For the first time ever, a collaboration among current students and alumni of Western will look at the changes within the popular music industry, and what this means for young talent about to enter it.
On Dec. 8, Western is hosting the first ‘Charting: Popular Music Industry Summit’ at Talbot College. The event has been conceived and organized by undergraduate students majoring in popular music studies. The undergraduate program includes theoretical and practical studies in popular music, taught through collaborative projects, in a system unique to Western.
The event brings noted Western alumni back to campus to share their insights and provide guidance. With London, Ont. being declared Canada’s first City of Music by UNESCO last year, the undergraduate students realized there was a lot of interest among their contemporaries in understanding the industry’s changing requirements.
“We wanted to find ways to engage not only current students but future students as well, to see and understand the popular music industry. We know our alumni have the experience and insights, and wanted to bring them together,” said second-year music student Emanuella Stratas, who is also a pop and R&B singer-songwriter and one of the event organizers.
Presenting a balanced and accurate picture of the industry to those planning to enter it was one of the goals of the organizers.
“We wanted to show that songwriters are able to have stable incomes as professionals. They might not all be superstars earning in the millions, but they will be able to earn a good living,” said Stratas.
The summit also comes after a long hiatus in terms of personal connections among industry insiders and students. “Because of COVID-19, there has been a lack of in-person experiences. This summit plugs a little bit of a hole for all of us,” said co-organizer Benjamin Heffernan, fourth-year music student and an indie-pop artist from London, Ont. who has been nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award as well as a Forest City London Music Award.
“A problem for people going into the industry is there is no set way to do it. This is stressful for both students and parents. Hearing from people who have done it can be enlightening and motivating,” he said.
The keynote speaker will be Juno-nominated producer and songwriter Mike Sonier, BA’12. Canadian country music star Genevieve Fisher, BA’14 will present with her manager Remo Di Cesare and singer-songwriter Patrick Clark, on how to find a professional foothold in the industry.
Western popular music studies faculty member Jay Hodgson will have a session on music production.
Dan Shore, manager, partner development at Sony Music Entertainment Canada will host a panel titled ‘Music Business’ with London’s music industry development officer Cory Crossman and music professor Matt Shelvock.
The student organizers of the summit hope to host another event in the near future, this time focusing on future students, to introduce them to the program, the industry and the London music scene.
Participants can register for the event here.