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This Is What A Live Music Performance Contract Looks Like

When a musician wants to follow best practices when arranging a live performance and wants to do things the right way and cover all the bases (ie. have recourse when problems or disputes arise), this is the contract that they will use according to the Canadian Federation of Musicians.

For more information about contracts, pensions, insurance and other benefits that are available to members of the musicians union, contact

Hamilton Musicians’ Guild, Local 293, AFM/CFM

20 Hughson Street South, Suite 401
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8N 2A1
Phone: 905-525-4040
Fax: 905-525-4047


Study Shows Musicians Have Superior Memory Skills

[December 1, 2017] A study led by University of Padua psychologist Francesca Talamini shows that musicians tend to have stronger short-term and working memory (the ability to retain information as you process it) than nonmusicians. Published in the online journal PLoS One, the research also found a slight advantage in terms of long-term memory.

Scientists looked at 29 studies (between 1987 and 2016) of young adults performing long-term, short-term, and working memory tasks. The musicians performed best on working memory tasks involving tonal stimuli, but also had an advantage regarding verbal stimuli. On short-term memory tasks, the musicians showed superior skills, whether they were asked to recall musical tones, verbal instructions, or visual images. Researchers offer a few hypotheses including the possibility that people with better memories choose to become musicians. But, they believe it is more likely that their memories were improved because of the multi-sensorial nature of music training.

From International Musician

Vector music created by Freepik

Jazz Vespers At The Music Hall – A Reflective Gathering For Jazz Listeners

The Music Hall at New Vision United Church
Various Dates

The acoustic setting of the soaring church space at Hamilton’s Music Hall will be an important highlight of the experience of Jazz Vespers first gathering on December 10, 2017. The intent of using the “acoustically pure” meeting space is to experience the musicians’ vibe the way the musicians really mean it. Jazz pianist Adrean Farrugia observes, “I’ve found some of my best playing experiences have been in these events. People can close their eyes and listen to and feel the vibration and have the experience as intended.”

Jazz began in the resistance of African American slaves to white church culture. The slaves took the harmonic and rhythmic structures of white church music, and made it speak in an African way. Saxophonist John Coltrane is a transcendent example of the evolution of this resistance: ““My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being. When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups. I want to speak to their souls.”

Farrugia, who is playing the Jazz Vespers in The Music Hall at New Vision United Church on Sunday December 10 at 4:30 pm, returned to his hometown of Hamilton after starting his career in Toronto. Though most of his career is still in the GTA, he’s noticing that a topic of conversation among musicians in Toronto is the stuff that is going on here. New Vision United Church’s decision to offer its space as a mid-sized concert venue is just another step in what is happening locally.

Farrugia is joined on Dec 10 at The Music Hall by fellow JUNO award winner vocalist Sophia Perlman, with Darcy Hepner on saxophone and Clark Johnston on acoustic bass, and New Vision’s Rev Ian Sloan. The gathering is pay what you are able for the musicians, and a collection for a simple meal so everyone can remain in the space afterward for something to eat regardless of their ability to pay.

Hamilton Music Industry Working Committee Forges Ahead In 2017

Hamilton is a city of music.

When all things are considered, a major aspect of Hamilton is its vital music scene, to the point of it being its own economic and cultural driver, to which extra attention and civic pride should be directed.

By the same token, do you think Halifax is a music city? Or London, Ontario? How about Kitchener? Ottawa?

All of these Ontario municipalities have recently made such claims.

Is becoming a “music city” just a simple matter naming and claiming it, like some kind of magic pill? What does it mean to call yourself a “City of Music”? What substance does it describe?

Pessimists may be quick to criticize Halifax or any other city for merely jumping on the bandwagon, and trying to accomplish an optical or perceived change but with no real substance. Where is all of this “music city” branding coming from? Is somebody making it up?

Let me bring you up to date.

Back to 2015

In 2015 an extensive nation-wide research project funded by the IFPA (international recording industry) and Music Canada (major record labels) produced a 2015 report titled “The Mastering of a Music City.” In that report the case was made that music business is a major component of commerce, and that if attention was given to supporting music as a specific economic/cultural sector, cities could see it grow.

