I’ve left CIRAA, No New Film, & Other Casualties of 2011

Hi there, How are you? I’m well. I realized that perhaps it was time for a little update. I’ve been getting questions recently about my new film, about CIRAA, my work with Ambrosia Records, and other projects I was working on last year. Well, I had high hopes for 2011, but things didn’t turn out as expected. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly from 2011:

Left my job at St-Ambroise

Hey, I already wrote about this. I have no regrets, but leaving my job as Program Director of the Centre St-Ambroise & Terrasse St-Ambroise affected me much more than I thought it would. Those 2 venues are just a drop in the bucket in the music industry; frankly, they’re a drop in the bucket of the Montreal music scene, but it was my drop in the bucket. So when I left, even though I had 100% control over my life and my schedule, I found myself being in charge of/responsible for, well, not very much. I had a lot of responsibility in that job, and was given pretty much total freedom to make the decisions that I thought were best for the 2 venues (my boss would often ask “what is your gut telling you? Your gut is usually right, so go with that”). It took me a while to truly appreciate the kind of confidence I was given and freedom I had in that job. Anyway, bottom line is that I wanted to hit the ground running after leaving that job in March, but the truth is that I spent a good part of the year trying to find my place, no doubt at least partially because I was still processing that drastic change in my life.

No New Film

One of the main reasons for leaving St-Ambroise was so that I could focus more energy on making a follow-up film to “What is INDIE?”. I had even started blogging about it in late 2010, where I publicly announced that I was working on a new film. Well, it turns out that Derek Sivers was right. I came to realize that I lacked the passion for making another movie. After the last film took 2 years, working long hours each and everyday to see it through, I could feel that I wasn’t ready to make that kind of sacrifice again. Maybe I’m getting old(er) and don’t have the energy, or maybe it was fear of taking that kind of financial risk again (I spent a small fortune of (borrowed) money the first time around). Whatever it was, I just wasn’t feeling inspired to fully jump into the project, and it slowly faded away as a priority in my life. I appreciate the kind words of encouragement from everyone who has reached out to me the past year, it meant a lot. But the project was just not meant to be, at least for now. I did a lot of research and pre-production work that might go towards other projects like blog posts, podcasts, ebooks etc., so we'll see.

Left Ambrosia Records

Some of you might remember that I started working at a record label called Ambrosia last April. Well, I hope that I’ve finally learned my lesson that I’d much rather be friends with my friends, than do business with my friends. It quickly became apparent that my buddy George Azzi (who runs the label) and I had stopped hanging out as friends and only saw each other at the office, so with other options available to me for paid work, I left Ambrosia in July.

Ember Swift

During my brief time with Ambrosia Records, I brought my friend and successful indie artist Ember Swift into the picture. She had asked me to manage her, something we had discussed in the past, and I thought with the infrastructure offered by the label, it would be a good time to take that on. Not so much, as it just never seemed to work out the way we wanted. Although I was never really officially her manager, I tried helping out with some administrative duties even after leaving Ambrosia, but I was simply being pulled in too many directions, and Ember always seemed to fall off the priority list. We remained honest with each other throughout the process and agreed to go our separate ways professionally late last year, but thankfully still maintain our friendship.

CIRAA: No Longer Director of Member Services

After a year as the Director of Member Services for the Canadian Independent Recording Artists’ Association (CIRAA), I decided not to renew my contract, which was a tough decision. I helped CIRAA launch a new grant program (Groundbreaker Grant), and for the better part of the year, I operated the lottery system that chose the winners and gave away $2000+ every month to indie artists from across the country. Not a bad gig at all. I also helped secure some new sponsors, which raised the monthly pot of money to $2600 as well as add a secondary prize pool to the program, which I'm very proud of. But in the end, I wanted to focus my time and energy on fewer projects, so I decided to leave my position with CIRAA. I had a good experience and think we did some great work together. Thankfully, they’ve welcomed me back onto the board of directors, so I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the organization as a board member.

Other casualties of 2011: Folquebec, YES Montreal

A few more housekeeping announcements: I left the board of directors of Folquebec, after about 2 years of service (simply put: it was time for me to move on). I also resigned from the YES Montreal Artist Conference organizing committee, after serving for many years on the committee. I felt it was time to let someone else from the local music community provide some input for the event.

On a more positive note...

Although the year didn’t exactly turned out how I had planned, it certainly wasn’t all bad. Some of you might have heard me talk about a band I started to manage, Irreverend James and the Critical Mass Choir. After I got involved with the band in July, we worked hard, with the support of some great friends, and accomplished the following:
  • 7 shows, including a showcase at M for Montreal and the SMIM Conference at Place-des-Arts, ending the year with a December show at the beautiful Ukrainian Federation
  • Signed with booking agency Bonsound, joining an amazing roster that includes Malajube, Radio Radio, Chinatown, and Random Recipe
  • Front cover of the Montreal Gazette
  • Interview in the Montreal Mirror
  • Feature interviews on CBC Television and CBC Radio
  • Several other interviews, reviews, and plays on radio, podcasts and blogs.
Not bad for a 5-month stretch. 2012 should be an exciting year for the band.

Bandzoogle: Nothing but good times

Who knew that going for a coffee with Bandzoogle CEO David Dufresne last March would completely change my life? Ironically, I initially turned down his offer to pay me for blog posts. I’ve always admired the company, proud that they were based in Montreal and founded by musicians (and they were even one of the promotional partners for my film). So I had no problem donating a blog post to them every so often. But David was persistent, and wanted more commitment from me for content, so I started working about 10 hours/week for the company last April. Well, I’m now working almost full-time as their Community Manager (lots of blogging + social media), which has given me the opportunity to focus on my writing, work from home (which I’m especially enjoying during the winter), and to top it all off, travel to music conferences. They sent me to the OCFF conference last Fall, and will be sending me to Folk Alliance in Memphis in February, and potentially the ASCAP EXPO in Los Angeles in April. Life is very, very good. ***** OK, I think we’re all caught up now. I think 2011 was the year of saying “Yes”, but I think 2012 will be the year of saying “No”. Rather than spreading myself too thin by saying yes to working on so many new projects, my goal this year is to quietly focus my time and energy on just a few projects, which is going to mean saying no to some things that come up; something that I clearly haven't been so good at in the past. We’ll see how it all turns out... So thanks again for reading and for your continued support, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. Cheers, Dave Twitter: @dave_cool

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