A helping hand


SaskMusic helps make art a provincial export

Dietrich Neu

The music industry has seen some heavy changes over the years. The Internet has opened up the world of music to an unprecedented age of accessibly and diversity. No matter where you come from, when your music is online, everyone has the potential to hear it.

But with a sea of music for listeners to sift through, getting noticed as an independent musician can be a arduous task. The little guys need a big voice to stand out in the crowd. In Saskatchewan, the non-profit corporation SaskMusic [Saskatchewan Recording Industry Association] tries to be that voice.

SaskMusic is a member-based corporation committed to the growth of the music industry within Saskatchewan through leadership, promotion, and advocacy of Saskatchewan artists.

One of SaskMusic’s promotional tools is the annual InTune CD, an exclusive compilation made to show off Saskatchewan‘s best musical talent to people within the industry around the world.

“This is something that we’ve been doing for a few years,” said Derek Bachman, program director of SaskMusic. “[The first edition] was in 2007. That was the year when, obviously, the Juno awards, the Canadian Country Music Awards, and the Western Canadian Music Awards were in Saskatchewan. So they launched a sampler of Saskatchewan artists to give industry personnel and people outside of the province a sample of what is going on here musically.”

The sampler starts with hundreds of submissions from various artists around the province. Then it’s narrowed down by a panel of third party judges to a collection of the best 20-25 songs, covering a variety of genres. With the help of SaskMusic, this CD makes its way around the world, and into the hands of record labels, people in radio, venue owners looking to book shows, and music supervisors who need music to place in film and television.

“Our mandate is to promote the Saskatchewan music industry,” offered Bachman. “Really, the goal is to help the artist. We are a non-profit organization, the goal is to get these artists recognized and hopefully opportunities come from it.”

Although the compilation is promoted within Saskatchewan to some extent, most of the promotion is focused outside the province, nationally and internationally. Dispersing the CD on an international scale is important to the growth of the artists, and the Saskatchewan music scene as a whole.

“We have the resources to attend certain conferences, and to network with other industry people within Canada and outside of Canada, so it’s a great way for us to give them a sample of some of the best that we can offer here,” noted Bachman. “Without a tool like this, it would be much harder for us to showcase the talent here. We do a lot of work from our website, doing press releases and contacting industry people. But, the CD makes it much easier, the music sells itself.”

Bachman added that the CD has helped Saskatchewan music make its way into the hands of people that wouldn’t have heard of it before, opening up opportunities that wouldn’t be there otherwise. “[Artists] have been offered placement in television and film because of it, radio play across North America and Canada, we have sent it to festivals, and people have used it as a source to find artists for booking and things like that,” Bachman said. “We were just in Los Angeles for an export mission in November. We showcased a couple Saskatchewan acts to some music supervisors in LA at an invite-only music reception, and we gave each of them a compilation CD.”

Export missions to places like LA are not only great ways to make industry contacts. SaskMusic is also bringing a product to a market that wants it, and bringing revenue to artists that need it. Bachman said TV and film companies love working with independent artists.

“Placing music in film and television is a great revenue stream for artists as well as a great promotional opportunity. Music supervisors like working with independent artist because it’s easy to license their music. These artist own the rights to their own music and recordings, while with major record labels, there are a few more signatures and approvals that they have to go through in order to use that music.”

Today, the music industry is flooded with content. Everyone is getting their material out there and without the effort of SaskMusic and their sampler CD making its way around the world, it would be much harder for Saskatchewan’s artists to get noticed. Artists are just that, artists; they’re not promoters. They know how to make great music, but for many of them, the business side of the game is not their forte. SaskMusic is here to handle that end of things for artists, to help grow the Saskatchewan music industry, and to make successes out of some of the best musicians in the world.

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