Meet the January Music Meeting Panelists

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January Music Meeting 2016
Vivian Barclay
Taylor Knox
Tao-Ming Lau
Stu Anderson
Stefan Braun
Sam Rayner
Rebecca Webster
Lauren Swan
Karen Kosowski
Jon Weisz
Esra Firatli
Denholm Whale
David Schellenberg
Dan Hawie
Alexa Dirks

The pencils are sharpened and the schedules are done... January Music Meeting is back and ready to host some of Canada’s top music industry pros for the fifth edition of the winter mini-conference. Label, agent, management, festival, publishing, and publicity representatives will converge in the Manitoba Music building to discuss the state of Canada’s independent music industry and provide concrete advice on how to succeed in the ever-changing music business.

In conjunction with Big Fun Festival, we kick off this four-day gathering on January 25 with a discussion on Mental Health in Music. The next three days will be a fantastic opportunity to gain access to tastemakers and experts from across the country while connecting with local artists and industry peers, at a conference designed and held right here in Manitoba. Be sure to take the time to research the speakers ahead of time, particularly if you're requesting one-on-one meetings.

Here's a little something to get you started... 

Alexa Dirks, aka Begonia, has a timbre that recalls the golden age of soul, proud and courageous. Known for her voice in the JUNO Award winning harmony driven group Chic Gamine, Dirks was joined in studio by producers Matt Schellenberg (Royal Canoe) and Matt Peters (Royal Canoe, Close Talker), to record her debut, Lady In Mind, which The Globe & Mail claimed to be "an audacious adventure in modern soul, with gospel inspirations and updated takes on finger-snapping Motown pop and late 20th-century R&B." Penned on the road or during brief stops at home in Winnipeg the songs on Lady In Mind have already earned Begonia Western Canadian Music Award nominations for both Songwriter Of The Year and Breakout Artist Of The Year and a #1 on CBC Radio 2’s Top 20.

Dan Hawie is a marketing and project manager at Last Gang Records. He has worked several Grammy and JUNO Award-winning artists over the years at Dine Alone Records. Now at Last Gang/eOne, he is currently overseeing record cycles for Death From Above, Chromeo, Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton, Stars, Ryan Hemsworth, Rhye, Holy Fuck, No Warning, and more.

David Schellenberg is the frontman and guitarist of Winnipeg based noise rock trio Tunic. The band formed in 2012 and has been touring North America heavily ever since. Boss is the newest offering from the trio and was released in North America in July of 2017. Now the EP will see it's release in Germany with DanCan Music this January with a tour of Europe this February to follow. Schellenberg has also toured nationally and internationally with bands such as Living Hour and Les Jupes. Aside from performing, David has nine years experience of booking and promoting shows in Winnipeg and is now a co-owner/talent buyer for The Good Will Social Club, agent with First Date Touring, and one of the artistic directors for the Big Fun Festival. 

Denhom Whale is the founder of Beeswax Booking, co-founder of Buzz Records, club booker at The Baby G, The Garrison in Toronto, and the bassist/synth guy in Odonis Odonis.

Esra Firatli is the marketing and project manager of Toronto-based labels Sleepless Records and The Hand Recordings. The labels are home to July Talk, Programm, Shade, and Sunshine & The Blue Moon, and are developing artists and bands for 2018 releases to be announced shortly.

Jon Weisz is the founder and director of Indie Montreal, an artist development and label services company specializing in the province of Quebec. IMTL has a number of departments, including a booking agency, media relations agency, concert promoter, street marketing agency and consultancy. With over 12 years' experience in the music business, Weisz is also involved in a number of music industry organizations like Music Canada Live, FACTOR, RSAQ, GAMIQ, and the WCMAs, and likes huskies, hockey and long walks on the beach.

