my own company and thereís no mat (maternity) leave. Even if there was, who was going to run the business?
Were the other women working at Six Shooter?
No. It was Melissa Greiner who was managing By Divine Right; Heather Pollock who was managing Sarah Slean; Linda Woods who was working with Lowest of the Low; and myself and Helen who was working with Todor Kobakov and Tory Cassis.. She had 5 or 6 jobs at the time. She was really young, and she was just doing everything she could to make ends meet. She ran Sheeba Records, Jane Siberryís label, for awhile. She did books for another record label. She had a job working in a bar. She worked merch. She worked the door. She worked really, really hard at a lot of different jobs.
[From Lichfield, Staffordshire in England, Helen Britton studied International Management with American business studies at the University of Manchester Institute of. Science and Technology (UMIST) in Manchester. She was an exchange student at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in 1997/98. She moved to Canada permanently in 1999. She soon landed a job at Zomba Records Canada as a receptionist, and became executive assistant to the companyís president, Laura Bartlett, and worked as an assistant in its promotion department. Then she worked briefly at Pandyamonium Management.]
Did you and Helen immediately bond? Bringing an outsider on staff at that point was a big step.
It was a really big step. I could only afford one assistant for 12 hours a week. Thatís all that I could afford at that time. I asked her if she wanted that job. She took it and we started working together
Itís funny because we had been sharing office space for a couple of years but we didnít really know each other that well. Then I had the baby I didnít have much option but to bring the baby into work with me for 10 hours a day. I didnít ask the women I shared office space with. I just didnít have any other choice and they were all so wonderful and supportive. Nobody complained. All of a sudden thereís a crying baby in their midst. Helen, who loves babiesóher mom was a midwifeówas just always over on my side of the office helping out. If I was on the phone, sheíd take the baby.
I remember you bringing your daughter to MIDEM.
Thatís right. I brought her to MIDEM in 2004. I wanted to go to MIDEM, and Helen was going to be over in Europe on her Christmas vacation visiting her family. I said, ďIf I pay your way from London to Cannes, and give you a per diem, and you can stay in the apartment that I had rented, would you come?Ē Sheíd go to the (MIDEM) conference in the mornings, and represent her clients. Then I would meet her, and she would take the baby for the rest of the day and for the evenings too because I would have meetings and dinners and stuff. She was just amazing.
When you click with somebody like that itís wonderful. Itís hard to beÖI think one of the reasons why itís such a male dominated world is that when you take time out to have children you lose ground in your career.
For women with children, it can difficult balancing the different parts of their lives.
Very difficult. Even finances aside, just taking yourself out of the scene. I didnít have the opportunity to do that anyway. The fact that I had children (Fabienne, and her younger sister Indira) didnít really disrupt my working life that much.
There are people in our industry who refuse to work with women with young children.
I surprisingly didnít go through that. The Rheostatics asked me to manage them when I was six months pregnant. I said to Dave (Bidini), ďYou know that Iím pregnant, right?Ē Maybe there were some situations where it was, ďOh, sheís a mom. Therefore sheís probably not going to be as effective.Ē But I will never know if that was the case.
In those early years in Toronto, you also worked as a publicist, including for the Be Good Tanyas.
Be Good Tanyas, yes. I did the ďBlue HorseĒ campaign (in 2000). I did Feistís ďMonarchĒ (in 1999), and Kinnie Starrís Tune-UpĒ in 2000. I ended up starting a separate PR company called Gun Street Media, and we worked Arcade Fire, ďNeon BibleĒ (2007) for Canada. That company still runs. We are still doing projects such as Belle Starr, for example. Emily Smart is doing the PR through Gun Street Media.
You are currently the chair of the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA).
I have been chair for a year. Itís been pretty active on the advocacy front. I have really learned a lot.
You are also on the board of the Americana Music Association.
I think I am their first international board member. I ran a year ago, and my first board retreat was in January 2013.
An eye-opener being in the room with your American counterparts?
