Ben Caplan is a recent graduate of the Artist Entrepreneur program
Music is now easier to get into, but harder to find direction in. That’s the general consensus I get from Vel Omazic, the education director over at Coalition Entertainment, an artist management company. He’s spent the past 18 months developing the Artist Entrepreneur program. The 10-week intensive course for bands and artists that runs Monday through Thursday all day long. It’s essentially school, though they don’t call it that and when I say “students,” Omazic laughs and tells me we’re talking about professional musicians here, not kids.
“We’re about reality. We’re not really an educational institution. We have no intention of being an educational institution. These are working artists. Our job is to help them professionally develop their careers,” Omazic says. “We’re helping them build the infrastructure and tools to run the business.”
The program provides lessons on how to handle legal agreements and register a band a business to live sound and song construction. Coalition brings in professionals such as agents, label reps, artists, promoters and lawyers to speak with the musicians. “We pretty much invited the entire Canadian music industry to our building,” Omazic says.
Coalition’s Artist Entrepreneur program costs $7500 per band/artist. It is not to be confused with college level music business administration programs such as the one at Durham College. These programs provide students with high-level expertise, are tax deductable and eligible for government funding. That said, each application to Coalition’s Artist Entrepreneur program is automatically eligible for scholarships of upwards of $5000. The program is also flexible and allows bands to rotate members throughout the duration of the course in an effort to help them keep their jobs. When asked about the results of the program, Omazic said It is still too early to tell how musicians are transitioning these skills into their careers.
After a decade’s long career as a Sony music executive, Omazic joined the company specifically to work on the development of this program alongside label founders Eric Lawrence and Rob Lanni. The idea has previously been called the Artistpreneur, comprised of one part business and one part artist. It’s the notion that an artist can have the business savvy to sustain their art on their own terms.
Bryce Jardine, a singer-songwriter who just released his album The Kids Are Gone, is a recent graduate of the program.
“The music industry is changing and the program pulls no punches about how mercurial it can be. Though the answers for a young musician are not always so cut and dry, the course provided a conversation with other like-minded people and professionals in the industry, which goes a long way,” he said in an email. “It gave me a better sense of my business identity.”
Coalition remains a source for bands after they complete the program. Some early graduates have already found success. Ben Caplan, a Hamilton musician who has been calling Nova Scotia home for the past few years, consulted Coalition on a few legalities and is now co-managed by them. The company helped him book his current tour overseas.
“[Being managed by Coalition] would be one of the long-term benefits to a successful artist… but that’s going to take some time,” Omazic says.
The Artist Entrepreneur program is one of many efforts to teach bands the ins-and-outs of the music business. The Toronto Music Industry Association, NXNE, Canadian Music Week and Indie Week all hold panel discussions and workshops to enhance bands’ skills. From October 10-13, Indie Week Canada will offer digital and music industry panels on making money in music, the anatomy of a song, international markets and social media, to name a few. These workshops are free for bands performing in the festival, $10 for wristband holders and $15 for everyone else.
The next intake of the Artist Entrepreneur program begins October 15. Applications are being accepted up until the date or until spaces are full. For more information check out Coalitionent.com.
Sheena Lyonnais writes for Toronto Standard. You can follow her on Twitter at @SheenaLyonnais.