Of course, every musician already knew this, and so did every music-related business. However, the study accomplished a sense of unity and put hard facts on the table, setting the stage for a public, nation-wide movement that would capture the attention of politicians and business leaders. Provincial music organizations each developed their own strategy to follow up on the Music Canada study. In Ontario we got the Ontario Live Music Strategy, and the Ontario Live Music Fund.

A number of Ontario cities have undertaken to latch on to the “music city” identity, in order to get some of the money for special “music tourism” projects, Hamilton being one of them.

The Halifax initiative, led by a city councillor, will be “industry-led”. Here’s the link:

The Hamilton Music Strategy

Based on my experience since 2014 with our Hamilton Music Strategy Implementation Team (now renamed as The Music Industry Working Committee or MIWC) there are two big questions that need to be answered by any city that seeks to build up its music sector:

To what degree is the music industry an economic engine and driver of business and commerce VS. being a cultural/arts asset?

Should the music business be boosted by the economic development department of the city, or the tourism department, or both?

Each city in Canada has its own situation, history, bylaws, political culture, and management style. Each city must figure out its own model.

In Hamilton, we are finding our way. The Hamilton Music Industry Working Committee (MIWC) is an industry-led working group that is mandated with taking practical steps to promote music of all kinds in Hamilton. The members, myself included, are what you would describe as engaged citizens. We are volunteers committed to making some positive changes in our chosen industry of employment.

With Council approval, the MIWC has now expanded to 20 members.

Our mandate is to find ways to build audiences, make economic prospects better for musicians and performing groups and organizations, find ways to make things easier for local live music venues, to look for ways to build up music of all types, support music-related businesses, and develop a long-term view that promotes music education in order to nurture future audiences.

Basically, our job is to pay serious attention to the music industries in Hamilton, at all levels. Through brainstorming, discussion, and fact-finding, we attempt to arrive at a consensus about what can be done.

Every member of the Music Industry Working Committee is enthusiastic in one way or another about the value and the potential of music as an essential part of what it means to be a Hamiltonian. Each of us is directly involved in the music business as an ongoing major part of our daily lives.

We are learning how to work together as a team that widely represents the local music industry while at the same time having to follow the flow of appropriate municipal procedures.

Limited Resources. That’s Nothing New.

Each committee member can plainly see how much is lacking in various parts of the local music industry infrastructure. We’re learning more details all the time, and we want to continue doing that. But the flip-side is that we understand how much growth is possible. And we aim to be positive! We see some easy ways to make change (for example back in 2015 Hamilton hosted the JUNO Awards, which was akin to riding a tidal wave of civic involvement, organization, and support!), while also seeing other more difficult challenges (for example, updating noise bylaws or securing adequate funding for various initiatives). But at the end of the day, we sense a groundswell of belief that Hamilton can and should be one of the best places in Canada to be a musician, or to be in the music business.

We’re not there yet, but we are driving forward!

As a City committee, the MIWC is bound to do things in a way that is appropriately managed, reportable, fiscally responsible, and minimizes risk to city assets. This is an onerous challenge. We need to find creative ways to not get caught up or even stopped in our tracks just because we’re not proposing “customary” ways of doing things, or by being too cautious and therefore doing nothing at all because of potential liability or embarrassment, etc.

One way that we will achieve this is by communicating very well with our city councillors, city staffers, and the general public. Each of us is committed to forging good working relationships with members of the public, as well as our elected and paid officials. Your help is important. If you need to tell us something important, please do so. Our co-chairs are Madeline Wilson and Jeffrey Martin.

Here’s what Martin says as we look forward to the coming year:

We’re moving into our 2nd term as a committee and we’ll have several new members joining our team, so there will be a lot of new energy and ideas. I believe the Music Industry Working Group will better reflect all sectors of the Hamilton music community.

