The thing about Grant Deadlines and how to reach them

Some people are great at time management but when it comes to grant writing, here’s a few tidbits of advice.  Unlike university paper, you can’t pull an all-nighter when it comes to grants.  Planning and time management play a strong role in your grant being successful.  Each of our grants take 4-6 weeks to compete… here’s why

  • -          Having your producer confirm budget prices when he’s recording a million other bands
  • -          Music video production concepts being finalized
  • -          Receiving letters of support from media/influencers endorsing your project
  • -          (reminding those media/influencers supports WHO you are)
  • -          Having your bass player get a new passport because he has somehow lost both acceptable pieces of ID (birth certificate or passport)
  • -          Signing the confidentiality agreement with YouRockRed
  • -          Figuring out what songs you want to submit for assessment and why
  • -          Having future show dates and tours not just confirmed but with an actual contract

On our side:

  • -          Talking with us via Skype, phone or in-person to determine what type of grant should be applied for
  • -          Helping you determine your goals
  • -          Confirming your team members interested in working with you provided funding is secured (publicity, booking agent, mastering studios, art work, etc.)
  • -          Writing production plans
  • -          Writing marketing plans*
  • -          Balancing budgets
  • -          Writing band biographies for a specific grant (e.g. bio of each member as required)
  • -          Completing everything at least a day in advance of the deadline to allow for editing and polishing

As you can see, grant writing isn’t as simple as 1-2-3, done in a weekend!  If you want to have a strong chance against the competition, don’t rush.  We are extremely time-efficient but if you’re not here’s a list of upcoming grant dates that we could potentially help you reach.  

October 24- Factor Juried Sound

October 31- MuchFact

December 2- OAC Popular Music Program

Email us today! Samantha@yourockred.com

Festival Lessons ’13

I just got back from TIFF and realized that since June I’ve attended 9 big festivals.  Fringe Festival, Field Trip Fest, NXNE, JazzFest, Bluesfest, Osheaga, Folk Fest, TIFF < that was my summer in a nutshell!  No wonder I don’t know where it’s gone to!  So now that the air’s getting cooler outdoor festivals are sending us indoors for intimate shows I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned.

TIFF- Swap the wellies for high-heels at TIFF and look like you belong on the red carpet when you grab cocktails after the films so you can casually bump into Taylor Swift and become her new BFF.  Or just brunch at the Drake and watch all the publicists prepare their days.  Arrive to the screenings early.

NXNE- Sleep when you’re dead. Eat well.  Skip the energy drink boosters unless at a sponsored energy-drink event or you will crash and miss the Spice Girl’s Tribute band playing at 3 a.m.  Be prepared to wake up in whatever you went out in at 8 a.m. so girl, you better wear waterproof eyeliner.  The disheveled rock star look becomes more attractive with each sleepless night that makes for perfect hair.

Field Trip- I wish this happened every year.  Arts and Crafts created the most perfect one-day festival filled with the most joyful music fans ever.  Bring Kleenex to wipe tears while watching BSS play Lover’s Spit.  Brush your teeth because infectious smiling like this happens only so often between strangers.

Fringe- Wear whatever you like and speak in whatever language you like, even if it’s a made up one only you understand and you will be embraced by everyone.  Also, wherever there is wine, you will find artists from around the world ready to tell you their life story.

JazzFest- There is no one definition of jazz.  Lawnchair viewers will not move for anyone and David Byrne will seek out cool indie rock shows in your neighbourhood the next day so if a friend tweets he’s at your show, he is!

FolkFest- Dress warmly.  Sweaters and wool blankets are always de rigeur when the leaves change colour.  You can always buy hot tea, but cold beer is best sipped cuddling under blankets.

Osheaga – Oh it’s going to rain.  Rain hard.  Rain briefly.  You’re going to get soaked.  Or you’re going to get sprayed in the face with a jet of water when it gets too hot while watching Stars.  And buy their merch early because it sells out quickly.  And accommodations. Heck, just book everything far in advance as people are coming in from all over for this killer boutique festival.

Bluesfest- If you live in Ottawa, pace yourself.  You will get a Bluesfest hangover once it is over.  You will be confused and wondering what to do when you can’t hear Axle Rose screaming from your front door.  If you do go out dancing/drinking after a day of Bluesfest you’re going to pay for it the next day.

One more word of advice applicable to the above:  eat well and work out to prepare your body for festival season, not to look hot but to be able to survive! So much yoga was done over here and snacks always tucked into festival gear.

We’re gearing up to be involved in the Ottawa International Film Festival October 2-6 as I will be a celeb judge at the Music Video Challenge on October 6 at Mansion at 8 p.m.  RSVP here.

Before the snow hits we’ll be hitting up Pop Montreal next week and Halifax Pop in October!  Say hi to us in person or on Twitter!

