Oh Just Eat It Recipe for Success for Bands

Toronto band CAYM - Jeremy Sarrazin, Tyler Reiner, Julian Bartucci and Gord Laferla

I saw the band CAYM perform on March 10. I really like that band. Tyler Reiner is a great drummer and he works tirelessly to promote the band and keep in touch with his fans. Jeremy Sarrazin is a great front man with tons of personality and looks great on stage. Together with guitarist Gord Laferla, the band is able to achieve a full sound on the guitars. The whole band works well together – even with the addition of a new bassist, Julian Bartucci. I started to wonder about the music the band is playing. They are hardcore metal with Sarrazin growling the lyrics. Despite the large number of bands playing hardcore metal, there doesn’t seem to be much of an audience for it in Toronto. CAYM is one of the better bands, regularly gigging, and they have only 1,081 likes on their Facebook page. They’ve uploaded 42 videos and only have a total of 4,123 views. They have 81 followers on Twitter. Their EP single “Jukai” has 223 plays on Myspace. They get a pretty good audience turn out depending where they play, but they generally play small venues in Toronto.

The nice boys in CAYM may think i’m picking on them, but not at all. They may have an excellent business plan for all i know, but they are a perfect example of a good band that could be great. They work hard and they are good musicians and good performers. So how does an indie band like CAYM get a large following when they can’t afford to get out of their home town? How does a band make money without a large audience?

Sure, it’s an art form right? It’s not about the money? That’s what people who can’t make money have to say. The reality is, if you can sell millions of songs for 99 cents and thousands of t-shirts, then you will have some money. Are you ever going to be able to sell that much?

i don’t really believe in the music machine any more…it’s a broken machine, it’s a tired old, broken down machine…and i don’t believe in it any more…but i believe in my songs…my dreams. ~ Aaron Peters, Musician/Songwriter


“We musicians all suffer from the same thing. We’re lousy f*cking business people.” ~ Greg Anzelc, Drummer

It’s heartbreaking to sit on the edge of the Toronto music scene watching the players struggle. Most of the musicians i know don’t really care about making money. They just want people to listen to their music. They don’t even attempt to sell their music. They give it away. They might sell a t-shirt at a show.

There are people making money in this business though. I’ve become curious about it, so i did some research and this is what i’ve found. Assuming you have the necessary foundation – you’re a really good band (like CAYM) who gives a great live performance – here’s the “Oh Just Eat It Recipe for Success for Bands”. I’m not saying you’ll get rich with this recipe, but you might get a little famous.


Write a really good song. I mean a REALLY good song. You only need one really good song to get radio play and to create buzz.


Sure everyone can record in their basement these days. Go ahead. The technology is available. However, if you want to be noticed by radio, you need to have a really well produced song to offer. Spend the money on an experienced producer who’s worked with other great bands in your genre. Get a producer who knows how to professionally mix to give you the necessary sound for radio play. Get that one good multi-track song. Once you have your song professionally recorded, you can share it with radio and even potentially use the demo to license to TV/Film and other media to actually start making some money with your song. You love your music. Invest in it.


With the popularity of handheld devices making it harder to view videos online, is it even worthwhile putting money and effort into a youtube video? The answer is yes. A video is an excellent promotional tool. The video will present your band as the whole package – sound, look and style.

Not that I encourage you to sign to a label, but as an example of the power of this promotional tool let’s look at the case of SUM 41. In 1999, SUM 41 signed a deal with Island Records after sending the label a videotape of the band in water gun fights while their music played in the background.

You’ll notice the bands online who do covers of songs get a lot of hits. A really good cover can go viral.

If you’re looking to produce a professional quality video, Ohjusteatit.ca can help. Aaron Peters is a videographer. He has worked with many bands and has a lot of creative ideas to share with you. Don’t be afraid to contact him just to talk about it. He’s a musician and understands your world.