Among our priorities for 2017 is music education and the establishment of a music education committee that will reach out to instructors and educational institutions across the city. It’s one of the key pillars of the music strategy and critical to the growth of Hamilton’s music scene and music community. We’re also focused on a marketing strategy that will officially brand Hamilton as a “city of music” — leveraging our music heritage and embracing the eclectic music scene we have today. Our overriding goal is to pull the City’s music community together to be more collaborative, integrated and supported. And like the music strategy vision statement states, “celebrate all thing music.”

We daily embrace the fact that our music scene is incredibly diverse and has a rigorous life of its own. As audacious as it may seem to claim that our committee of a few people can possibly represent “all things music” in Hamilton we will forge ahead with your best interests at heart.

My commitment is to keep you, my readers, informed at each step of the way.

Music Supervisor Dondrea Erauw of Instinct Entertainment Talks About Song Syncs, The Role of a Music Supervisor, Tips for Artists, and MORE!

Real Talk with Dre Pao – Dondrea Erauw of Instinct Entertainment
Presented by: Greater Hamilton Musician

HAMILTON, ON — Instinct Entertainment is a music supervision, licensing, and creative consultation company that specializes in placing music in television, film, online, and more. Dondrea Erauw is a key component of the Instinct Entertainment team and plays a major role in placing music in some of Canada’s major television markets. Some of Dondrea’s recent work includes placing music for Degrassi, Private Eyes, and Beauty and the Beast (on Showcase).

“At the end of the day, it’s important for artists to stay true to their art…When artists are more genuine to what they want to write about, that tends to be what we end up licensing…because it’s natural, and it doesn’t feel forced.” — Dondrea Erauw

Dondrea grew up just outside of Hamilton, in Caledonia, and studied Music Industry Arts at Fanshawe College, after spending some time at University of Western Ontario. Although Dondrea is now well versed in music supervision, she spent an extensive amount of time studying music publishing and other various aspects of the music industry. Before landing her dream job with Instinct Entertainment, Dondrea spent time working in music publishing and with record labels. Although being well educated on how the industry functions is essential, Dondrea was adamant about the importance of networking, standing out, and hustling.

For those who may be unfamiliar music supervision — a music supervisor is responsible for working with directors, composers, and show-runners in order to help select music for specific projects. Supervision roles can range based on if the project is in collaboration with television, advertising, film, or online. The job may include (but is not limited to) selecting a feature song in an episode, choosing background music, or deciding which song someone should sing in a scene.

When selecting music, Dondrea notes that it is imperative that a song’s feeling, vibe, and lyrical content be high quality in order to be considered for a song sync. When approaching a music supervisor, it is also important to know the show that you are pitching (don’t pitch heavy metal to a show that only plays piano ballads)! With regards to Degrassi, Dondrea works with a lot of indie and pop music that is “emotionally heart-touching”. Although the Canadian music supervisor often works with licensing companies and songwriters that have proved to be reliable, she also sometimes searches online for music and artists to work with. **Remember to keep your online presence professional, user-friendly, and up-to-date!**

Dondrea offered some advice to songwriters looking to write for film or television by reminding artists to remember to stay true to themselves. She states that “It’s easy to tell when a song is not genuine”. Although she says it is “hard to tell artists how to think”, she suggests that if you are looking to specifically ‘write for sync’ that you try to be broad and general in order to maximize the audience that your song can relate to. Staying away from specific names of people or places in your lyrics will likely increase the chances of your song fitting what a music supervisor is looking for. Although there is an abundance of music to choose from, Dondrea says that “if it’s really good, the right people are going to find it!”


For more information on Dondrea Erauw and Instinct Entertainment, please visit

Return for Refund at Doors

By Devlin Flynn

While some people opted to stay home with the family to prepare for the parties to come in the name of Jesus (yes, even some frequenters of Doors Pub), a few decided to hit up one of the last-standing DIY venues in the GTHA.

