Manitoba musicians, industry reps heading to Hollywood

Hey Universal Studios — how about some Begonia or Field Guide for your next movie soundtrack?

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Hey Universal Studios — how about some Begonia or Field Guide for your next movie soundtrack?

Conversations between Manitoba music industry delegates and top Los Angeles production companies might be worded differently. Still, syntax aside, it’s a question to be asked next week.

Six Manitoban musicians, along with representatives from the province’s music industry, are heading to Hollywood to promote themselves and build connections.

                                <p>Sean McManus, Executive Director of Manitoba Music.</p>


Sean McManus, Executive Director of Manitoba Music.

“There’s so many artists having a moment in Winnipeg right now,” said Stu Anderson, CEO of Birthday Cake Media.

He’ll board a direct flight to Los Angeles Monday, alongside Begonia and Field Guide, two artists he manages.

The following days will be packed with meetings and performances.

“We typically get a lot out of these kinds of things,” Anderson said. “It’s important for us to physically be in these places and get face time with different… industry people.”

They’re busy: Begonia is dropping an album next month and touring, with a launch event in Toronto. Field Guide is set to tour Canada and the United States this spring.

Even so, they have time to sing in Gold-Diggers, a Santa Monica Boulevard joint that highlights upcoming artists, on Tuesday. Manitoba-based group ASH HALO will join them.

“What we’re doing is trying to make sure that there’s as many industry folks in the room,” said Sean McManus, Manitoba Music’s executive director.

“What we’re doing is trying to make sure that there’s as many industry folks in the room.” –Sean McManus, Manitoba Music executive director

Queue the marketing suits, record labels and talent promoters. Manitoba Film and Music has contacted Universal Studios, NBC and Columbia Records about the prairie crew’s upcoming trip.

Any time you get a chance to go in front of these folks… and tell them about great offerings we have here, it leads to more business,” said Rod Bruinooge, head of Manitoba Film and Music.

                                <p>Dylan MacDonald of Field Guide.</p>


Dylan MacDonald of Field Guide.

The province’s film industry is already reaping rewards from its Los Angeles meetings last October and November, Bruinooge said. A delegation took the first direct flight from Winnipeg to the City of Angels on Halloween.

Some “really big productions” are starting to film in Manitoba this month, including one from New Regency, Bruinooge said. He declined to give further details.

“It’s going to have a great impact on our first quarter,” he said.

Now it’s the music industry’s turn, he added.

Manitoba Music, a non-profit which represents more than 700 members, has flown artists and industry members to Los Angeles before.

Last time — February of 2020 — was “the best one I had ever been to,” Anderson of Birthday Cake Media said.

“They had a stacked list of L.A. industry (executives),” he added.

This three-day trip is largely focused on connecting musicians, and their songs, with TV and film productions.

“That kind of stuff doesn’t happen immediately,” McManus said. “It’s a case of those supervisors knowing they have this music on file for when the right project comes up.”

And, for the first time, three Manitoban musicians are joining the delegation to co-write songs with Los Angeles-based writers.

<p>Buio Assis / BNB STUDIOS</p>
                                <p>Grant Davidson from Slow Leaves.</p>

Buio Assis / BNB STUDIOS

Grant Davidson from Slow Leaves.

Grant Davidson from Slow Leaves, Jeremy Haywood-Smith (or JayWood) and Cassidy Mann are ready to write.

Davidson has selected his nylon string La Patrie guitar for the voyage.

“It’s a great guitar to kind of sit around, pick on, flesh out ideas,” he said.

Monday will be his first day ever in Los Angeles. He doesn’t know who he’ll be writing with — likely someone with Terrorbird, which does music licensing, publishing and publicity — nor does he know the genre.

“I’m excited,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen.”

The trip is about more than a song, he noted. The connections are like gold to someone wanting to increase the number of songs they write for others.

“It’s incredible to be meeting with folks in person again,” said McManus. “It’s a great time to be… artists and connecting with the industry. There’s a really strong desire, post-pandemic, from all sides for people to be connecting in-person.”

Anderson plans on staying in Los Angeles until Saturday, while most of the delegation flies home mid-week. He has contacts to shake hands with for the first time — industry folks he’d met after COVID-19’s onset.

“That personal connection can really just change everything,” he said. “(It) makes it more enticing to choose to work with us on different projects.”

It’s now easier for Manitoban musicians to travel to Los Angeles. WestJet’s direct flight, which began last Halloween, shortens the otherwise day-long trek south.




Manitoba Music plans to bring musicians and industry leads on trips like next week’s annually, McManus said.

Such voyages may become more common than once a year because of the direct flight, he added.

“We have such a beautiful music community and so much happening in Winnipeg,” said Dylan MacDonald of Field Guide. “We (can be) super isolated. It’s just really rad that these trips are available to artists in the city.”

Manitoba’s music scene contributes more than $93 million annually to the province’s GDP and encompasses more than 4,000 jobs, according to McManus.

“Something like (this trip) can be really amazing,” MacDonald said, adding he doesn’t enter these situations with big expectations.

Still, he’d feel “really good” if a Field Guide song landed in a Netflix series.

Gabrielle Piché

Gabrielle Piché

Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.

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