By Laura Collins // Photo by Laura Collins
Navigating in today’s music industry can be overwhelming to many who are dreaming of success and a career as a musician, and hoping to stand out in the competitive market saturated with so many other musicians hoping to make it.
Whereas before musicians would play as many shows they possibly could, hoping to be discovered by record label agents, these days many talented young people don’t necessarily know where to even start, and cross their fingers on someone discovering their tunes on various social media platforms.
In reality finding success is a lot of hard work and usually involves experiencing many disappointments before everything falls into place.
Ottawa’s newest artist management company, The Artist Alliance Company opened in August 2018 right in the heart of the market at 283 Dalhousie.
Originally from Edmonton, owner and brains behind the company, Jason Wilkinson, has an extensive career as a touring and recording musician, and after settling down in Ottawa to raise a family and working in the service industry, he decided he needed to continue pursuing his dream of working in the music industry again.
Wilkinson fronted a Vancouver band Superbeing for 10 years, before forming Beyond The Fall, who were signed with the American label EO Records and toured headlining shows across North America before calling it quits. Even when touring with the band, he made sure to relentlessly work on the business side of things as well.
“I had stepped back from the industry for a while, never completely giving it up, but it was something that deep down I missed every day. I was approached by investors to start an artist management company, and it didn’t take much to twist my arm,” Wilkinson laughed. “I’ve said for many, many years that I wish we had this kind of support years ago when we were starting out or trying to get over the next hump.”
After seeing an old friend and bandmate Dan Swiminer being up for Producer of the Year at the CCMAs, Wilkinson said he felt inspired to dig deep and get back to his roots again.
With some help from his father, Wilkinson designed and renovated the space he found at Byward Market and spent about two months over the summer to get everything completed. A lot of the ideas for the design of the space came from some of the studios he worked at during his time in Vancouver.
“We have created the comfortable working environment at the studio. It’s a “take off your shoes”, warm and productive kind of vibe. Getting away from the distractions of home and coming here, it just helps to get your shit done. Artists are welcome to just come down and hang out, write, relax feel the vibe. Use one of the writing rooms and make music,” said Wilkinson.
The Artist Alliance Company has a state of the art recording and production studio, and provides various services anywhere from producing and engineering, to performance and songwriting and tour development, and assisting the artists with promotion and marketing.
On board at the The Artist Alliance Company are also vocal coach Mariah Fridgen, who has studied Music Theatre and Voice and St. Clair College and is heavily involved in the Ottawa music scene, as well as talented singer-songwriter James Campbell, who will be providing songwriting development.
“There is so much amazing talent in this country and we need to let them have their voices heard too. There are a lot of avenues these days for artists to get their music out. I feel it’s harder to stand out now though. There are a lot of old school ways that you can mix with new school tech to get yourself noticed though. And it works,” said Wilkinson.
He is hoping to collaborate with artists at any stages of their career, and help them get better and succeed at what they are passionate about.
“Seeing the faces of the artists light up after receiving new insights to the problem they have come to see me about is rewarding. Most of the times these insights are kept as secrets, and I believe they should just be taught to everyone,” Wilkinson said. “Years ago when I was complaining about something in the industry, Dave Benedict, the bass player from one of my old bands said to me: ‘Jason, there’s room for everyone in the industry. Just relax and let it happen.’ I never forgot that.”
On top of helping individual artists and bands, The Artist Alliance Company is also working on running some seminars for parents who are managing their children’s careers, as well as a business seminars.
“We are a company that truly cares about the future of our fellow artists. I’ve been there, gone through the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I came out of it with a wealth of knowledge. You’re either all in or you’re all out, there is no in between,” Wilkinson said. “Making it in the music business means ultimate sacrifice on a daily basis. The great thing is, it can be done. Comes down to how much you want it.”