Return for Refund photo by Devlin Flynn

Doors pub offers something truly remarkable in many ways. From a performer’s perspective, it is quite rare to find a venue in-which the schedule is fully dependent on whenever the hosting band feels like starting the show. This can act as a force as positivity, for it is a refreshingly laid-back environment to play and watch music in. On the other end shows can go far too late (even later than most of the show times that venues are currently under scrutiny for in the GTA). Doors pub also offers audience members the agency to order great bar food late in the evening, as well as a place away from the devastatingly loud live music. Regardless if you are in the concert room upstairs or the bar downstairs, your remarkable experience is destined to be a very loud one. It is a metal bar after all.

To set-off the evening was The Jesse James Medicine Show. Before the music even starts it is clear that the rock duo have a “thing”. Their stage set-up screams the words “Low-fi”, as the drum kit is composed of a kick drum, a hi-hat, and a snare on it’s side with a kick pedal attached. The looming premonition of the rock n’ roll to come grows evermore as the drummer (that’s James) sits at the kit accompanied by a bass guitar. The two of them howl into microphones while playing their respective roles: the drummer playing quarter notes with his feet and walking a bass line with his fingers, the guitarist (that’s Jesse) destroying the strings on his instrument. Despite the style of music not being quite in my field of preference, and their “thing” becoming a little old for me, it was so refreshing to see two people just going for it, no matter how few people were watching. If you want to feel like you are in a roller-skating ring in the 80s and have a good time while watching two dudes have a blast, then these guys are definitely for you.

Second in the eve was Los Angelos. A local quartet led by keyboardist, Nick Hirst, they really got it all: Three-part harmonies, raging blues keyboard solos, foot-stomping etc. The venue was most full for these cats, and rightfully so. They were the definite highlight of the evening. With driving grooves, accessible blues progressions, and one Irish folk tune in 7/8, Los Angelos provided some easily ridden music. Despite some mud in the guitar tone (beyond what is required in a blues band), I would recommend these cats to anyone looking to stomp along to something, also to anyone who may be looking to get married with some wild tunes in the background. Seriously, hire these guys.

Next were the headliners and hosts of the show, Return for Refund. Having recently just released their new EP “Lift You Up”, Doors Pub was one of the final stops of their Canadian tour. Unfortunately, most of the audience left after Los Angelos (one of the many problems of late-starting shows). Despite this, and despite some technical difficulties through-out the set, the boys of Return For Refund gave it all to the few who people who were watching. Imagine Led Zeppelin but in the place of Robert plant is Cedric from The Mars Volta and you are painting the basic sketch of the vibes these guys put across.

The first half of RFR’s set blew me away. Unfortunately, there was a midpoint in the set when I started to get irritated with the music, but that may have something to do with it being nearly 1 AM. I had to leave before the end of their set so I could get home. Something I am taking away from this is that the current discussion of show start times and the relevance of such to the success of venues and performers needs to manifest in some form of action! Don’t just talk about it. Especially if you have a venue like Doors Pub where you, the performers, actually run the show. Take advantage of that and give your audience the agency to watch live music and get home at a decent time on a Thursday evening. Give yourself the respect of putting on a well-organized show that people can actually attend. Thursday’s show was a decent one. A few minor changes could’ve made all the difference. I am still glad I was able to expose myself to some authentic-as-(insert) rock music the eve of one hell of a good friday.

Devlin Flynn was being raised in Peterborough, Ontario when he underwent the terrifying and worrisome transformation of puberty and emotional development. A multi-instrumentalist, he was a part of many bands and projects while living at home. He is currently studying contemporary music at Mohawk College.

Weighing In On Live Music On Outdoor Commercial Patios

KOI restaurant on Hess (Tourism Hamilton photo)

Music on outdoor patios is a wonderful thing. If you’re the owner of a licensed establishment, adding tasteful and appropriate music on your outdoor patio is the perfect way to create a relaxing, pleasant, and fun environment in that special outdoor place.

The City of Hamilton is about to implement a 24 month pilot project that will give musicians a great new opportunity: performing on an outdoor commercial patio.

