Skip to main content

Behind the ECMAs – Part 1

The East Coast Music Awards kick-off in Moncton, NB tonight. In the first of a two-part interview, ECMA executive director Su Hutchinson opens up about herself and the annual gathering.

AE: When did you become Executive Director of the East Coast Music Association?
SH: I started in the fall of 2009. Beforehand, for six years, I was the General Manager with a Canadian Celtic artist named Loreena McKennitt. She’s an extraordinary musician and businesswoman so it’s really great to bring that experience back to working with multiple musicians, which is pretty fantastic.

AE: Is that what inspired you to work with the ECMA?
SH: Yes. I think what I recognize is so important is the ability for our artists, who really are all small and medium-sized, independent businesses, is that they really do need what we work very hard to offer them, which is basically business support in terms of international reach into a buyer’s market and opportunities to showcase their music. And, of course, what we do every year is bring as much of the world together as we can to see them at their very best in the annual cycle.

Sue is from Ontario originally.
SH: And actually, I’m leaving again. I’ve done quite a bit of work here to do some financial rebuilding and I’m heading back to Toronto actually after this year’s ECMA. So I’ll have finished my third ECMA and a search is underway right now for a new Executive Director. I’ve been hired to be the managing director with a theatre and Performance Company in Toronto called “Canadian Stage”…  And before music I was actually a fundraiser for 15 years working both in theatre and with Canadian authors, and so on.

AE: How have the annual ECMAs changed over the years?
SH: I think again, it’s probably been reflective of how the world is viewing its music and absorbing its music. So, at one time, well before my time here, there was a national broadcast of the awards show on CBC. I think that went on for six years or something. It was a really amazing, high level show that allowed east coast music to really be discovered by the rest of the country in a very significant way. So as those borders of access to music has changed for both revenue and independent artists. The way they are accessing their audiences in a world wide way which is obviously digitally-based – it has become more about how do you directly get to your audience member. And there’s a very different way of doing that than necessarily through a television broadcast. Really, I think with the awards show and everything else that we do – and actually what we do is a whole week of activity - our main focus is on business development for our artists. So we bring in buyers from around the world, and agents, and so on and so forth. And we do upwards of 720 one-on-one meetings between our musicians and our managers and these buyers for these people to have fruitful and economically stable careers as musicians. So, there’s been a shift, and a lot of that is based on having the digital technology that we have.

AE: Are their programs for non-established or ‘rookie’ musicians?
SH: One of the most important things is that each of the provinces, with the exception of Ontario I think, has what’s called a “music industry association” or MIA. So, in the Atlantic Provinces there are four. Those MIAs really are the very first calling place for any musician. At the same time, what we offer at the ECMA is, although we’re targeting our programs for export-level artists, we do a major conference every year– a music industry conference –that is THE place to learn about the business, like in no other way. So that’s where we encourage our new artists to really focus on developing their businesses, because it so independent. Those record labels exist but they’re buying far less music than they did in the past, so you really are looking at an independent career now. It’s also probably the most intelligent way to have a music career now because you really can control all the elements – the income elements, the legal elements – yourself. We encourage new musicians to absolutely take in the conference. We offer export training with the MIA as a partnership, so that it really helps them be prepared for when they have those meetings with the buyers: how to present yourself, what kind of information to convey…We also offer performance training, so that when you do have that one minute to capture somebody’s attention with your performance, that you can do it in a really, the most genuine way you can with your style of music and the songs that you write. ~ Michelle Brunet

April 11-15, 2012, Moncton, New Brunswick

Popular posts from this blog

Charles Hsuen

Even after almost 30 years as the voice of jazz in Halifax, Charles Hsuen shows no signs of slowing down. His passion to preserve and promote the genre to listeners of all ages cannot be overstated. Recently we spoke with Hsuen about his roots, and his life-long love of big band, bebop, swing, Sinatra and more.
What are your own roots? My roots derive from a rather mixed background. My father is of Vietnamese / Tibetan / Chinese heredity, but grew up in India, before immigrating to Canada in 1967. While my mother’s roots stem from Indo-China, she grew up in Brunei before immigrating to Canada in 1969. Both extended families ultimately settled in Toronto and my parents met and married in the early 1970's. The last name “Hsuen” (now XUAN), pronounced “Schwen,” comes from the Last Emperor of China Henry Pu Yi who ruled using the name Xuantong from 1909 until his forced abdication in 1912. The story was of a tumultuous reign, his forced resignation and eventual attempt to reclaim his ti…

Danny Bilsborough

Danny Bilsborough, NSCC alumna and owner of Danny B Studios, has spent most of her days consulting various clients on software options for their new business endeavours. 
Although she’s been involved with assessing some really exciting projects, nothing makes her happier than grabbing her brush and splashing colour on a canvas. That’s why she’s decided to take the plunge into becoming a full-time artist.
“I was always so scared to try using colour, but when my daughter was born and the opportunity came to incorporate these new palettes into her life, they quickly found their way into mine,” she says.
Colour brings light to many things and gives people a sense of enjoyment. Markus Maier explained in his academic journal titled Color Psychology that colour carries great meaning and can have an important impact on people's affect, cognition and behaviour.
Bilsborough’s favourite pieces to create are those of nature and animals – a quick look at her online Etsy page confirms this. She be…


Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of the passing of Elvis Presley, International World-Champion Elvis tribute artist, Thane Dunn and his Cadillac Kings, will perform seven shows throughout the Maritimes over the coming months. Recently we spoke with the King of Kings about his passion and profession.
What are your roots? I was born in Moncton, New Brunswick. I've lived everywhere from California to Toronto but Moncton always has had a special place in my heart. My musical roots have always been early Rock and Roll and also old Country and Western like Buck Owens and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve always been a huge Jim Morrison fan. He had a lot of similar traits to Elvis.
What first inspired the Elvis tribute? I always loved the man and I’ve had people tell me I looked like him and in early bands I was in people would say I sounded like him. I had a few months leading up to the decision to do it where it seemed every time I turned on the TV there was Elvis, the radio would be playing Elvis…