Indie Connectors: Success Breeds Success

 Andrea Morris, Doug Elliott, Stephane Girard,Yvonne Valnea

As she established Last Tango Productions as a major Toronto-based music publicity/promotions company which has operated for the past 20 years, Yvonne Valnea has continually served on numerous industry panels at events like Canadian Music Week, Country Music Week, NXNE etc where she has advised up-and-coming musicians on the pitfalls of breaking ground in the music industry.

The inevitable fall-out from these sessions is musicians swamping her with questions a simple panel discussion couldn’t possibly have time to deal with. “Every year, every panel, every conference, the end result is the same. Musicians coming to me asking the same questions again and again,” explained Valnea over the phone prior to the launch of her Indie Connectors initiative which was launched at a splashy reception at the Sheraton Hotel, Quinn’s pub, during Canadian Music Week.

“Over the years, there has been a lot of information out there but not a lot of cohesive information and many of these artists were receiving bad advice so I decided to do something about it,” she added. “I contacted Andrea Morris, head of AM to FM Promotions and discovered she had similar ideas and similar frustrations so we decided to pool our resources and create Indie Connectors.

At a time in Canada where only three major record companies (Warner Music Canada, Universal Music and Sony Music) currently exist, where label A&R, retail sales and radio tracking are virtually none existent, the majority of artists now find they have to tackle these functions themselves. Some embrace this challenge and are quite efficient at functioning as their own marketing and distribution entity. Yet many others get totally bogged down and lack the financial resources and knowledge to operate independently.

“We call it the D.I.Y syndrome (Do It Yourself) but it isn’t entirely necessary to do it yourself,” allows Valnea. “The trick is knowing what you need do and who should be on your team. Indie Connectors can help these artists find the right personnel for their team.”

Yvonne Valnea and Gene Simmons
Yvonne Valnea and Gene Simmons

Describing Indie Connectors as a portal for all things indie, Valnea and Morris advise artists in five main areas:  1) Go To Radio. 2) International Distribution, 3) Get your CD and news out to media. 4) Power of advertising and 5) Need help getting started.

“When people come to me, they’ve had so much different advice they can’t put a game plan together,”Valnea conceded. “ Over the years, I have compiled a list in my head saying what would I do, where would I send an artist to learn everything  that they needed to know before they get to me. There really isn’t a place , so if we can create one place where they can read over everything, ask questions, learn the basics, so when they go to a record producer they know which questions to ask, then we are serving a purpose.

Of the five areas, Indie Connectors  operate in, Valnea feels access to radio is probably the most misunderstood area. “There’s a misconception that radio doesn’t want to promote new music, but that’s not entirely true,” she allowed. “There’s a lot more new music being played on the radio that most artists are aware of. It has been my experience that a lot of music directors are interested in promoting new music and it’s been music directors that have responded strongest to the concept of Indie Connectors. You just need to know how to approach them with your track and how to keep the ball rolling until it snowballs into something big.”

To this end, music directors have provided advice in the forms of editorials that are posted on the Indie Connectors website and they are even offering to mentor bands on how to place music on to station play lists.

For artists who have recorded a potential hit recording, Indie Connectors are placed to help facilitate international digital distribution and they also tutor on how artists can get their CD out to major record companies and media outlets. “We have compiled a list of all the major music journalists and bloggers and media outlets to ensure any new release at least reaches the right contacts.

Valnea also preaches the importance of artists creating a viable website that is not only attractive and informative to their fans but also captures the attention of the music industry. “A well presented website that contains information on the artist/band, their music, videos and any pertinent press clippings will impress music industry personnel who check them out and will indicate how professional the artist actually is.”

To this end, Indie Connectors will suggest people who can create an informative website or music journalists who can supply an informative artist biography.

“We have a referral system for all these activities because we want to put our artists in contact with the right people who can help them.” informed Valnea. “We want to make sure our artists receive the best service and that they don’t get over-charged. If we receive any complaints about anyone we use as a referral, those people could be dropped from our list.”

Andrea Morris, Doug Elliot, Yvonne Valnea
Andrea Morris, Poncho Parker, Yvonne Valnea

With a website that posts editorial submissions from various professions in media, radio stations and other industry personnel, those submissions serve as a constant reference for any artist seeking advise. “It shows just how much support we have received from the music industry and acts as a constant reference to prevent artists from asking the same questions over again. All the information they require is right there.” noted Valnea.

For someone who started her music career working for Bruce Bradley’s Summersault Records label( now president of Slammin Media and the official social media sponsor for Indie Connectors) and quickly learned to be hands on at all functions related to that label, Valnea is ecstatic about the industry’s initial response to Andrea Morris and her initiative. “The turnout at our Indie Connectors party was amazing. We had some people stay for the entire three hours and the general response seems to have been, “It’s about time!, why hasn’t this been done before”.

Operating under the slogan, “We can’t be successful if they are not successful”, Valnea and Morris feel their combined knowledge will be a major force in catering to independent artists. “It’s not just advice, it’s not just obtaining important articles from the right media and industry contacts, it’s about providing a full professional service.”

“Careers are finite, there is only a short window to achieve success. An artist can’t afford to make too many mistakes and get led down the wrong path,”concluded Valnea. “They need to be aware of timing, when to put out records, when to apply for concert festivals, when to apply for College gigs. Get the timing wrong and you have to push everything to the next year and not a lot of bands can stay together under those circumstances”.

For further information on Indie Connectors, please contact Yvonne or Andrea at phone (416) 461-6745.

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