For the first time ever, thoughtful establishments can expand their delivery of great entertainment onto the fresh air patio environment. Those summer nights can now beckon Hamiltonians and their visiting family and friends to go out and enjoy some fine food and entertainment under the warm summer skies!

Gary Yokoyama, Hamilton Spectator

By definition, the City says an outdoor commercial patio is “any outdoor area used in conjunction with any establishment licensed under the Liquor License Act, where meals or refreshments are served to the public for consumption on the premises.”

Outdoor Commercial Patios do not include:

  • Café with several tables and chairs in the front or back yard
  • Patios associated with Restaurants that do not have a liquor license

The pilot project will amend the Zoning Bylaws and Noise Bylaws with the effect of permitting entertainment on outdoor commercial patios. It is expected that the pilot project will result in Pro-active and re-active enforcement initiatives with regard to achieving compatibility amongst adjacent commercial / residential land uses. In this pilot program there “must be an emphasis toward educating and negotiating compliance to provide a balanced approach before commencing any legal action”.

My Own (Moderate) View

When I think about outdoor entertainment I’m limiting my own views to encompass a particular type of venue: a venue in a dense area commercial area that is adjacent to a residential neighbourhood. (The rural addresses –mostly golf course clubhouses – in this study are less affected by the proximity of surrounding residential areas. And yet, the conditions of the license will still apply to them.)

While the by-law amendment allows for dance facilities, which implies a robust sound amplification setup, I’m not about to push for a full stage setup with speakers including subs to amplify a five-piece band. I’m also hesitant to support a deejay setup in the outdoors which, in my opinion, implies an amplification of booming rhythmic bass lines and drums. Low frequency sounds carry a long ways and are more difficult to mitigate with sound barriers. It might work in a rural setting where the neighbours are a quarter mile away, but how could one make a reasonable case for sub-woofers and disco balls outdoors when people may be living just a few dozen yards away? I don’t visualize outdoor dance areas at all. Others may have a different view and that’s fine with me.

In my moderate view I’m envisioning a solo, duo or trio act, with an acoustic vibe, minimal PA system that functions as “light entertainment” or “background music/entertainment”.

A moderate view is essential considering that before this special pilot project came into consideration, there was NO entertainment allowed on outdoor patios in Hamilton. What sort of outdoor entertainment makes sense? What new experiences are Hamilton business owners willing to “dump into the laps” of their residential neighbours? We can’t for a second think that this pilot project allows “carte blanche” to a venue to do anything they want. On the contrary, we need to think of win-win scenarios.

I’m Proud Of Hamilton For Taking This On

The very fact that our City has undertaken this 24 month pilot project makes me proud.

It means that our city staff aren’t just responding to gut level feelings about what should happen with musical entertainment and other late-night, urban activities. They want real data, and they want to present real information to our council about what works and what doesn’t.

Hamilton is not a small town. Hamilton is not a suburb. Hamilton is pursuing its vision of being a progressive, vibrant cultural centre that enables rich expressions of the arts, including music, and rich expressions of night life. (It is also the best place to raise a child, to which I can attest three times over!)

At a time when municipalities across Canada (Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton, London, Calgary, Vancouver) are jumping up and claiming to be music cities, I’m proud to know that Hamilton has set up this pilot project to allow us to see what actually happens.

In the pilot project, participating businesses will pay a license fee of $300, and will have to conform to the amended Noise Bylaw which has specific requirements. Bylaw enforcement will continue to be managed by bylaw officers. Important data will be gathered and will inform decisions about whether or not the program is realistic, enforceable and worth continuing.


If we don’t allow venues to have the opportunity to test the market and work out the details of how to appropriately, and respectfully, put amplified entertainment in their outdoor spaces, we will never have reliable data on what works and what doesn’t. We would never be able to stand tall as a “City of Music” and move forward with confidence in our bylaws and business regulations.


Bravo to the City of Hamilton for taking on this issue. By the end of this 24 month pilot project, Hamilton will be the expert on entertainment on outdoor commercial patios!