Yeah. There are some very good people on that board. I have been going to that conference for 9 or 10 years. It has really grown. They work hard to build up what they are doing. I have a lot of respect for the board, the staff, and I love the festival, the conference, and the awards. In terms of an eye-opener, it certainly was a different perspective of what we are used to in the non-profit world in Canada because there are no (government artist) grants (in the U.S). They have to be a lot craftier, I think, and somewhat more aggressive to succeed because they donít have the kind of infrastructure that we have in Canada to tease some of these things we do. So it is a little bit closer to the bone (in the U.S)..
In some quarters, thereís the perception that much of the Canadian music industry is dependent on government/private broadcaster support, and that Canadian labels, managers and publishers are like hogs at the trough lining up for recording and tour support.
Yeah, there is definitely a misconception that everything is 100% funded. The other thing that I guess the Canadian funding system allows is for a full record label like mine to pay artists properly; to pay musicians properly. When they go into the studio, we pay them to go into the studio. As a result, our records cost more to make than they do in Australia, for example or America. But is it such a bad thing that artists are actually get paid?
Could you exist as a company without FACTOR funding?
I think that certainly I would existócould and would. We didnít start getting FACTOR funding until I had been around for probably four years.
Do you have direct board funding from FACTOR today?
And if you didnít have that government/private radio funding?
I wouldnít be able to take as many chances as I take in terms of some of the artists we work with. Sometimes, I release records because I believe in the art. I know that I am not going to sell very many units. I know that Iím going to lose money, but itís art thatís worthy to my resources that I can put to it. I have done that for a number of artists. I just recently released a Nick Buzz record (ďA Quiet Evening At HomeĒ with Martin Tielli, Hugh Marsh, Rob Piltch, and Jonathan Goldsmith) that I will not make money on but Martin Tielli is such an important artist in Canada that if heís going to do something Iím going to be involved with it.
From 2006 to 2009, Six Shooter operated its own retail store on Queen Street East in Toronto.
I would re-open the store if I had the right space. I loved having a store. The vibe of a record store is just so great. Where people come in, and they want to talk about music. They want to buy music. They want to hear music. They are excited about music. Itís one of the great things about record stores is thatís where those sorts of things happen.
The store specialized in independent Canadian music.
I called all of my friends that had independent record labels and said, ďWe want to carry your product. We want to carry your entire catalog.Ē Because so often now you can only get the current recordóif you can find a record at all in a record store. You canít buy the back catalog unless itís a gold-selling artist. Thatís how we organized our record shelves. We had a shelf for Arts & Crafts. We had a shelf for Stony Plain, and we put out everything they had on their shelf.
There was just a real sense of community in that store. We also sold books about music. We sold T-shirts with our slogan which as really popular. We had parties there. We had gallery showings. It was a really great place.
You moved the office in 2009.
Yeah, the store was great but our offices were the one bedroom apartment above the store, and there were six of us working out of that. It was so oppressive and so cramped. We just needed to move. And the store was only 5% of our overall business.
You grew up in Edmonton, Alberta. What makes it such a great music town? The clubs, the Edmonton Folk Festival, or the cold weather?
That is a big part of it, and Luke will say the same thing about Winnipeg (Manitoba). If you are basically stuck in your basement for six months of the year, you really have to look at what is right there in front of you and how you can make the best of that. Itís not an expensive city to live in. People do have a little bit of extra money to spend on concert tickets and that kind of thing.
Thereís also an untamed Western spirit in the air there.
Thereís very much that. My dad has said, ďYou know, we are really still a pioneer town.Ē What he meant by that is that people are still willing to help. That barn-raising attitude is there. They are still willing to lend a hand. On top of that, itís so cold that people can die from being out in that cold. You have to look out for your neighbor. I think it (the weather) does make people a little bit more aware of those around them. ďWeíre all living in this crazy northern town together, letís make the best of it.Ē So thereís a lot about the Edmonton spirit that I love and that I identify with. I realize thatís who I am, and thatís where I come from. When you move away from your hometown you really notice the things about how formative those attributes were.
Great community radio there too.
Oh yeah. CKUA is one of a kind.
What was Edmonton like growing up as a kid?
It was really fun. I come from a big family. I have five brothers, and sisters. Iím number five. My dad was a teacher and then worked in the education system.
What music did you grow up with?
