Meet the MusicWorks Panelists: Ashley Sperling, Stu Anderson

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Coming up on Wednesday, November 16, MusiCount’s Ashley Sperling and Mighty Cypress’ Stu Anderson will be joining us for our last DIY Series event of the season, Creating Demand Through Music Marketing. Get to know them a little better through this Q+A…

Ashley Sperling is a music, technology and marketing enthusiast. She’s currently manager of events and programs at MusiCounts, was recently marketing manager at Cadence Music, sits on the board of directors of the Country Music Association of Ontario, and teaches digital marketing classes at The Harris Institute for the Arts. Ashley was also previously manager of partnerships, merchandising and content marketing for BlackBerry’s North American music and video storefronts. She has experience as a digital marketing manager for Universal Music Canada, an artist management company, and Luminato Festival.  Ashley has managed campaigns and projects for numerous artists including Royal Wood, Hedley, Justin Bieber, The Bros. Landreth, Keshia Chanté, Drake, Jann Arden, Florence & The Machine, Martha Wainwright, and more.

Mighty Cypress Talent Inc. was founded two years ago by Stu Anderson as a full-service talent management and event production company.  Stu’s current artist management roster includes Begonia, The Bros. Landreth, Cairo Knife Fight, Joey Landreth, and Living Hour.  Stu previously spent five years as a booking agent at Paquin Artists Agency.

What is your simplest definition of marketing?

Ashley: My simplest definition of artist marketing is the process of identifying an artist’s specific target audience and letting that audience know about the artist and what they’re doing, ultimately in the hopes of increasing awareness, engagement, and revenue.

Stu: To know and understand the product, identify who the audience is (or could be), and then effectively communicate the offerings. Most musicians start their process by creating honest and subjective art. That makes the marketing music somewhat unique. In other industries, products are only developed after significant market research and a very calculated conclusion that the product will be in demand. 

What do you think are some of the common misconceptions about music marketing?

Ashley:  If the music/artist is good, you don’t need to market it. That all digital marketing is 100% free, and conversely that you need a huge budget to make an impact – the truth is somewhere in the middle. Artists often think there is some magic recipe or formula that can make something they do “go viral”. That when an artist has a team like a label and/or a manager they don’t have to do any of the work.

Stu: That good marketing of your music will guarantee instant fan reaction and buzz. It’s the music that has to be good. 

Which artists have the best marketing chops? Who should emerging acts look to for inspiration?

Ashley: There are a lot of artists I follow, but I usually try to pay attention to any interesting and successful campaigns that artists do. I often see if I can take inspiration from something that a very successful artist is doing and scale down or adapt it to fit my project. I also look at brands and companies outside of music to see if there is something they’re doing that I can learn from. Really the best advice I can give is always try and pay attention to what artists and brands you admire are doing, and hopefully you can be inspired by them. Artists who I pay attention to for marketing inspiration: Arcade Fire (especially with their videos – they always do something cool), Taylor Swift, Weird Al Yankovic (Mandatory Fun Video Campaign), Health (3D printing augmented reality), Yacht (LA traffic campaign), The Tragically Hip (strong mobile and location-based campaigns), Amanda Palmer, and Beyoncé.

Stu: The artists with the best marketing chops are ones who present themselves with an honest approach. Look to your favourite bands to see how they are successfully engaging with a captivated audience. You can borrow strategies and make them your own

What’s the most rewarding part of your role in the industry?

Ashley: It’s pretty awesome to help an artist share their creativity with as many people as possible, and to be a small part of an artist’s success. I teach at a music business school, and it’s rewarding to share my knowledge with other people who are interested in continuing to develop and grow the industry. It’s rewarding when an idea that seems difficult or slightly crazy at first actually works and exceeds your expectations.

Stu: It’s the little victories along the way that keep me inspired. When an artist that I’m working with achieves a something, big or small, and I’ve had a hand in making it happen. 


Marketing, put simply, is the act of creating demand for a product. This workshop will build on previous DIY Series events and examine how social media, publicity, and branding come together to form fully-integrated music marketing strategies that will grow your business by increasing your fan base. Cost is $10 for members and $25 for non-members.

MusicWorks DIY Series offers developing artists and industry, as well as veterans looking to update their skills, the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the music business.

Register online, or to get more info, please contact:

David Landreth, Professional Development Coordinator
Manitoba Music
P: 204.975.5188

MusicWorks is made possible by the generous support of the Province of Manitoba through Industry Services of Manitoba Jobs and the Economy; the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) through the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada's Private Radio Broadcasters; The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group; and The SOCAN Foundation.

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