This will be a major learning opportunity and a significant milestone in our journey to becoming a leading city in the Canadian and international music industry.

My Delegation To Planning Committee

This coming Tuesday, April 18, I will be presenting a delegate’s report to the City Planning Committee in relation to the proposed pilot project.

Here’s my issue:

60db sound levels would be impossibly low to maintain for almost all downtown sites, simply due to the normal existence of typical background sounds in the urban core.

A passing car generates 65db of sound pressure, typically. A Harley passing by could easily spike to 90db or more. An outdoor patio filled with groups bubbling in conversation is definitely not going to measure at 60db which is comparable to “an office conversation.” More likely it will average in the area of 65db.

The way the decibel scale works, 70db is “twice as loud” as 65db. Examples of sounds at the 70db level are

Passenger car at 65 mph at 25 ft (77 dB); freeway at 50 ft from pavement edge 10 a.m. (76 dB). Living room music (76 dB); radio or TV-audio, vacuum cleaner (70 dB).

The upper 70s are “annoyingly loud to some people.”

The reality is, that within the context of an urban outdoor patio that is situated not far from a street, a musician would need to have a general, average level of amplification that matches or exceeds the surrounding environment.

Our ears perceive sound in many subjective ways, depending on many things, including our mood, whether or not we want to hear the sound or not, whether or not we are trying to carry on a conversation, and whether or not the sound is regular and patterned (such as music) or irregular and unpredictable (such as machinery or construction work).


My submission will recommend that the wording of the proposed Noise Bylaw amendment be adjusted to reflect a more realistic sound measurement level of 65db for these outdoor commercial patios. This would give them a fighting chance to actually succeed at what they are hoping to accomplish, which is create a tasteful and enjoyable outdoor experience which includes music played at a reasonable level, and that respects normal sound levels for background music.


I believe our local businesses are run by intelligent and thoughtful citizens. They want to succeed in supporting the vibrancy of their neighbourhood. They want to be good neighbours and good corporate citizens. Our venues need a patio entertainment license program that will be reasonable and which reflects their ability to make good decisions as they work with the musicians they hire to keep the experience enjoyable for everyone.

There will be other delegations and presenters at the Planning Committee meeting. Some will be pro, others will be con.

You are welcome to attend the meeting.

Planning Committee
9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Hamilton City Hall
Council Chambers, 2nd Floor
71 Main Street West, Hamilton

Additional information

Areas affected:

  • 268, 276, & 281 Carlisle Rd
  • 523 Carlisle Rd
  • 342 8th Con Rd E
  • 1039 5th Con Rd W
  • 787 Old Hwy 8
  • 1079 Hwy 8
  • 167 Hwy 5 W
  • 1211 2nd Con Rd W
  • 1472, 1468, & 1450 2nd Con Rd W
  • 71 Hwy 52
  • 1707 Jerseyville Rd W
  • 166 Green Mountain Rd
  • 2787 Dunmark Rd
  • 1276 Shaver Rd & 914 Book Rd W
  • 8229 English Church Rd
  • 9639 Chippewa Rd
  • 185 Golf Club Rd
  • 4349 Hwy 56

Brandon Bizior Talks About Canadian Music Week, Hamilton, Songwriting, The Music Industry & MORE!

Real Talk with Dre Pao – Brandon Bizior
Presented by: Greater Hamilton Musician

HAMILTON, ON — Greater Hamilton Musician is dedicated to highlighting some of the top artists from the city that will be performing at this year’s Canadian Music Week. Hamilton-born recording artist Brandon Bizior combines songwriting influences ranging from Aerosmith to Bruce Springsteen to create a unique style of pop music that is rooted in a conscious message. The 21 year old singer/songwriter first made a name for himself as a teen on YTV’s “The Next Star”. Over the last few years Bizior has gained radio attention with singles such as “Why’d you have to be you?” and “In the Dark”. Brandon will be a part of the Higher Reign Music Showcase during Canadian Music Week on April 18th at the Drake Underground in Toronto.

