Robin Dhanju // Scarborough Observer

Musicians learn the business of show business

Program teaches artists how to market themselves in the music industry

The new Artist Entrepreneur program at Coalition Music in Scarborough is teaching artists the business of show biz.

Vel Omazic, director of education at Coalition Music, says the program is needed because there are many artists entering the field without understanding how challenging the business side can be.

“They see (American Idol) and they see The Voice. They see these YouTube sensations and they assume that that’s how it kind of works, and there’s a lot more to it,” Omazic said.  “It’s much more business-oriented and a lot of work so we want to introduce artists to this.”

According to Omazic, the creation of Napster in 1999 changed the landscape of the music industry.  When users could share music files through peer-to-peer services, album sales decreased and the way the big production companies operated changed.

“Now, they need you to prove that you’re a business before they invest in you. I might, in the old days, 15 years ago, say, ‘Hey, you sound pretty good; let’s spend a few bucks on a demo and put you on a tour, pretty much develop you,’” Omazic said.

The Artist Entrepreneur Program prides itself in being a “small business incubator,” teaching artists they are financial entities and how to best operate in that way. Scott Ramirez, a graduate of the program, said that it helps students develop and provided them with structure.

Courtesy of Scott Ramirez
Scott Ramirez, a graduate of the AE Program with Coalition Music is currently a member of the East Collective. (Scott Ramirez)

“They helped us navigate the indie scene more as professionals and not just as wide-eyed artists,” Ramirez said. He added that the program helps new artists become prepared for whatever scenarios the industry presents to solo artists.

Originally from Nova Scotia, Julia Tynes made the move to Toronto to attend the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts and heard about the program through Ramirez.

Courtesy of Julia Tynes
Julia Tynes, an AE graduate is currently pursuing a solo career while continuing to work with the East Collective. (Julia Tynes)

She echoed the sentiments of developing a stronger business sense and understanding the ins and outs of the logistical side of the industry.

Whether it’s negotiating contracts or approaching venues when just starting out, Tynes said the program provides benefits for new artists beyond a performance level.

Artists looking to enroll into the program can apply for scholarships of up to $5,000 from Corus Entertainment and Bell Media. With an overall price of $7,500 for the 10-week program, an artist receiving the full scholarship only has to pay the remaining $2,500 fee.

For more information on the program and Coalition Music, visit coalitionent.com.