Canada has been thrust into the international spotlight and credited as an environment where artists and the music industry as a whole have huge potential to thrive. However, even with the recent success of Canadian hip-hop and R&B, there are industry professionals, such as Entertainment One, Quiet As Kept & U.S A&R T-Nyce, who believe the hip-hop side of the industry has become stagnated, to a degree.
Over the past couple of years, we have witnessed the Canadian urban landscape shift from fresh new sounds to what seems to have become a 2019 version of an autotune trend, while certain artists like Merkules almost always seem to get the short end of the stick. His highly anticipated album Cole shot straight to number one on the iTunes Hip-Hop Charts in Canada but received very little country wide support from mainstream outlets.
“Executives are not involving themselves in the creative process anymore; going to the clubs, being in studio with the artist, they’re not listening for or seeing where the curve is going next.” – T-Nyce
It’s not just the lack of support that is worrisome to artists and artist managers alike. There are other pressing issues music industry professionals tip-toe around such as talented, bubbling artists being offered insufficient and insignificant record deals, essentially forcing management teams to shop their artists outside of the country.
Keeping all of this in mind, I decided to reach out to T-Nyce to speak about the state of the music industry here in Canada.
HipHopCanada: What are the main things A&Rs are looking for these days when signing a new artist?
T-Nyce: Every A&R is different. We look at different things when it comes to signing an act. There is the old school way and the new school way, the old school way is looking at pure talent and following your gut feeling. While new school way is looking at numbers and clout.
HipHopCanada: Why has the Canadian landscape forced artists and their teams to seek out exposure outside of Canada?
T-Nyce: The Canadian landscape for music has forced artists to pursue their dreams elsewhere because we have no A&Rs connecting with the streets or the grassroots. I seem to be the only one really out in these streets, taking meetings with upcoming artists and their teams as well as making things happen by creating opportunities. No shade, but it seems like everyone else is just here for content and to collect a cheque.
HipHopCanada: What do you think is the disconnect between executives and the everyday listener or consumer?
T-Nyce: Executives are not involving themselves in the creative process anymore; going to the clubs, being in studio with the artist, they’re not listening for or seeing where the curve is going next. Unfortunately, that will always be the cause for the disconnect. Think back to when executives used to be in the studio and part of the creative process. Think Puff, Dame, Bigs etc. They all played a crucial part of the creative process by at least giving their opinions.
HipHopCanada: Let’s switch gears for a moment and talk about the issues with some of these new age record deals in Canada. Why do we hear stories about certain artists still having to get part time jobs even after inking their deals?
T-Nyce: Artists are looking for jobs due to the deals being cheap. Labels should at the least be advancing artists they sign an average of 40k to 80k to be able to move around without any financial restrictions. The entire point of signing to a major label is for the artist to focus on the craft they were just signed for instead of stressing over finances.
HipHopCanada: Should we give up on the Canadian Music Industry?
T-Nyce: No we shouldn’t. It is up to us to spark a change, even though we are 10 years behind the US and UK markets, I still believe that changing this industry starts with us.
HipHopCanada: What has been your greatest challenge to overcome?
T-Nyce: Nothing difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week. It’s all about renewing your mind daily and the situation you face.
HipHopCanada: What are some things we can do to change the Canadian Music Industry?
T-Nyce: Very good question. We simply need to start signing our own talent in Canada whether it’s here in Toronto or across the country. That’s the first thing. We shouldn’t say “It’s too early.” I hear a lot of A&R saying that lately, it’s crazy to me because the labels here don’t have urban/hip-hop acts even signed in the buildings. So what’s the wait for exactly? Put it like this, if you sign seven acts in the year, at least three will be great for the company, one will be almost there and the other three will be late. That at least gives you hope for the future. This is what is being done in America and the UK now. You have Canadian artists being signed to major labels in the UK and in America and we have labels here too. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
HipHopCanada: Last topic I’d like to touch on is radio. What are your opinions on Canadian Radio overall?
T-Nyce: Radio in Canada is another subject. No comment, but I will say this, we are trying and that is what matters.
You can follow @NyceSound on Instagram.
Interview conducted by Remi Louis Harris for HipHopCanada
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