Brandon Bizior photo via


Bizior’s newest single “In the Dark” is a catchy tune that tells a story about the importance of harnessing true emotions and feelings in a loving relationship. The pop single continues to gain momentum on Canadian radio after the artist’s radio tour across Canada, where Bizior promoted and performed his single acoustically around the nation.

Bizior credits Hamilton music teacher Ray Lyell as a major influence that heavily impacted his singing and guitar playing. Bizior says Lyell is responsible for creating some of the best performers and musicians that have come out of Hamilton, Ontario. The Hamilton-born artist was passionate about expressing his love for his hometown, but also shared his desire for the Hamilton Music Awards to shine a brighter light on pop music. As Hamilton’s diverse talent continues to grow, we are starting to see an increase in city-wide support for all genres! Greater Hamilton Musician is excited to be a part of transforming Hamilton into “Canada’s Music City”!

For the Full interview with Brandon Bizior, including a conversation about his songwriting and his opinion on the current state of the music industry,



For more details on Brandon Bizior, check out or follow him on Instagram and Twitter at @BrandonBizior!

Canadian Music Week 2017
Higher Reign Music Showcase
Tuesday April 18
The Drake Underground
1150 Queen St. W, Toronto
Brandon Bizior takes the stage at 11:00pm

About the Author

Dre Pao
About the Author:
Dre Pao is a Canadian artist, born in Hamilton, Ontario, that specializes in songwriting. Dre’s career was launched in 2012 by Spanish artist Xuso Jones, who was previously signed with Universal Music. Dre is best known for his work behind the scenes in the music industry and has worked with some of the top artists and publishers in music. Dre recently signed on to write for the Greater Hamilton Musician! Dre Pao will be attending a number of events that are exclusive to Canadian songwriters and music publishers in 2017 and sharing his experiences with us! Dre will also be conducting interviews and features on independent and signed artists that will be featured on! More tips and tricks to help assist Hamilton artists coming soon!

Four Years Ago Ontario Announced Its Live Music Strategy: Here’s What We Wrote Back Then

In an industry that has been stacked against them,
musicians have often been the last ones to be paid.
Stories of record companies ‘sticking it’ to
musicians or leaving them hanging while they move
on to promote some other act are numerous, especially
in earlier decades when vinyl and CDs ruled. Now
with digital rights creating a new battlefield for
payment, many artists are becoming very adept at
managing all the critical aspects of their career.
Trusted relationships are carefully developed, and
wise is the musician who chooses carefully when,
where, how and whom to work with.

The Ontario Live Music Strategy in Hamilton has
no place for shoddy business practices, or
exploitation of foolish “pretend professionals.”
Hamilton’s music scene is world class. Let’s build
it that way.

This article was written and published April, 2013.

Crowbar’s Kelly Jay quipped at the HMAs last November, “I’ve made hundreds and hundreds of dollars in this business!” His cynicism was as obvious as the buttons on his shirt.

It remains to be seen if Ontario’s Live Music Strategy will turn out to be a resounding success for the musicians. It had better be in Hamilton!

Musicians everywhere should see this new initiative as a clarion call to produce some “amazing greatness.” It’s time to stand up and be counted. A time to perfect your gig and get your ducks in order. To raise the standard of true professionalism, showmanship and performance quality.

As the big boys (festival and event organizers, promoters, corporate sponsors, big venues, industry associations, entertainment conglomerates and local governments) start to make the pieces move to produce more “music tourism” in and around Ontario, someone’s going to win, but many are going to be left on the sidelines wondering what the hell happened.

But not in Hamilton, where our best musicians are already connected to the infrastructure, and where our “big small town” atmosphere makes it easier for the major players to all get coordinated.

In addition to hundreds of high caliber musical acts, including several dozen that are performing at an international level, we have hundreds more talented support people and businesses such as equipment dealers, media agencies, design and marketing firms, recording studios, music schools and technical entrepreneurs who are quietly going about their business with excellence. They are professionals in every sense of the word. I believe they are ready and waiting.

