Durham prof writing new chapter in music business

Durham College music professor Jeff Dalziel. Photo credit: Morgan Kelly

A Durham professor is writing quite a story about his involvement in music.

Jeff Dalziel, a professor in the Music Business Managment (MBM) program at Durham College (DC), recently won Producer of the Year at the Canadian Country Music Awards (CCMAs). He’s also in the process of writing a book about his 25 years in the music biz.

Dalziel, 51, won the award for his work on the album “What We’re Made Of” by The Washboard Union. Dalziel says he did not expect to win, but is pleased and thankful to represent Canadian talent.

Although it is a Canadian awards show, a lot of the CCMA winners had help behind the scenes from people from around the world, he says.

“That’s still OK with me but it’s nice to go up and acknowledge and say I used Canadian players and I did just as well,” says Dalziel.

Dalziel knew when he went onstage, he wasn’t the only person winning the award. He took the time to thank the band and the people who helped him on the album.

“If I stood up there and thanked everybody, they would’ve just yanked me off stage,” he jokes.

MBM students also congratulated Dalziel on his win — but they already knew he was a major player in the music industry.

Dalziel has more than 25 years of music-related experience, working with Canadian artists such as rocker Ian Thornley and pop artist Nelly Furtado. He says he uses personal stories from his career to help teach his students.

Some of these stories are featured in a book he’s working on titled, “Top 10 and Homeless”.

“But it’s funny, it’s a funny book. It’s positive. It sounds like a negative book because that’s the perception of musicians,” says Dalziel.

Dalziel says there’s a large stigma around those who want to pursue music as a career. He wrote the book to give insight on the music industry and to prove “music is a valid lifestyle.

“Music can be as powerful as curing cancer,” he says. “It can be very uplifting, it can change the world. It can raise money, more money than you can imagine, to fix things and help things.”

He is still working on the book in his free time, but is in no rush to finish it. Dalziel sometimes uses his book in class, because his students may not learn certain aspects of the industry — until it’s too late.

“I’d rather teach them stuff people are not going to put in typical books about industry,” Dalziel says.

Dalziel has been teaching at DC for more than five years, but has been working with colleges and universities for a long time. He says he enjoys teaching because he likes to influence a positive change in the music business.

“If I can help these students understand better what happens in the industry,” Dalziel explains, “they can make better decisions which would help all of us as Canadians I think.”

Students Dalziel has taught years ago still keep in touch or hire him for music projects. He says it’s nice to know he was part of helping them get to where they are today.

“I’d rather have a moment like that everyday and never win another award,” he says.

Currently, Dalziel is working on new singles for more Canadian country artists such as River Town Saints and Ryan Langdon, along with co-writing for some new projects.

Dalziel says his future plans are to keep doing what he does, but also looking to improve his skills. He’s in between “rigid goal and whatever happens, happens.

“I’m always just trying to find a new way to do what I’ve just done. I want to do it again, but not the same. And so I guess I’m always just trying to move forward,” says Dalziel.