Producer and songwriter Karen Kosowski recently landed a string of pop and country radio hits including her first U.S. Pop Top 40 with Tryon’s “Somebody To Love Me” and the Top 10 Canadian Country Radio hit “Motel Flamingo” for Madeline Merlo. Kosowski’s radio successes as a producer have continued with the #4 Billboard AC hit “It Won’t Be Christmas” and the Top 20 AC/Top 30 Hot AC hit “Worst Enemy” (one of the top 50 most-spun songs on Canadian AC Radio in 2016) for Emma-Lee. As a writer, Kosowski has written or co-written many other charting songs including the Top 30 Hot AC hit “Colours” for Michelle Treacy, and Top 40 Canadian Country Radio hit “Only The Strong Survive” for Alee. Having written and produced the music for the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games medal ceremonies, Kosowski has also landed numerous tv/film placements both on major television networks and in feature films. In addition to a 2016 Canadian Screen Awards nomination in the category of Achievement in Music - Best Original Song, she also received a nomination for Producer of the Year in the 2015 NOW Magazine ‘Best of Toronto’ poll. Kosowski is currently splitting her time between Toronto and Nashville, working with new talent from Liz Rose Music Publishing, Big Deal Music Publishing, BMG Publishing and more.

Lauren Swan has worked in event coordination, music marketing, public relations, and event management. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of The Big Fun Festival, an annual Winnipeg music festival held the last weekend of January. Formerly the Marketing Coordinator for the 6 time WCMA Venue of the Year award winning West End Cultural Centre, Lauren currently works in digital media advertising. An active member of the Winnipeg music community,  Lauren vice-chairs the UMFM (University of Manitoba campus radio station) board, is a founding member of the all female/non-binary DJ collective The Vinyl Salon, and hosts a weekly record night and The Good Will Social Club called Small Talk.

Marni Wandner is the founder and president of Sneak Attack Media, a boutique digital marketing company based in New York that offers creative services, social media, online publicity, brand activations, and strategic partnerships. From Sneak Attack’s start in 2006, Wandner has drawn upon her background as an artist and artist manager to quickly identify and drive strategies that challenge conventional thinking to design innovative, authentic, holistic campaigns for her clients across the music, entertainment and lifestyle sectors. She also started the Speakeasy: Music + Tech Mixer, a quarterly(ish) networking event that Sneak Attack hosts along with concert app Bandsintown. Wandner has spoken about digital marketing at SXSW, A2IM Indie Week, CMJ, Eurosonic, by:Larm, Music & Media Finland, The Great Escape, Social Media Week, the San Diego Music Thing, Halifax Pop Explosion, Mondo.NYC Music Festival and Tech Summit, New York University and Hunter College and at seminars for Export Music Sweden and non-profit organization Women in Music. As an extension of her work with Sneak Attack, she also works one-on-one with clients who want to develop and build their personal brand. She’s also a certified health coach and can often be found in her Brooklyn kitchen, preparing things that will likely end up on her Instagram account. 

Prior to joining the A&R team at SOCAN, Melissa Cameron was an assistant at the well-known booking agency UTA (formerly The Agency Group), working closely with artists such as A Tribe Called Red, Arkells, Andy Shauf, Half Moon Run, Wintersleep, and LIGHTS. She began her career in music as a writer and performer, attending Humber College for Jazz. Following her Bachelor of Music, she worked in various areas of the industry, including artist management, grant writing, tour coordinating, jingle singing, and teaching. In addition to her A&R role at SOCAN, Melissa is a faculty member at the non-profit community music school, Regent Park School of Music. 

Since beginning Webster Media Consulting, Rebecca Webster's client list has included the Grammy-winning band the Arcade Fire (The Suburbs), Will Butler, Polaris winners Patrick Watson, Karkwa, Fucked Up, and Shad as well as the iconic Marianne Faithfull, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Steve Earle, The GOASTT, Ben Folds, Chilly Gonzales, Corb Lund, Wintersleep, Lisa LeBlanc, among others. Webster is an active member of CARAS, chairing the Francophone committee and is the founder of the Electronic Category for the JUNO Awards. 2018 looks to be like an exciting year with active clients including Zaki Ibrahim, Milk & Bone, Chilly Gonzales, and many more. 