Buy the Indie Bible through the Ohjusteatit.ca blog and find radio Music Directors/Programming Directors to send your really good song to and ask them to play it on air. Follow up regularly with the radio stations and do your own radio tracking. Just regular phone calls – that’s all radio tracking is. It’s not rocket science.

I recently made the Indie Bible available through Ohjusteatit.ca. The Indie Bible lists thousands of places where you can get your music reviewed and your songs played on the radio.

NICKELBACK did it. They did their own radio tracking and got radio play across North America. They released an album and toured like maniacs. They went from unknown to playing in front of millions. They did this after they dumped their managers and handled things themselves.


Your band needs to become legend. Shania Twain created a legend with the story of her Ojibway upbringing and the fact that she cared for her siblings after her parents died while still pursuing her career in music. People love the story and it’s become part of her image.

You may not naturally have a compelling story to tell about your band, so get creative. What image would you like to have? Radio wants to know about you, your publicist needs something to sell to media for you, and your fans want to know your story.


PRINCE pulled off a cute little trick in 2004. During the Musicology Tour, he included the price of the CD in the concert ticket sales. With every concert ticket purchased, get a CD. The album was certified platinum by Billboard in June 2004 and was certified double platinum in late January 2005. This prompted Billboard magazine and Nielsen SoundScan to change its chart data methodology: For future album releases, Billboard says that customers “must be given an option to either add the CD to the ticket purchase or forgo the CD for a reduced ticket-only price.”

Mick Jagger likes to chart out where the ROLLING STONES tours will “go to profit”. Tours are expensive up to a point, but if they are managed properly, the profit will begin to happen after a certain amount of ticket sales.

I give you these two examples because the next thing you need to do after achieving radio play is tour and gig in all the cities where you achieved radio play.

The Indie Venue Bible, available on the Ohjusteatit.ca blog, is a directory of live music venues in North America. You’ll find thousands of bars, coffee shops, restaurants, house concerts, theatres, clubs, halls, churches, book stores, festivals and colleges. I suggest you get it. Once you’ve tracked your radio, open the Venue Bible and start booking venues.


When you’ve decided what cities to include in your tour, contact a publicist. Your publicist will arrange interviews at the radio stations and maybe even with the local print and television media.

It needs to be pointed out here that there is a difference between a Publicist and a Manager. A Manager will advise and guide the band business. A Publicist is only responsible for publicity for the band. A Publicist’s job is to get you noticed by as many people as possible.


Despite having free social media and a publicist promoting your band, you will still need to advertise though the customary channels. IRON MAIDEN do television commercials to promote their tours. You may not have enough money to do that, but you will at least need to advertise in the local newspapers. You’ll also need posters, of course.


Make your publicist’s job easier by offering up something a little different. Give the publicist “a hook”.

Examples of something different would be KISS and their makeup; the 5 members of WALK OFF THE EARTH playing one guitar in a music video; or SUM 41 having a water fight. Try to do something that hasn’t been done.

You can also offer something different by connecting your band to a charitable cause.

Providing “a hook” gives you something more to talk to the media about.

How do you catch a unique rabbit? You nique up on it.


Aaron is always arguing that social media doesn’t matter. You can get as many likes on your Facebook page as you like and those people still won’t buy your music or attend your gigs. This is true, but why would you ignore a perfectly good and FREE format for promoting your brand?

Journalists, venue booking agents, fans, they’re all looking for you online to check you out. They want to read your bio, view your videos, download any free music available. They will notice if you don’t have any recent posts. They will notice how many views you have on that video and how many “likes” you have on your page. They will pay attention to how many event invites you send. They will get to know you through your status updates and Tweets.

I don’t completely agree with Aaron’s assessment of social media. I believe it’s just not there yet. I believe it’s becoming a more powerful tool all the time. It’s going through growing pains.

I’m not the only one who recognizes this. In December 2010, Billboard announced a new chart titled Social 50, which ranks the most active artists on the world’s leading social networking sites. The Social 50 chart tallies artists’ popularity using their weekly additions of friends/fans/followers, along with weekly artist page views and weekly song plays on Myspace, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and iLike.

