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Joel Carriere is certainly a man of many talents. The president and owner of Dine Alone Records, Bedlam Music Management and founder of S.C.E.N.E. Music Festival, Joel has his hand in a whole slew of pots. With The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” recently going platinum and their record going gold, it was no wonder that Joel was ready to talk about the secrets behind the international marketplace.
Q: What made you want to work in the international marketplace and how did you go about breaking out of Canada?
A: Our goals from day one have been to break the global market. The curiosity of the other side, the unknown, the thirst for experience, the need to escape our small town map of life and pushing our limits is really what drove us to think globally. Whether it’s an artist I manage, our management company, our record label or food company, our goal is to achieve success on a global level. How do we measure success? Success to me is limitless and never truly attained. Yes I am aware, it sounds like a depressing way to exist but in fact, I love the challenge.
Breaking out is a two part strategy. First is having a cohesive big picture plan – a plan that can only be fully executed through the accomplishment of smaller goals. Next is taking the risk and not being afraid to fail or make mistakes. The only way to learn or win big is by taking chances. The world sounds intimidating, and it takes a while to weed through the shit. But once you can weed through it, you end up finding yourself working with amazing people and having amazing experiences.
Q: What are some differences you’ve noticed between marketplaces? Do you have a favourite?
A: When we started working on a global level, and traveling to other countries, there were a few things that I noticed within the line of work I was in. I loved traveling to the UK and seeing how music was truly such an intrinsic part of their being. It was really eye opening. It shined a brighter light on the Canadian music culture and how very disconnected it is. Canada is a massive country with a smaller population (in comparison to other countries) and limited media outlets to promote a thriving music culture.
After having spent so much time in the States, I can say that I admire the hunger they have to succeed. There are limitless possibilities in the USA for the taking. Everyone is working very hard and hustling on a different level to achieve everything they can for themselves and their companies. I personally find their thirst and determination inspiring. In addition to the work ethic, the rewards are far more massive in the USA, as well as in the UK. If you manage to break the USA, you have a kick start to a global career.
As far as market places, I love spending time in the USA, UK and Australia. USA for the work ethic, UK for their music culture and Australia because they are always ahead of the curve with rock and roll music.
I enjoy going to festivals like Leeds and Reading and seeing three generations of people show up to see music and dive right into the culture of the weekend. Seeing 80,000 people jumping at the same time, singing in unison to Kings of Leon, Muse, Rage Against the Machine or Alexisonfire, warms my heart and inspires me to work harder
Q: How hard is it communicating in different markets ie. language barriers, taste in music etc.
A: Our biggest communication barrier would be with Asia. Which is a bit of a bummer considering it is the largest and most populous continent. As far as taste is concerned, good songs are universal.
Q: How important are festival showcase opportunities? What are some of your favourite events to attend?
A: I think they are very important, but there is certainly an art to ensuring the productivity of these events. When an artist is showcasing at a festival, they are competing with hundreds of other musicians for the attention of the audience and the influencers in attendance (bloggers, journalists, etc.). You have to make sure that you go into these events well prepared, with an agenda. If you can do that and figure out your goal and achieve it, then it can be career changing. My favourite event to attend is SXSW. I love the massiveness of it and the the hustle that goes behind it. SXSW is a great opportunity for people in the music and entertainment industries to explore. It’s effective on a global level – bringing artists and industry reps from around the world together to experience music.
Q: What is the hardest obstacle for an artist overcome when trying to achieve international recognition?
A: I think those obstacles vary from artist to artist, but there is definitely a concern with artists that become “Canadian Big” – where artists get some recognition in Canada, but nowhere else. The “Canadian Big” syndrome often roots with the band letting their egos take over. Even if success is achieved in Canada, the willingness to continue to put in the work is absolutely vital. Without the drive there will be no growth. Being successful in Canada is a only a small stepping stone.
Bands like these need to learn to adopt a new attitude and recognize how the industry operates. Without this clarity a band will not garner true success.Bands and their teams go through a lot in the developing stages, but when some bands get “Canadian Big” (especially when it happens quickly) they become blinded by success and crumble under criticism (even if it’s constructive). When this happens the “constructive” team gets let go or turned into “yes men” (aka. strokers of the ego). Those who survive the music industry have both incredible drive and an open mind. Having a team that is both perceptive and honest is absolutely necessary too. Without that – you have nothing.
Canada is one big giant middle class and this “Canadian Big” type of success bores me, I am not interested in it and I don’t want my bands to ever be satisfied with being that. If it’s where we end up however, after putting in all our effort to break on a global level, I will be satisfied with our efforts.
Q: How often do Canadian artists or industry professionals cross over into the international market place?
A: The digital era has allowed that percentage to grow. Bands like Alexisonfire, Broken Social Scene, Justin Beiber, Drake, Arcade Fire, Metric, City and Colour, Nickelback, Japandriods, and Doldrums have been exported with greater ease. I don’t want to discount however, bands like Rush, DOA, The Guess Who, Barenaked Ladies, The Band, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, etc.. Those bands achieved iconic status at a time where everything was done through phone calls and mail. Sometimes all you need is talent and a couple of really solid songs.
The digital era has given us the opportunity to cross more fluently into the international market place. HOWEVER, I think the same principles and ethics still apply. The artist still needs to create great songs, perform them and entertain an audience. The team behind the artist needs to be forward thinking, skilled with communication and have the ability to identify the bigger picture and the steps needed to achieve it.
Q: Any advice you would give someone venturing out into the global market place?
A: Build out a strategy and take those risks to achieve your goal. Also please value your time and everyone around you. We only have so much of it and it’s not wise to waste it. Great people talk about ideas; ordinary people talk about things; small-minded people talk about other people. Take that into consideration when you’re striving toward achieving something big.