Cynical in Cudworth: Applications and Nominations

by SaskMusic

August 6, 2009 in Ask Percy

Dear Percy,
So, what’s the deal with applying to showcases like the WCMAs? And really, is there any point in nominating our CD for awards like the CCMAs, WCMAs, or the Junos?
- Cynical in Cudworth

Hey Cynical,

So glad you asked…gives me the chance to talk about a bunch of things that make my gills turn a little black! Ya know…no one will ever see your pearl if you keep it locked in an oyster at the bottom of your own bowl!

All right - let’s deal with showcases first. I know, I know…it’s the age-old debate about how effective they really are. There have been times when I, myself, have wondered about the value of showcasing. Here’s my take: you need to look at each showcase individually and consider the benefits of attending. For example, maybe you really don’t have any buzz, but your spot is right before a band that DOES have a lot of buzz. I'd probably take that showcase! Maybe you are really new to the industry and the showcase spot isn’t so great, but they are offering you a conference pass. Even if the showcase itself doesn’t bring a lot of rewards, the networking opportunity could be a critical step in your career. I would probably take that showcase too, and then build a tour leading up to it.

Those of you who've made some contacts in the industry, and maybe have some buzz going, can use the showcase to connect with people face-to-face. If you have a personal relationship with someone, chances are good that they'll come out to see you. (Did you let them know in advance that you were showcasing?) You gotta take into account the number of bands showcasing, who you are on a bill with, the venue you'll be in, the day/time of your spot, and how that timing fits into the overall event. Do the work – find out who is planning to attend the conference, connect with those people, create relationships, get them out to your showcase, get your OWN buzz going.

Yep – the Junos, the CCMAs and the WCMAs are comin’ to Saskatchewan. (We are SO excited!) What are you doing to get ready? Let’s talk about awards. Mmm-hmm, I think you need to be READY to apply to these award opportunities, but I also think a lot of folks in Saskatchewan are just too humble to put their work out there. What is with the attitude of “I’m JUST from Saskatchewan and they aren’t going to pay any attention to me?” Need I remind everyone of Eileen Laverty’s Prairie Music Award win for Outstanding Roots Recording? There's lots more examples. Yes, I think you should submit for awards, one reason being that the jurists looking at these submissions are at the top of their fields...even if you don’t get the nomination, you may find other doors opening. If you get the nomination, even better! But then, you gotta do some work! Spread the word about your nom, and give voters a way to sample your work to help them with their decision.

Here’s my point. Are you fighting the current, or using it to swim faster? How are you taking responsibility for building your own buzz? You can’t gripe to anyone else if you aren’t doing the work. If you don’t get that grant, or showcase, or nomination, what are you doing to learn from the experience? Where have you gone to get the critical, honest feedback to make a better submission?

As my colleagues here say, this is YOUR business, so take responsibility for it! Learn what you need to learn, take advantage of every opportunity, honestly consider where and how you need to improve, and steer your own boat. (With a little help from SaskMusic.)

Groovin’ and Swimmin’,

Originally published Summer 2006.

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