In January 2011, Billboard introduced another chart called Uncharted, which lists new and developing artists, who are yet to appear on any major Billboard chart, “…regardless of their country of origin.”. The ranking is based on the views and fans on social networking websites like Myspace and Facebook. To appear on Uncharted, the artists must be registered Myspace Music artists, and should not have appeared on any major Billboard charts before.

This charting doesn’t translate into sales. It does however recognize your online efforts. It will also be noticed by people who can help you translate this into sales. Managing social media is very time consuming. Ask your mom if she’ll do it for you. Whatever you have to do to have an online presence, do it.

In summary, you don’t need a manager. You don’t need a record label. You have all the tools. You’re walking in two worlds. One is real, one is not. Work with both and do it yourself.


Don’t lose hope. As the self-proclaimed cheerleader for Toronto bands, I say “you can do this!”. Just do it with a business plan. Your band is a brand and your music is your product. Sell it. Also sell t-shirts, but everyone is selling t-shirts. Try to think outside the box. Open a tattoo parlour, for example, and send all your fans there to get their tatt. Come up with interesting product ideas that you can sell using your band’s fame and all the time and money you’ve invested in promotion. It’s called the music “business”. Treat it like a business.

“Despite the apparent bad news about the decline in album and CD sales, the truth is the music industry as we have known it is in transition, and the emerging model is incredibly exciting, larger and far more profitable than it has ever been. Technology has changed the way people can interact, discover and listen to music. It used to be just commercial radio, MTV, buying a CD and getting a mix tape. Now music has been unleashed from the 5″ circular disc and is everywhere to buy, stream, discover share and listen to. With these changes more people are listening, discovering, and consuming music. More music is actually being bought then ever before. With this change, more artist service industries are emerging and more fame and money are being generated in more ways and going to more musicians and businesses than ever before.” ~ Tunecore.com

Naked Men and Spaghetti Squash – A Recipe For Fun!

There’s nothing I find more boring than the old band interview. They’re touring, they’re recording, someone’s having a baby. Not much changes from band to band in that format.

We’ve been providing Youtube videos that introduce you to the musicians. We want to get to know the personalities in the band because, after all, that’s where the music comes from.

Coming soon we’ll have a new format. What better way, we thought, to get to know the band than by going right to their homes and cooking with them in their kitchens. Three Quarter Squash and Shenanigan Burritos with Shenanigan Sauce. What we’ve come up with is nothing short of pure gold. We’ve walked away with some beautiful footage and the bands have shared some funny stories. Have you ever poured hotsauce on a naked man? Have you ever lost a drummer in the middle of nowhere?

Stay tuned to Ohjusteatit.ca in April. We’ve been cooking with the bands and it’s been a lot of fun.

The attached video is DREAMERS right after we shot with them. They had such a good time, they made this video as soon as we left.

DREAMERS on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DreamersWTF

LYRIC DUBEE Amazes Room Full of Legendary R&B Musicians

I was scrolling through Facebook doing my research on bands gigging in Toronto. Somehow I came across a Youtube video of 13 year old Lyric Dubee playing guitar and singing. It was a poor quality video taken at an outdoor event. It was obvious the kid could play guitar, but I wasn’t too impressed. I was sipping my morning coffee, however, and relaxing, so I decided to check out two more of his videos. The final video was Lyric being interviewed by Glenn Coulson on Rogers Barrie (cable channel) and performing some of his original music. Lyric played and sang beautifully, but that wasn’t the impressive part. Lyric is still a boy and his voice has not matured. What impressed me was his personality. He was not intimidated at all. He had amazing stage presence. When he sang, he had range and feeling. When he played guitar it was with ease and soul.

I posted the Rogers video on Facebook with a little paragraph about my impression of Lyric. I received a comment back from veteran Toronto musician/producer Virgil Scott who said he was going to contact Lyric’s parents and request that the boy perform at his upcoming annual “Happy New Year to Musicians Party”. I was thrilled to have brought the two together!

