Victoria’s’s music scene held back by lack of venues

Victoria has plenty of talent but few places to play, say bands

Those in the Victoria music scene see it as a place with talent, and a receptive audience, but a lack of venues is holding it back from becoming something even greater.

“For the past five or six years, Victoria has had a really robust music scene,” said Stephen Franke of Blue Heron Music. “Having a good fan base here, and a big enough city to have success … has really helped create a little buzz.”

Franke manages Current Swell, a local band gaining international popularity. Franke said they made a concerted effort to “grow the visibility of the band” outside of Victoria and tap into larger, more lucrative markets.

James Kasper, a local musician, manager and president of Blue Water Gun Records, said the main issue holding back the Victoria music scene is a lack of venues where bands can play live. Kasper said there is a hole to be filled and the demand to support it.

“There’s tons and tons of great talent that hasn’t even seen the light of day because if you don’t have the venues, those bands don’t get to showcase themselves,” Kasper said.

The landscape of the local music scene is also changing due to technology and trends. With most music sales going digital, bands and managers are finding new ways to record music, find fans and hopefully make some money in the process.

The Archers, a young Victoria band making a name for itself, is trying to raise $7,000 to record its first album.

The main avenue for funding is through Indiegogo, an online platform where fans can donate money for perks, ranging from a copy of the album (once it’s complete) to a personal house show.

“I don’t think any of us ever got into this with the mindset of we’re going to be millionaires. We just want to have fun and it’s nice to do it without losing any money,” drummer Liam Moes said.

With online music sales surpassing hardcopy sales,  promoters, managers and bands are turning to the Internet to get their name out there.

“Social media obviously has taken over the majority of how bands market themselves,” said Jocelyn Greenwood of Cordova Bay Entertainment Group.

“The key now is to market the band as a culture. You’re not marketing a product anymore, which is the old way of doing things.”

Greenwood manages Acres of Lions, another growing Victoria band. When they started, most of the band members had day jobs but in 2012 the band played more than 130 gigs and suddenly they were all full-time musicians.

Band members frequently Tweet, blog, post videos and use social media to connect with fans. The attention only starts to pay off when the fans support music the old-fashioned way.

“At the end of the day those people are our customers,” said Tyson Verex, keyboardist and singer for the band. “If we can reach out to them … that’s going to help get more people out to the shows and, in turn, generate us more income.”

 

kwells@goldstreamgazette.com