Together we have a new opportunity to create some sort of a brand for Hamilton area music. It’s a challenging, yet rewarding task.

An assembly of representatives of music and the music business in Hamilton will meet later this month. They will answer some key questions:

  • How do we respond to the Provincial Web Portal Initiative?
  • What is the bigger picture? i.e. A Music Strategy for Hamilton?
  • Identify priorities related to the Provincial Live Music Initiative.
  • Identify champions to coordinate with city staff, represent Hamilton on the provincial Working Group, to identify funding and communicate back to larger group and the public

We may see something innovative and groundbreaking happen with regard to music tourism in Hamilton over the next few years. The depth, experience, quality and commitment of our local musicians is exceptional.

Local festival organizers are already taking some steps to coordinate their efforts. Now is the time to consider how to brand the entire region around the business of live music and, possibly, music festivals.

Great Lakes International Music Festival

What if a large regional festival replaced or bridged some of our smaller ones? Maybe something like a “Great Lakes International Music Festival” would fit the bill. Or perhaps “World of Waterfalls Cultural Festival (WOWFest)?”

WOW Fest:
International World of Waterfalls Music Festival

If it sounds like I’m dreaming pie-in-the-sky, think again. Remember: Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport is in on this. They’ve set themselves to build up Ontario live music as a potential growth area of international tourism, not just in-province tourism. Just like the Montreal Jazz Festival pulls performers and visitors from around the world, our Golden Horseshoe area is ripe for a similar event.

It’s time to think big. There is a very good chance that the net gains from a new, large regional festival would be significant. But it will still be up to our local artists to create “amazingly great” performance product that is worth paying for.

Professionalism Required

Musicians need to see the big picture and be ready. Let’s not be at fault for scraping the bottom of the barrel, playing for nothing. Let’s aspire, together with bright-thinking local venue and event people, to move Hamilton’s music brand forward. When the organizers and talent buyers look, we’ll be there with our acts together, our media kits ready, and fully clothed with our professional attitude.

Now if we could just chase those few hucksters out of town who think that it’s okay to exploit musicians as free labour and then make money behind their backs, and those musician-bozos who are more than happy to play for anything but cash.

Drew of “Return For Refund” Talks about Their NEW Album, Upcoming Show in Hamilton, Lessons from the Canadian Armed Forces, and MORE! 

Real Talk with Dre Pao – Return For Refund (Drew)
Presented by: Greater Hamilton Musician

HAMILTON, ON — Toronto rockers “Return for Refund” are set to take over ‘the Hammer’ on April 13th at The Doors Taco Joint! The group combines the energy of metal and the blues, with influences from the grunge-era, to create a unique sound that is truly their own. The band released their newest album “Lift You Up” in late March. Return For Refund expresses a raw and organic sound that was created through their ‘live-off-the-floor’ recording of the album in Toronto, Ontario.

“I had a lot of first hand experiences in seeing a lot of different types of leadership, under very stressful circumstances..If you’re going to have a group of guys that are going to do something worth mention, it’s going to have to be a very tight run group, with a strong vision…We’ve really reached a point where the band itself is rock solid.”  — Drew (Return For Refund)
on how the Canadian Armed Forces shaped his leadership in the band.

The band members all share a mutual love for 70’s rock and are heavily influenced by some of rock music’s best, including Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Black Sabbath. The group prides itself on having a passion for music that is intricate and rooted in strong emotion. Their newest album “Lift You Up” is described as carrying themes of “self sacrifice, carrying out one’s duty, and taking care of people.” There are many obstacles that often come with being in a rock band and because of this, lead singer Drew describes that it is important that the group are “brothers first, who maintain love and respect for each other.” This mutual respect is what allows the band to come together on stage and transcend their performance into something that is truly packed with strength and energy. 

Be sure to come to The Doors Taco Joint in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday April 13th to see the high energy performance by Return for Refund LIVE!

Check out the FULL Interview with Drew below:


For more information on Return for Refund, visit !
Follow them on Instagram at @ReturnForRefund
or on Twitter at @R4Rband