Raised in the East Coast, Sam Rayner has been in the music scene for over seven years as an artist and industry professional, and through these musical endeavours, he has grown to love the mechanics of the evolving industry. He moved to Toronto in pursuit of more experience, and began working for True North Records, where he worked in digital assets and A&R. Rayner joined the CIMA and MusicOntario staff in 2016 as membership services coordinator where he oversees day-to-day membership relations as well as the CIMA 20/40 independent music charts and Road Gold Certification. 

As one of the founders of the Big Fun Festival Stefan Braun currently sits as the curator/artistic director of the festival. Having worked in the industry for over a decade Braun has worked in promotion, booking and logistics for many projects across the city. Alongside festival promotion and curation he also books/manages his own musical projects touring extensively across North America.

Stu Anderson founded Mighty Cypress Talent Inc. in 2015 as a full-service talent management, entertainment buying, and event production company. Mighty Cypress is strongly focused on talent management, championing the success of a diverse roster of artists around the world. Anderson currently manages the careers of Begonia, The Bros. Landreth, Cairo Knife Fight, Joey Landreth, Living Hour, and Royal Canoe. His client list also includes talent buying and production for numerous festival and special event clients.  Anderson previously spent five years as a concert booking agent at Paquin Artists Agency.

Tao-Ming Lau was one of the music programmers at Pride Toronto 2017 booking many national and international queer and trans performers. In recent years, she was also agency associate at The Billions Corporation, a Chicago-based touring and music booking agency, and Universal Music Canada in 2015. On the side, Tao has managed Lido Pimienta, Polaris Prize winner 2017 and well as 2016 Juno-nominated soul singer Tanika Charles. 

Singer/songwriter Taylor Knox’s first full-length album, LOVE, exemplifies his direct and utterly irresistible approach, produced by Afie Jurvanen (aka Bahamas) in tandem with co-producer Josh Korody and the mixing team of Gus Van Go and Werner F. While so much of LOVE sounds effortless, it’s the direct result of the wealth of experience Knox gained over the past decade through playing with a host of Canada’s most acclaimed artists, including Owen Pallett, Rich Aucoin, Luke Doucet, Hayden, Jason Collett, and Alvvays. With LOVE, Knox has established his own uncompromising artistic voice. You will fall for this album—hard—and in return, it will always be there to give you exactly what you need.

Vivian Barclay is the general manager of Warner/Chappell Music Canada. She is a classically-trained musician with a degree in Radio & Television from Ryerson University. Experienced in radio, artist management, publicity, and promotion, she has composed music for television commercials and won awards for her film sound production and digital audio editing talents. At Warner/Chappell, she works with a diverse roster of songwriters, including Jully Black, Producer Lantz, Maurice Moore, Machel Montano, Barenaked ladies, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald and is also responsible for the administration of the 200-year-old company’s global catalogue, which includes George and Ira Gershwin, Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé, Jay -Z, Michael Bublé, Murda Beatz, and PARTYNEXTDOOR. Barclay currently sits on the boards of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and SOCAN. She is also active in community development projects Habitat for Humanity and Food for the poor.

Mental Health in Music Speakers


Uzoma Asagwara is an entrepreneur, registered psychiatric nurse, former member of the Premier's Advisory Council on education, poverty, and citizenship, retired member of the Canadian Women's National basketball team, and founder of QPOC Winnipeg. QPOC is an initiative that creates safer spaces for queer and trans people of colour in Winnipeg.

Jón Jackson Olafson coordinates counselling services and mental health initiatives for Winnipeg’s largest urban school division, is a registered clinical therapist in private practice, and teaches in the Counselling Psychology Department at the University of Manitoba. As DJ J. Jackson, he is one half of Winnipeg’s favourite DJ duo, House of Gold Diamonds. He performs regularly across the city (including Big Fun 2016) and has headlined events ranging from Toronto, all the way to Iceland Pride.

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