The video here was taken the night of the annual private event hosted by Virgil at Hollywood on the Queensway. The room was full of elite R&B musicians. When Lyric finished performing his two songs the room exploded with applause. People were excited by him. I was so happy that he had this exposure. People will be talking about Lyric Dubee, not because he’s a kid who can sing and play guitar, but because he’s a musician.

Lyric released his first CD last April. You can get a copy at his website http://www.lyricsmuzic.com/. Lyric will perform at the Wiarton Willie Festival Saturday (Feb 4). He’s performing on the main stage at 2pm. He will be performing songs from his blues album and some unreleased material. If you’re lucky enough to be there, you can also catch Walk Off The Earth and David Usher in the evening. If Lyric performs again in Toronto, I’ll be sure to let you know!


I spend a lot of time on Facebook doing my research on Toronto bands. I’ve connected to hundreds of fan pages and friended loads of musicians. I watch the news feed with interest. Anyone who says Facebook is boring just doesn’t know what they’re doing.

One of my Facebook “friends” is Eli Eisenberg. Eli is a great Toronto bass player. He gigs regularly and I encourage him to let me know what he’s up to. I received a message from Eli recently inviting me to come check him out at a gig he was doing with George Olliver. I had never heard of George Olliver and I didn’t really know what sort of music we were in for, but I wanted to see Eli perform, so Aaron and I grabbed our gear and headed out for the night.

The show was at The McNeil Room at Whistlers, located at Broadview and Mortimer. It’s a classy sort of joint compared to the places I usually hang out. The show was upstairs in a banquet hall type room. The stage was large and tables were set with table clothes. There was a full dinner menu available as well as the bar. The crowd was older. Over 50. I wondered what sort of night we were in for.

When the music started I was relieved. It was fantastic. I love a band that is tight and up-beat and has a front man with a personality who knows how to work the room. The energy was fabulous. Although I love watching green kids in bands they’ve just started, who have loads of potential, some of them are still a little hard to listen to. I was soooo in the mood for some seasoned professionals.


It turns out, George Olliver is a legend in Toronto. George co-owned and performed at the legendary Club Blue Note in Toronto from 1982-92. The Blue Note was one of the Toronto venues in the 60’s that helped coin the term “Toronto Sound”. Toronto Sound is the characteristic R&B sound from the years 1959–69 which was a major progenitor of American Rock in the 1970s.

There’s a lot of Toronto history with Mr. George Olliver. George was recently featured (March 2011) in the award winning BRAVO documentary “YONGE ST. TORONTO ROCK N’ ROLL STORIES“.

George’s career shot to stardom as the lead singer of the now legendary R&B band Mandala, with top ten hits “Opportunity” and “Give and Take”.

George released a solo album called “Dream Girl”, which was nominated for a Juno award in the category Best R&B Recording in 1987. George has won the award Album of the Year for Durham Region and a MAJA Award for Song of the Year from his CD “Look Up”.



Steven Ambrose often performs with George Olliver. Steven is known for fronting the band called the Linolns which featured Prakash John (Lou Reed and Alice Cooper) on bass.

His latest CD, “Love is Breaking Out”, was initiated by John Long of Long & McQuade. Seven songs are written by Steven and three are co-writes. Steven worked with Toronto’s Terry Brown (Rush, Max Webster, Allannah Myles, Blue Rodeo, etc.) on the production.


DEREK MILLER To Headline Benefit Concert To Support Attawapiskat

$25/DOOR $20 ADVANCE 19+
There will also be a benefit show in Ottawa on January 24th
at Ritual Nightclub with details to follow.
Derek Miller: www.derekmiller.ca

Attawapiskat First Nation is an isolated First Nation community located in northern Ontario, at the mouth of the Attawapiskat River at James Bay, and is home to the Mushkego or Omushkego James Bay Cree. Attawapiskat has received international media attention since the community declared a state of emergency in the fall over their lack of safe and adequate housing. The media attention caused the Canadian government to finally spring into action and address the housing after years of the community coming forward and appealing for help. The living conditions on this First Nation reserve, and those of many others across the country, have been described as third world.