New government fees for international touring musicians to hurt ALL Canadian music fans

We were covering the DIY or DIE series, but the Canadian Government is about to ruin the live music scene for all music fans.  Effective July 31 all international musicians will be subject to a $275 application fee to perform in Canada (including all supporting tour managers, roadies, etc.) and another $150 if successful.  This is unacceptable and even more infuriating as Canadian citizens were not consulted on a decision that would ultimately cost them the freedom to enjoy their favourite music.  These are non-refundable fees for EACH venue they perform at, whereas before it was a one-time fee of $150 to enter Canada to a max of $450.

This is not just about the bar owners, booking agents and promoters who are now facing tough choices about what bands they can book.

Music is our culture.  We are influenced by music from all over the world. If we’re supposed to be a multi-cultural shining light for the rest of the world, how are we to represent this without being able to afford to pay the performers?

Promoters are already taking a personal gamble in booking concerts.  I should know, I’ve been doing it for years.  If a band guarantee is $500 and you’re expecting 70-100 people at $10/each you’re barely going to break even.  The local openers certainly won’t be paid.  The sound person will be grumpy that you can’t tip him.  Even just buying drink tickets for the band may not be possible.

International touring bands already have fees that people aren’t aware of.  Accommodations and food are often included in riders and if the promoter can’t cover these there is usually a “buy-out” option of per diem for them.  Just getting across the border with the proper visa prior to July 31 was a risk (Hence why more than a few bands have sent their merch to my home to pick up once they’re in town.)

Now for a band with 4 members and 1 touring support staff the cost would be $2,125/per show.  There is NO way an average indie band from Portland or whatever with an album or two could recover this cost from a 100-200 person venue.  This would not cover the band guarantee, accommodations, or per diem.  Even then, the shows would have to be packed and ticket prices would have to be HIGH.

Throughout the summer I’ve been lucky enough to hit up some amazing festivals with artists from all around the world.  Bjork from Iceland, Father John Misty from the States, and I’m seeing Alt J from England tomorrow.  Taking away the option to enjoy live music is going to hurt our cultural community, economy and ultimately the reputation of Canada.  We are not anti-arts, we just have someone in charge who doesn’t get the importance of supporting musicians with different passports.

If you agree that this new fee needs to be abolished please visit Change.org’s petition.  They’re already at about 130,000 signatures and need another 20,000 for it to be re-visited in Parliament. 

Alternatively, if you live in Ottawa, come on down to Babylon tonight where a protest/fundraiser is taking place with live music from Dany Laj and Atherton. 

DIY or DIE: Management Part II – Professional Artist Managers

Check out our Mini-Manager Services here!

Our previous blog had to deal with well-intentioned friends turned artist managers. This week we talk about professional artist managers.

If you do sign with a label they may assign a new artist manager to you to help with the representation. (I’ll talk about the importance of lawyers in the upcoming blog posts but two words:  be careful!)  Often they’ll be past musicians, tour managers, or promoters themselves so they bring a wealth of knowledge and experience young emerging artists can benefit from.

[Rhodes]‘s had a load of influence — especially at the start. He put the group together. And he also put us on the right track — mainly about song content.

Joe Strummer on manager Bernard Rhodes

These guys and gals take the same percentage (15-20%) but something to talk to your lawyer about in advance is what sort of a deal they will get.  360 deal means they’re not limited to just album sales and show income but could include music licensing (if your song got used in a Gap commercial), merchandise, web advertising, etc.

If they receive their fee before all expenses are deducted from a tour date, e.g. if the band gets paid $500, broken down by 5 band members, the manager is essentially get paid the same rate as each band members but the band members have to use their collective income for gas, shared hotel rooms, food money (unless of course the promoter agrees to cover these costs plus guarantee).  People definitely don’t go on tour to get rich.  Read the fine print in any agreement.

One way to avoid this is a flat fee per tour, per album etc.  Again, this depends on if you’re a new artist or established act that’s received a generous (and realistic) advance.  Standard is 15%-20% of your income so if you make $100 for a show, they’re going to get $15-20 out of it.  For a much more detailed breakdown at a higher mid-level artist level I highly recommend Donald Passman’s books.

The nice thing about the changing face of the industry nowadays is how artists are generally able to choose their team.  So that means the power is up to you.  (There’s some great online directories available though FYI huge concentration in Toronto, Ontario).

The best way to meet a manager is to have musician friends recommend them, so that’s fellow musicians, promoters, your dog’s babysitter (ok, maybe not that one, just checking if you were paying attention).  Research who your favourite bands, or a band whose popularity-tour history you aspire to and contact their manager.  (Cold calling sucks, we know, but hey, give it a shot!)

