For up-and-coming musicians, we won’t mince words: things are tough. Sure, it’s easy enough to record a half-decent demo on Garageband, upload songs to Soundcloud, and try to leap onto local bills. But then comes the hard question:
What comes next?
It’s a difficult question to answer, and most of the obvious options are terrible: you could sign up for a pay-to-play showcase, but those are all essentially pyramid schemes—you’d be better off working for Cutco, selling knives door-to-door. You could pursue a music career by enrolling in a music-specific college or university program, but that’s more of an option if you want to record—not play‒in bands. Or you can keep your head down and hope to get noticed, but that requires luck, talent, connections, and even more luck.
Y’all. Things are hard. But that’s why we dig the Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Program, supported by RBC, a competition designed for the next generation of musicians by Canada’s Walk of Fame.. No, it doesn’t put you in Grammy territory yet, but it’s meant to help emerging artists who are just starting their careers, and it offers tangible rewards.
Cold, hard cash.
Without sounding like a money-grubbing Monopoly Man, a simple fact is you need money to be an artist. You need money to record. You need money to print merch. You need money to tour (especially in Canada—ever tried driving from Toronto to Winnipeg?) You need money to eat terrible frozen gas-station burritos on tour. And the Music Mentorship Prize offers a lot of this hard-sought money: The Grand Prize includes $25,000 cash. And there’s also cash for the second prize winner and five finalists.
The opportunity to play in front of tons of people
Whether you choose to spend the $25K on touring is up to you. But winning the Emerging Artist Music Mentorship Program will give you the chance to perform at a Canada’s Walk of Fame event—of which there are several options.
Professional recording time
The program offers 25 hours of recording sessions. In previous years, winners have laid tape at Bathouse Studios, the Tragically Hip’s recording haunt, and Toronto’s respected Metalworks Studios. This year, the recording locations are to be determined—but believe us, they’re impressive.
Mentorship from people who’ve been through it all
In previous years, the program’s had some A-list mentors: Think Gil Moore, Rik Emmett, and the Hip’s Gord Sinclair. Like the recording studio awarded, the program’s mentors have yet to be announced, but rest assured: You’ll get an amazing opportunity to meet agents, music honchos, and other bands (duh). We’ll let you know one detail—there will be a private career mentorship session with Universal Music Canada. Excited? We are, too.
Album artwork design
We’ll be dreadfully honest, here: Some—no, lots—of musicians should stick to what they’re good at, and that’s playing music. Because when guitar-wielders take a stab at MS-Paint, some horrific experiments ensue. That’s why so many eye-torching amateur album covers are littered with neon Comic Sans, capital letter names using IMPACT font alongside track titles using Papyrus. (Which always gives off a gross Smashing Pumpkins-meets-1996 shawarma joint vibe.)
Thankfully, Canada’s Walk of Fame’s grand prize pairs its winners with Eric McBain, a design pro who’s created eye-popping artwork for everyone from the Red Cross to July Talk. By our estimates, he’s never even used Papyrus.
The whole package is worth $100,000
Tally up points one through five, and the entire value of the prize clocks in at $100,000. That’s roughly the price of three of John Lennon’s molars. Or a single pair of Drake’s Air Jordans. And… well, we could go on, but we’ll just assure you that it’s a lot of money.
Here’s how to win it all: Head over to the Canada’s Walk of Fame website for full competition rules and details. Submit a performance video or audio file online and enter to win. The deadline is April 30, so get going and good luck!