The people who understand best the issues faced by Native Canadians, are Native Canadians. People living outside of these isolated communities can’t begin to comprehend the problems being faced there. Fortunately, there is a huge pool of musical talent within the Canadian aboriginal community. A group of very talented people have come together to raise support and awareness for Attawapiskat.

106.5 FM The Voices Toronto, Gunner Recording and Iguana Recording have organized a benefit event headlining two-time June Award winner Derek Miller. The event will take place Thursday, January 19 at The Revival Bar 783 College Street, Toronto. Proceeds are to go to TRUE NORTH AID to raise money for Attawapiskat winter relief.

Derek Miller is living near Toronto and often performs in Toronto. You can see a picture of me with him at the top of the page. The rest of the lineup includes Ontario musicians Jace Martin (Six Nations, ON), The Clearing (Toronto), Phantom Black (Toronto), Pappy Johns Band (Six Nations, ON), and Arthur Renwick (Toronto).

I’ll be there on the 19th.


Today Facebook and Twitter are all a-buzz regarding the passing of the beloved drummer of Sudbury band Sanctuaries‘ Cole Howard. Howard was the passenger of a car that crashed on a Northern Ontario highway January 3rd. So sad for someone so young to lose his life. OhJustEatIt.ca would like to join in sending condolences to the Sanctuaries band members Austin Buott, Bombs, Tylor Yorke and the Howard family.

Kai Kinos of Electric Feel is a freelance graphic designer in Ottawa. He posted on Facebook that he’s creating a 12″ design with all of the songs Cole’s band Sanctuaries has recorded so far. All money raised will go towards the Howard family. Electric Feel will be taking pre-orders so they can raise enough money to have them printed. We’ll let you know when we hear of the availability on this project.


Well folks, 2011 is coming to a close and i decided to write a blog entry. I don’t usually like to write. I’m pretty critical of my writing skills…actually other people are critical of my writing skills…so i’m shy about it. I decided however, that i need to just barf it on the page and be done with it. So here’s my thoughts.

I started this blog at the beginning of the summer to share my experiences with exploring the indie music scene in Toronto. I call myself the cheerleader…promoting bands without being a real paid promoter. I cover any Southern Ontario band/musician who gets a gig in a Toronto venue or music event. I will even cover a busker if it’s cool enough. It just needs to be in a Toronto setting. I take still shots and post them on Flickr. I’m not very good…but once in a while i grab the money shot and gawd that feels good! Sometimes I take some video. I need to do more of that. The original intention for the site was for it to be a vlog.

The blog has been hacked a couple of times (dammit!) and rather than restoring the same site, i’ve decided to take the opportunity to change it each time. I like what i have up now. My friend Jason Bunston of Elite Conceptual Consulting took a look at the blog and made it a little more secure for me this time around. Jason’s a genius with WordPress. His team customized the websites for Toronto artist Joel Richardson (recently in the news because the city paid him to paint a mural and then they erased it) and Toronto entertainment personality Rosey Edeh (ET Canada).

The objective moving forward will be to let you meet the bands i’m meeting. I’m going to try to find fun and interesting ways to introduce them to you. I’m also finding people who are doing cool things like operating recording studios, making custom drum kits, designing album covers, etc. I’d like to share information on those people too. While i’m at it, i’m hoping you’ll get to know me.

I don’t get paid for this stuff, so sometimes there’s a lag in the time between posts. My new year’s resolution is to be more consistent with the timing of the content. You can help me keep up with the calendar by letting me know about the gigs your band or your favourite band has booked in the city.

Tonight, I will be at The Bovine Sex Club to bring in the New Year with Die Mannequin and Dearly Beloved.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!
(cue the music)