Do you like the bands they’ve worked with before?  Do they understand your band’s tour-style?  If you’re a party-all-the-time band you’ve got to have a manager that gets that.  Same with if you’re an all-vegan feminist Bikini-kill-cover band, you have to make sure they’re not booking you into misogynistic biker bars in rural Ontario.  Your manager’s role is to be your guardian angel.  They are there to protect you and make sure all the opportunities possible come true.

Finally, it is important to know that the manager must be a fan of the band’s music and the musicians must believe in and respect the manager’s point of view. 

If you’re looking into hiring a manager and aren’t sure if the person you’ve selected is right for you, or has the experience necessary, send me an email!  Part of the consultation services offered by YouRockRed means helping you build the strongest team.  Let us help you avoid pitfalls of bad management and send an email today to Samantha@yourockred.com

Signing that contract did bother me a lot. I’ve been turning it over in my mind, but now I’ve come to terms with it. I’ve realised that all it boils down to is perhaps two year’s security…. Before, all I could think about was my stomach…. Now I feel free to think—and free to write down what I’m thinking about…. And look—I’ve been fucked about for so long I’m not going to suddenly turn into Rod Stewart just because I get £25.00 a week. I’m much too far gone for that, I tell you.

—Joe Strummer, March 1977

(Great books on band legendary band managers including Peter Grant above include Stairway to Heaven:  Led Zeppelin’s Uncensored by Richard Cole and A Riot of their Own by The Clash’s sound guy Johnny Green


DIY or DIE- Building your Team and their roles: Managers

Check out our Mini Manager Services Here!

How people create, promote, discover, distribute, sell, and monetize music is constantly changing.  I’m calling this series DIY or DIE, why you don’t need to go it alone in the Canadian music scene. In it, I’d like to share some insight in how to build a team to support your career goals by explaining their roles.  Though this is aimed at indie artists, this breakdown is just as applicable to commercial artists. 

Unlike days of yore, musicians don’t need to be waiting to be “discovered” by some magical A&R man.  It’s one click, tweet, or viral video away attainable because of the strong team you build. On average behind a 5-piece mid-level band, there’s a team of 20+ individuals whose mission is to make your band the greatest.  Even labels don’t try to do everything themselves.  They hire professionals (hi!), companies and services to do things they are more skilled in.


When you first start out your manager will most likely be a close friend that doesn’t have a lot of experience but really believes in your band.  Whether or not you’re comfortable letting someone else run your affairs/make the big decisions/be the first point of contact is something your band should discuss at length.  (So if your drummer’s on-again-off-again girlfriend offers to help manage you should probably say no.)  You need someone that will be a solid foundation for your band and won’t flake out or miss important emails.

Obviously there’s loads of things here bands can do for themselves just through general networking but here are some things a manager does for the artist:

  • Helping with major business decisions (whether to sign with a label, which one, publishing, establishing advances for music)

  • Creative process support (what songs to record, where, with whom, what producer, hiring other band members; firing them if need be, talking about sound and image)

  • Being your hype machine!  King or queen of networking this person sends a million emails, phone calls, etc. to get you attention.  Hiring publicists, web designers, …

  • Putting together your team

  • Booking and coordinating tours (budgets, grants, road crew, promoter contact, google-maps-fiend to get to the club,)

  • Being your cheerleader.  Making sure your label, distribution, promotion team is working to make the biggest impact on the market which could involve the typical scream-fests caught in Spinal Tap between promoters and management.

Clearly this sort of management has its limitations for first-time-well-intentioned managers (not being familiar with the ins and outs of the industry, not being aware of financial support, legalities, music licensing etc.)  If you’re on top of this and just need a manager to help with admin support, that’s cool, but if you’re being approached by a label, invited out on a big supporting tour and your manager has no idea how to book a show, it’s time to look elsewhere.

NEXT WEEK:  We talk commissions, hiring a professional manager, legalities, and how to hire the right one for YOU.    

If you’re looking into hiring a manager and aren’t sure if the person you’ve selected is right for you, or has the experience necessary, send me an email!  Part of the consultation services offered by YouRockRed means we help you build the strongest team.  We can sit in on meetings or skype chats to ask the questions to allow you to choose the right team.  Having managed bands and worked with their managers on and off for the last 10 years helping bands avoid pitfalls of bad management is almost as fulfilling as seeing bands matched with the right manager that lands them on a festival like Bonaroo.    – S

Band management fail ^

How to Send out Songs- Just Do It

*this post is best applied for people you’ve met IN PERSON, not mass cold-call emails


When it comes to putting art into the world artists are their own worst critics.  You want to make that song perfect to send to the area promoter or radio DJ to flip out over even though they’ve already expressed interest in your band.  You pour yourself into it and write and re-write it until it’s perfect then once you finally record it at home from your bedroom you’re dissatisfied and scrap it altogether to be hidden on your computer for another year until you’ve amassed 20 of the same version.  Don’t.  Good promoters, radio DJs and managers are busy people.  If they weren’t interested in your live music, they wouldn’t have said to contact them.

