Local Edmonton, Canada Music Scene
Edmonton is located three hours north of Calgary and offers a mix of rural and urban sounds. The city is home to many campgrounds and wilderness areas as well as being one of the biggest cities in Canada. It's known as "The Festival City" because it hosts a wide variety of festivals throughout the year. Some of the top local artists include k.d. lang, pop act Something Like Kites, singer-songwriter Phil Jacobs, gospel singer Harold Paddle, hip hop artist 709-MelteDMuzik and alternative band Candelora. The area also fosters country acts such as MJ LaFlair and Derrick Zuber.
One of the most well known venues in Edmondton is the Francis Winspear Centre for Music, where the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra performs. Other notable venues include Accent European Lounge, Apex Casino-Vee Lounge, Century Casino Edmonton, Early Stage Saloon, Jubilee Auditorium, The Lion's Head and River Cree Casino. One of the best websites for learning about Edmonton local artists and venues is BarsNBands.net.
Public and college radio is much more open to local music than commercial radio because they don't live and die by ratings and advertising dollars. Non-commercial stations are usually funded by the listening community through on-air fundraising and memberships, as well as philanthropists. So they don't have to listen to record labels talk about their marketing priorities. Usually public and college stations do not play songs in a repetitive enough rotation for labels to take them seriously, except when it comes to launching new artists.
Exposure has proven to be the key to music sales. Commercial radio in Edmonton is still the biggest catalyst for potential sales, even in the internet age. Yet, it's possible for public radio stations to help local indie artists in a different way. The artist can have his or her own volunteer show on the station or develop a relationship with a DJ and get consistent airplay. With local artists it's more about the artist name than song titles or album titles that builds familiarity. One of the key public radio stations for local artists to gain airplay is CKUA Radio, which serves the province of Alberta.
An Edmonton act can now be a star beyond their region just by sitting at a computer and clicking on names. It's still a numbers game in the sense that only a certain percentage of people who respond will convert to buyers. It's still a hard sell to get people to buy a 99 cent download of a song they've never heard before or even just once. The artist is still more likely to make money selling CDs at shows, but sites like iTunes at least make it possible for instant transactions to occur.
These perspectives on regional music have paid off for some Edmonton artists, especially winners of the 2013 Edmonton Music Awards. Winners included Wool On Wolves, Jay Sparrow, Mitchmatic, Owls By Nature, Nuela Charles and Corb Lund. The previous year's winners included Tupelo Honey, Zerbin, Ten Second Epic, Colleen Brown and Scott Cook. It's Edmonton's version of the national Juno Awards. The 2013 ceremony was held at the Royal Alberta Museum Theatre, making it an important part of Edmonton music history.