• 2018 festival report card
    Articles,  Canadian Festival Report Card

    2018 Canadian Festival Report Card

    The 2018 Canadian Festival Report Card is here, and the results are heartening. Canadian Festival Report Card: 2018 Highlights 57 festivals were graded at an ‘A,’ up from 34 in 2017 113 festivals were graded Every province and territory in Canada is represented in this report card As a group, these 113 festivals get a ‘B’ grade, booking 43% women-identifying or non-binary artists (up from 36.5% women-identifying or non-binary artists in 2017) This is a big improvement, but we have questions: are women getting headlining slots? Are racialized and LGBTQ artists getting booked? Are women, racialized people, and LGBTQ people getting paid equally in comparison to their white, straight, Cis,…

  • Articles,  Big Ideas,  Canadian Festival Report Card

    The Big Count 2018 – Canadian Festival Report Card

    We need your help with The Big Count 2018 -for the Canadian Festival Report Card! La traduction française suit ci-dessous (nos excuses pour le mauvais français!) As we’ve done for the past few years (2016, 2017), we’re collecting data on festivals and music series to find out how many women-identifying, transgendered, and non-gender-binary people are being presented at festivals and concert series across Canada. What we need from you is to choose a festival that doesn’t appear on the list below and give us a link to their lineup online and a count of the number of women-fronted, men-fronted, transgendered-fronted and non-gender-binary-fronted people are included. It can be a festival that…

    Articles,  Big Ideas


    From a piece I wrote for Electric City Magazine: “The Canadian music industry is a diverse, varied place, but you wouldn’t know it from the endless parade of white guys with guitars wanking across the festival stages and conference panels of the nation. Over the past month, NXNE have been releasing the lineup for their Portlands festival, and the list, while appearing more racially diverse with the most recent release, is still very dude-heavy. With three women-fronted bands and one genderqueer artist out of 16 total acts released so far, I have to ask: where the fuck are the women, NorthBy?” Read the rest at Electric City Magazine.

  • Some thoughts about - and a good, green idea for - Music Submissions
    Articles,  Band Advice,  Big Ideas,  Events

    Some thoughts about – and a good, green idea for – Music Submissions

    There was a time, 15 years ago, when the wealth of CDs that suddenly started coming my way, as a full-time booker at a dive bar, was exciting and fun. Opening packages mailed from across the country was exciting – who knew what fabulous undiscovered gem was lurking inside that yellow padded envelope? Now I find myself looking at CDs – or any physical media music submissions – with a sense of weariness. The thrill of discovery is still strong, but it’s sometimes overwhelmed by the knowledge that every CD and paper package represents a use of resources that isn’t very smart or justifiable. I know there are some bookers/DJs/industry…

  • Articles,  Big Ideas,  Events,  Ontario

    Music City – A strategy

    The points I’ve included below – headlined ‘A Strategy for Music Peterborough‘ – was created with my hometown in mind, but swap out a few names and organizations and this would be useful in any city to frame the way you approach different sectors with a view to creating a cohesive push to highlight music (or, I think, almost any local art or cultural highlight) and create a Music City mentality. I’ve made a few edits from the original document to make explicit the sort of things that I take as a given, but which aren’t obvious to everyone (like gender parity, inclusion of racialized people, good working conditions, etc.). A…

  • Articles,  Band Advice

    A brief commentary on band websites and bios

    I get a bit frustrated when I’m working to promote a band and they don’t have what I need in an easily-accessible format.  Considering that all promoters are looking for the same things from artists, it always boggles my mind a bit when I can’t find what I’m looking for an an artist’s site, or when their bio is so poorly-written that it’s unusable.   Remember when writing your bio that you’re talking to several audiences – fans, bookers/promoters, and media.  Make sure that what you’re writing would be interesting and useful to those audiences – are there descriptive sentences that reporters and promoters can use to tell their audiences…

  • On not getting gigs or grants - ChocQuibTown at The Distillery District
    Articles,  Band Advice

    On not getting gigs or grants.

    The work I do means saying “No” a lot more than “Yes.” Whether I’m working as a booker or jurying a grant or award, the ability to say no clearly, politely, and unequivocally is one of the most valuable skills I’ve developed. As AD of the Peterborough Folk Festival, I’d generally get about 700-1000 submissions from musical acts, and I’d have 25 or so slots to fill.  At minimum, I’d be listening, evaluating, and saying “No” 675 times to hopeful artists who’d poured their time, energy, sweat, and cash into their work.  The jury for Artsweek Peterborough ((A festival which I saved from certain death, restructured, and ran for 2 years.)) got…

  • Articles,  Big Ideas,  Uncategorized

    On the cult of genius.

    The arts are full of abusive narcissists, people who are “soooo talented” that we’re told we have to overlook their bad behaviour and cherish their scarce genius. We have some prominent examples before us currently, but it plays out everywhere. These people are in every arts community, and they are endlessly destructive. They hoard resources and connections, they cut down their peers, they support no one but themselves.  Anyone who contradicts them is ostracized, shouted down, shut out. You don’t kiss the appropriate  ass, or – god forbid! – you offer an honest critical opinion of their work.  Suddenly you can’t access cheap rehearsal space,  you can’t find collaborators, you…

  • Secret Frequency
    Articles,  Band Advice,  Events

    What goes in an EPK?

    It’s Autumn, the time of year when an artist’s thoughts turn to next Summer’s gigs.  You’ve come off the road for the year, and you want to make sure that the promotional material that you’re putting out there is working for you.  And you’re thinking of creating – or re-assessing – an EPK. An Electronic Press Kit is a page on your website that provides resources for bookers, media, and technicians.  My theory is that a website, overall, is for personal interaction with fans, but the EPK page on your website is for your professional interactions. It’s for someone in a hurry who sees literally thousands of band sites and just wants…

  • Musicians: It's worth paying artists - Chris Culgin CD - album art by Brendon Mroz
    Articles,  Band Advice

    Musicians: It’s worth paying artists.

    You’re a musician; you work hard to hone your craft, you practice, you rehearse, you write and re-write, you book your own gigs and manage your website and do your own promo, and when you make some money you plough it back into your work, upgrading your gear, fixing the car, paying rent on your rehearsal space. You’ll fiercely defend a musician’s right to get paid, making jokes – sometimes bitter – about driving $5000 in gear in a $500 car to a gig where you’re paid $50. You lament the culture of free music – people so used to downloading Kanye illegally that they forget that most musicians do not…