If you can’t take constructive criticism and advice, you’ll go nowhere fast and won’t be able to grow as a musician.
That’s one of the key messages that has stayed with Windsor Park Collegiate student Morgan O’Leary, who was one of 14 Manitoba youth that recently took part in a three-month mentorship program organized and funded by ACI Manitoba and programmed and run by Manitoba Music.
The program is targeted at youth interested in careers in the music industry, and gives participants the chance to expand their knowledge of the industry and develop their own music business skills.
Starting in February, the students took part in a series of regular mentor sessions facilitated by local industry professionals which covered different aspects of the business, ranging from recording and releasing records to marketing and publicity.
The list of mentors included recording artist and producer Greg MacPherson (Disintegration Records), producer and engineer John Paul Peters (Private Ear Recording) and music writer and pop culture columnist Jen Zoratti (Spinner, Spectator Tribune).
The program also included a marketing project, where the students got to co-ordinate and promote a digital compilation of tracks by young independent Manitoba artists called Flood at the Trading Post, which included establishing Twitter and Facebook accounts of the same name.
The 15-track collection — which features artists such as Take Me To The Pilot, Dane Bjornson and Salinas — was officially released at the Park Theatre on May 14 and featured performances by Left of Centre, The Minority and Almost Birds, who also all appear on the recording.
O’Leary, 16, a singer/songwriter and guitarist, said working on the project was an invaluable and inspirational experience.
"I was part of the creative group, so we had to listen to a substantial amount of tracks, select some, decide what order to put them in and then email the bands. We dealt with everything and really learned how to communicate with these musicians. And when the mentors came in, it was really inspirational," O’Leary said.
"And when we went to the recording studios, we learned about the physics of music and sound and things like what makes a note sustain. It was interesting to talk to the audio engineers and it was definitely one of the highlights. And it was great to get professional feedback, which was open-minded and genuine."
Nelson McIntyre Collegiate student Ben Neudorf, 17, learned valuable skills and made networking contacts.
"I was part of the marketing team, which included creating social networking sites and writing bios to send to marketing companies. On the Facebook and Twitter pages, the key was to keep people coming back, so we posted three artists at a time. We also communicated with graphic design companies for the posters, flyers and album art," Neudorf said, noting he has been working on an EP at home after since buying an interface and microphones.
Project facilitator Derek Kun said youth aged between 15 and 19 with an interest in the music industry can apply for the mentorship program.
"I would love to have had this kind of information available when I was younger," said Kun, who lives in Osborne Village.
Talia Pura is the mentorship program co-ordinator for ACI Manitoba. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.creativemanitoba.ca/youth/mentorship-16-19-years
To listen to compilation, visit http://floodatthetradingpost.bandcamp.com/