It has been a long time since I have sat down and wrote a blog. For that I am going to apologize. However some recent events have gotten my juices flowing and have given me something to write about. As you can see by the title, we are going to focus on unity in the music industry, something that I have written about in the past, but some recent events have really fueled my feelings and given me something to write about using some real life examples.
First off, if you are new to Break Loose Entertainment or Lance Ryan...please, allow me a chance to explain where I have come from and where we are now as a company.
I started out in the Ontario music industry back about 7 years ago now. I was working for an outfit that most musicians have heard of before, a company that believed in "Battles" and "prizes" and "competition" within our music industry. For about a year, I did things their way and then I really started to realize that things were not on the up and up and that they were not fostering the kinds of things that were needed in the music industry, or on a larger scale, in most industries. Those things being teamwork and unity. I spent another year working for said company before I decided to break off and do my own thing. I felt that there were far better ways to do things...far better ways to grow that didn't revolve around making bags of money off of the artists. That is how we have landed where we are now.
Break Loose is a company that I have always tried to make live up to the name. Break loose of the status quo, break loose from being a musician that is not making any money, break loose from the old boys club where it is believed that you must play X amount of shows before you can make money...in large part...break loose of the shackles of what the music industry has become. What I saw was an industry where promoters brought in big bands and paid big bucks and then made smaller, newer artists pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for the "opportunity" to perform 3 hours before said headliner.
Money has been made off of the backs of young artists forever now. Whether it be "pay to play" in the form of battles or "pay to play" for exposure while paying off promoters debts to headliner bands.
It wasn't always like this. I grew up in Oshawa and when I was young we went to all ages shows every chance that we got. A chance to go out, a chance to see live music and a chance to find our new favorite bands that nobody had ever heard of. That is how it should be and sadly that is not the way that it has been.
I have been at this now for many years, but I feel that in our own little corner of the music industry, Break Loose Entertainment is helping those artists to grow, make some money and learn how to do even better. For an example of this, I will look at a show that we had this weekend in London. London has long been one of the markets that I feel "gets it" and this weekend's show proved it. We put together an incredible lineup of artists, we did it on a SUNDAY and we did it without a major ground shaking headliner. I can tell you that the venue was happy, the artists were happy and everyone grew because of it. We had over 100 tickets sold for the show, we had fans stick around to support bands that they had never heard of, we had bands work together and supporting one another and as a SHOCKER everyone had a great time. THIS is how things should be at shows.
Unfortunately, as we all know...it is not.
Lately I have heard it all. I will obviously not mention names, but I have had one particular response to the key values of Break Loose lately that blew my mind. When I laid out what our expectations are, one of those is that artists stay at the show and support one another, I was responded to by an older band with something like this...I paraphrase...
If I can play my set, be done by 8pm and can go home and sleep before work the next day, that is what I am going to do.
Needless to say, I did not book the band.
If you are all about showing up late, loading in whilst another band is performing, playing your set and bailing whilst someone else is on stage, there is not a place for you on our shows. Of course there are circumstance that prevent some artists from staying all night sometimes, but the attitude expressed above truly makes me sick. There should not be a place on our music scene for that type of mentality. Want to be in bed by 10pm? Don't play a show. Seems pretty simple to me.
The reason that our show in London and many of our shows in general tend to leave artists, fans and venue alike happy is that we promote an atmosphere where artists of all ages, sizes and genres can succeed, network and grow.
One thing that I mention always is the mentality that comes up often and that I hear frequently. That is "we need to play in Toronto". The reality is that you do not. If you are from London or Hamilton or Kitchener or a small town in Northern Ontario...blow your scene up. Work together with local promoters and local bands and make the people in the industry that you want to impress NOTICE YOU.
If the London scene, for example, blows up...do you need to play in Toronto where those people may see you? No. Make them come to you. It doesn't matter where you are from, how old you are or what venue you are playing at. Create a buzz. It's so cliche, but if you build it, they will come.
Until next time...SUPPORT LOCAL ARTS!