Your bandmates and you already know the best 1 or 2 songs from live show reactions You have to trust your instincts to lead you.  In your email to them you can mention this is demo-form until you find a producer for your full professionally recorded album when you shop it around.  Remind them of where you met.  Obviously it’s nice to have a polished website but you don’t have to have a perfect band bio in the interim, just a solid contact page with a few basic bio details like where you’re from, influences, who you’ve played with, etc. 

I just interviewed a young band that signed a multi-album major record label based on a 2-song digital-only EP that found its way to a popular audio blog.  He wasn’t ready, but that wasn’t a bad thing.  He believed in those 2 songs but just as I learned from Chris Guillebeau, there’s never a more perfect time than now.  He found an audience of supporters.  You can too if you act now.

The worst that can happen is they can say no.  Even if they do say no, it could open another window of opportunity with the promoter or blogger or whatever saying, “Hey this isn’t for us right now, but I really think my friend X would be interested.” When you email that person, you’ve now started a dialogue based on a colleague of theirs they respect.  They’re going to at least click to listen to your music now.  (If you’re concerned about your music leaking, there’s plenty of ways to make private streaming and downloads possible.) Follow up with them a week after.

Making solid music for yourself over those you’re trying to impress (promoters, labels, etc.) is the first step towards reaching those important contacts.  When you believe in the sound, others will follow.  You can amass a strong and experienced team behind you to bring the best sound forward by doing this but before that happens it means you can’t just sit around in your underwear writing songs 24/7 waiting for someone to buy your song for a Gap commercial.  You have to take the risk of asking, emailing, and just doing it.  It takes some practice, but eventually becomes second nature until you have a publicity or booking agent doing all of this for you.

Obviously there’s a bunch of “don’ts” when it comes to sending out music (just ask!) but the most important thing to take away from this is that if someone with power of influence asks you to send some music, do not sit on it.   And hey! If you want an industry professional to go over the song and email BEFORE you send it off for our professional feedback asap, don’t hesitate to send us an email.  samantha@yourockred.com


You bet your macaroni, bands have to get paid!

Paying Bands


As YouRockRed launches today I wanted to share some my own history with you and provide some insight into the Canadian music scene.

I’ve been booking shows since I was 17 years old.  From my high school friends’ basement band to being the first promoter to bring Ten Second Epic to Quebec I would do everything to make my bands happy when working with me.

Back then I didn’t know about sponsorship deals, ad revenue or how to get media involved so each time I plunked down $400 for venue or PA rental was a huge risk.  I would put my part-time coffee shop money towards paying my bands’ guarantees instead of road-tripping to Montreal or Ottawa for big shows.  It was a really small town of less than 2,000 and no one had even put on punk or indie shows in the community rec centre that wasn’t a fiddlin’ jamboree (really).

There were no guides to promoting and artist relations available to me but I knew this much:  bands needed to get paid.  And I at least could feed them if we didn’t get enough kids out to the show.  So early in the morning of my shows I would chop vegetables and cook up massive pots of pasta.  The pasta became legendary… as did my hospitality.

A spread of veggies, cheeses, cookies, and pasta was always available to my bands.  I didn’t have any guide books on how to promote or deal with bands.  I just knew how I would like to have been treated.

Now when interviewing people like Conor Oberst they’ll rave about the food spread at Bluesfest in comparison to other festivals where there’s just corn chips instead of full meals.  It becomes not about the food, but about valuing the people you are working with.  Music is my end-all, but it’s people who make the songs that run through my ear phones.  When you have happy musicians and treat them with kindness and consideration they remember.

When I booked Rah Rah a couple years ago when I saw that their rider included a list of vegetarian food items I went out of my way to make sure they were available.  I am a fan of their band but I wanted them to have their best performance and happy, well-fed people make way better music. 

Most shows I was able to pay and feed my bands, but a few times the opening bands got only pasta.  Then again, there was a French hardcore band who chose to get paid in cupcakes.

Food became the currency and just like you do when you’re hanging out in a kitchen, new friendships, clients and experiences came out of that one small gesture. Past Ottawa Rock Lottery participants know I have a habit of stuffing them with gourmet pizza and craft beer.

I hope the bands I’ve worked with remember the pasta and when you’re down to your last macaroni, and that they remember that pasta can be turned to real currency with the right music supporters. 

How have you been paid for performing?  Let us know in the comments!  

And now for you to really get to know where I started, here’s the first article that was ever written about my concert promoting.


Serious flash from the past- teenage promoter.
Serious flash from the past- teenage promoter.