Music business professionals visit Durham College

Jordan Gauthier, owner and founder of YC drums, built his business as a college dropout. Now, he is making drum kits for names like the Arkells, The Glorious Sons, and PUP. He was one of three of the DIY panellists at the Reel Music Festival in early April.

The other two, Joesph Buscema and Jill Snell also have interesting resumes.

Buscema is the former tour manager for Abandon All Ships, a band that has made its mark on Southern Ontario. Buscema currently manages Toronto pop-rock band Curses.

Snell worked on radio and pushed her way into the music industry. Snell was a Manager of Artist Marketing at BMG Music Group, working with names like ZZ Top, Kenny Chesney, and Avril Lavigne.

Snell is also the founder of The Orange Record Label. She is now working on her second label, Road Angel Entertainment, which has been in business since 2008, and works with country artists Dean Brody, Tim Hicks, and High Valley, among others.

The three spoke about their experiences breaking into the music industry, and the hurdles they had to jump. “You realize you’re not working for a company, you’re not getting a paycheque, you’re not getting benefits,” said Snell.

They made their livelihoods in DIY businesses, but after all that, there are still some difficulties. “There’s no benefits in rock and roll,” said Gauthier. “Take it one day at a time, and just keep looking forward and don’t look back.”

Later on in the day, a judged listening party took place on campus, where judges provided feedback to anyone who submitted a demo. The Demo Derby was judged by music industry professionals Dale Peters, Joel Stewart, and Jeff Dalziel.

They spoke to a room packed full of students, many of whom were first years in the Music Business Management course, attending to support their second year counterparts.

“I think it’s important for MBM to support each other in our events,” said Erik Allen, one of those first years. “Not only is it great to see new faces at our events, it’s great to see your friends supporting your work as well.”

The judges favoured Naturally by Alex Whroms, Home by Lauryn Macfarlane, and Supernatural Buffalo’s In A Light.

Dalziel was looking for something special.

“I’ve got to know who you are by the end of the song,” he said.

Judges focused on a catchy rhythm, quick and to-the-point verses, and simple lyrics that can get a message across. “Write lyrics for stupid people,” said Dalziel.

Some crowd favourites included Memories by Troy Junker, New Orleans by Matt Layne, and Crownland’s Mantra, which all received head bumps from the crowd.

The three judges combine for an impressive resume. Dale Peters owns a company called Dale Speaking Ltd., which specializes in working with artist to develop them using radio, touring, and marketing. Some past clients include Alexisonfire, City and Colour, The Sheepdogs and Mötley Crüe.

Peters also worked with Canadian singer Feist, and spoke about his experience with her. He recalls hating Feist at first, but after some pressure from his wife, became a fan.

Stewart is a director at Country Music Television that has worked with some of the biggest names within the country music scene. Stewart has produced and directed TV and movie specials for stars like Johnny Reid, Lady Antebellum, and Tim McGraw.

The last judge, Dalziel, is a Durham College professor in the Music Business program. Dalziel has worked as a producer for Sony Canada for six years, and currently works with Sony/ATV music as a producer. Dalziel’s long list of album credits includes names such as Brett Kissel, Aaron Carter, and Nelly Furtado.


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Alex Debets is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. He enjoys writing about music, sports, and politics. His work can be seen on Riot Radio, and The Chronicle. Alex is a music lover, who spends his time collecting vinyl. He hopes to work at CBC Radio one day.