I was really listening to a lot of music from the concerts I was going to when I was in school. It was a lot of metal. I saw Rush five times before I turned 18. I loved that band. I still love that band. I went and saw Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Ted Nugent, Blue Oyster Cult. Then I kind of got into New Wave when it came out. I was a real big fan of Yaz. The Edmonton Folk Festival was really influential on my tastes in music. I started going to that festival with my friends when I was in junior high school. I just love it so much. I was exposed to all kinds of music that I would never have seen in any other way. I have tons and tons of love for that festival.
As Edmontonís metal queen did you wear dark makeup?
Oh sure. In the Ď80s, I used to backcomb my hair. That was way before I was involved in the music. I got started in the music business quite late. I didnít get started until I was 32 or 33.
Was managing Captain Tractor your entry to the music business?
Yeah. I had a really great job. I had moved several jobs, and I was working at the Commonwealth Stadium as the marketing director. They offered me a promotion to be the marketing director for all of parks and rec (recreation) in the city. It was a big job. I actually had a number of job offers that week which was unusual because I really wasnít looking for a job. One of the job offers was from my friends in Captain Tractor, who played my wedding a number of years before. They were my buddies. They had asked me to manage them before and I always said, ďNo. Itís not enough money. Iím putting my husband through school.Ē But because I had this situation where I had all these (job) options I thought, ďWhat am I going to do?Ē That was the closest thing to what I wanted to do. It surprised everybody.
Captain Tractor is a very cool band.
They are truly an indie band. That word now is ubiquitous and overused. But Captain Tractor started their own label before any band started their own label. They, in fact, basically started their own distribution company, I guess in the same way that Stephen Pageís dad (Victor Page) started Page Distribution. They worked with Melanie Cheek and Spirit River Distribution, and they were the main band. Just the way they did everything, they really had a lot of ingenuity, and creatively. Now we look at Kickstarter as a (funding) platform for pre-sale, but those guys were doing it (pre-funding of projects) back in the Ď90s, collecting peoplesí checks for $20 and their names in the liner notes and sending them the record as soon as it was done. They worked hard. I learned a lot from Chris (Wynters) and Scott (Peters), in particular.
Did Captain Tractor sell well?
Cumulatively they sold more than 100,000 (units) on five or six records.
A decade after graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta in 1988, you earned a MBA degree there.
I did the MBA part-time. So I worked full-time jobs while I did that. So it took four years I think. I was probably the only student in that program with an arts background. Everybody else was either an engineer or worked in public health or government.
Why a MBA?
I guess because Iím ambitious and Iím competitive and I want to get ahead in the corporate world, and I need that.
One of your jobs was working at The Phoenix Theatre.
That really was my first job. I was a publicist.
You have returned to Edmonton with Interstellar Rodeo at Hawrelak Park. Why risk a festival where you can really lose your shirt?
A festival is where I could really lose my shirt. But that didnít happen (this year). It did the first year, but thatís to be expected, and we made most of that money back in the second year. Next year, I think that it will be totally in the black.
Still why do a festival?
Well, live music is where itís happening
I am assuming you wouldnít previously know much about running a festival.
I wouldnít be so sure about that. I have a lot of event experience. In fact, I have done an event at this very venue. Years and years of artist management, you really learn production. You learn lots of things. So it wasnít really as stretch for us. I thought it was going to be harder. It wasnít hard at all.
Is it satisfying putting bums in the seats in your hometown?
The festival in Edmonton is so much more than that. It really is quite special. Thereís the vibe of the festival, and the quality of the music. Itís got a very non-corporate awesome vibe to it that is so joyful. People who I donít know were hugging me, and saying, ďThank you for putting this on.Ē They just love it. It is a real coming together of the community. Itís my hometown. My family and all of my friends all helped. Everybody has such a good time. We do wine pairings with artists. The fact that it makes money on top of that is just such a bonus. So itís been a really satisfying project.
Larry LeBlanc is widely recognized as one of the leading music industry journalists in the world. Before joining CelebrityAccess in 2008 as senior editor, he was the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard from 1991-2007 and Canadian editor of Record World from 1970-89. He was also a co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record.
Larry is the recipient of the 2013 Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who have made an impact on the Canadian music industry. He is a board member of the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia, Ontario.
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