Meet the MusicWorks Panelists: Anya Wilson, Chris Burke-Gaffney, Mike Denney, Rob Cyrynowski, Tim Hunze

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We're teaming up with our friends at Manitoba Country Music Association for a day of connecting and learning for the country music community at the inaugural Manitoba Country Music Meeting on November 11. Our panelists will be sharing their expertise in a two-part session about topics that will have a significant effect on the success of a country artist's career. Get more info or register at and check out the panelists' bios...

Anya Wilson's career has been based in Canada and in England, significantly in publicity and radio tracking. In the UK, working with David Bowie and Sir Paul McCartney.  In Canada she now specializes in country music radio tracking. Her clients are Dallas Smith, Dustin Lynch, Lindsay Ell, Emerson Drive, Aaron Pritchett, George Canyon and newcomers PETRIC and Nicole Rayy. She is the only independent tracker to have achieved three consecutive #1 singles for a male country artist (Dallas Smith). Anya is one of the founders of the CMAO in Ontario.

Chris Burke-Gaffney “aka” CBG is the CEO of CBG Artist Development, a company that has helped launch the music careers of notable Canadian stars as Chantal Kreviazuk, McMaster & James, Sierra Noble, Mackenzie Porter and many more. Burke-Gaffney started his career as singer/bassist for The Pumps (Polygram) and signed his first record deal as a teenager. He toured with superstar acts including Guns & Roses and AC/DC. While in his 20s, he wrote his first of six top ten Canadian singles. Since that time CBG’s accolades include, The SOCAN songwriter award for most airplay, two JUNO nominations, #1 Country song in Australia and winner of NY Songwriting Competition. His songs have been used in placed in a variety of film and TV and his behind the scenes work earned him the Western Canadian Music Award for Manager of the Year three times. Over the last six years, Burke-Gaffney has become a regular on the Nashville songwriting scene collaborating with some of Nashville’s best writers and up and coming artists.

With roots in Toronto, Mike Denney brings a multitude of expertise, creativity, and knowledge along with his record business acumen to the industry and the award-winning artists he proudly works with. An honoured member of the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) board of directors and former member of the board of birectors for the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA), Denney’s passion and steadfast support for the country music genre and contribution to the industry has been acknowledged with three CCMA Awards for Record Person of the Year (2014, 2015, 2017). In his roles as president of MDM Recordings Inc., his vision and leadership led the label to become the #1 independent country label in Canada in 2015 and 2016, with his elite roster of artists achieving multiple top 10 hits in 2016 and 2017 to date. In 2015 and 2016, the MDM Recordings team celebrated the CCMA Award for Record Company of the Year. In June of 2017, Denney relaunched the Acronym Records label along with managing partner Tony Tarleton, anchoring themselves as the latest full service record label imprint in Canada with a global focus. The MDM Records Inc. roster includes Jess Moskaluke, Chad Brownlee, Bobby Wills, David James, Leaving Thomas and The Lovelocks.The Acronym Records label is home to Southern Saskatchewan native and indie rock/alt-country artist Megan Nash.

With over 25 years in the entertainment business, Rob Cyrynowski is considered a veteran in the Canadian music industry. In 1991, he began his career as a club DJ (DJ Fresh) in Edmonton, helping launch club after club and being a part of one of the most successful nightclub empires in Canadian history, Penny Lane Entertainment Group. The group went on to open over 15 nightclubs throughout Alberta including the world-famous, Cowboys Dance Hall in Calgary. Soon after, Cyrynowski went on to start his own company called Livestar Entertainment Canada, which offered talent buying, agent, producer, and promoter services for clients across Canada. In 2013, he joined forces with Invictus Entertainment Group -- which is comprises of a booking agency, an artist management division, talent buyer, and promoter/touring division, and a record label -- as vice president. The boutique agency represents Brett Kissel, George Canyon, Emerson Drive, Aaron Pritchett, and Carolyn Dawn Johnson. The Invictus team has also worked with some of the biggest artists in the world, including Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, Florida Georgia Line, Carrie Underwood, Sam Hunt, Thomas Rhett, Dolly Pardon, Nickelback, Def Leppard, The Tragically Hip, Bryan Adams, Motley Crue, Blink 182, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, John Fogerty, DJ’s Tiesto & Armin van Buuren, Rihanna, Backstreet Boys, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, and Wiz Khalifa to name a few. The CCMA has presented Invictus with a total of 10 awards over the last five years in the categories of booking agency, management company, and talent buyer/promoter. Most recently, Invictus president Jim Cressman and the team picked up the coveted 2017 International Talent Buyer Award at the IEBA conference in Nashville.

Upon graduation from Middle Tennessee State University and armed with a degree in recording industry management, Tim Hunze started his own record label, Rhythm and Grooves Records. The label had strong initial success with a hit video on BET and a charted single on Billboard charts. Ultimately, Hunze sold his interest in the company. and in 1993, took at job as archive manger at Great Cumberland Music Group (later renamed to Hamstein Music), garnering his first cut with Giant Records artist, Clay Walker, within a year. This cut turn into Hunze's first single that peaked at #14 on Billboard’s country music chart. Hunze was promoted to creative director in 1995 and procured cuts with Tim McGraw, George Strait, Diamond Rio, John Michael Montgomery, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, and more. In 2000, Hamstein sold to Mosaic Music group and then in 2005 sold to Stage Three Music Group. Hunze was appointed the general manger, and during his tenure, had over 15 #1 songs, while  writer Bobby Pinson won 2009 BMI Song Writer of The Year award and  Brett James won 2010 ASCAP writer of the year. In July of 2011, Hunze started Parallel Music Publishing, a partnership with JP Williams of Parallel Entertainment. In their first five years they have scored five #1 singles including tracks by Miranda Lambert, The Band Perry and Kelsea Ballerini.

Get to know more about our panelists with our little Q+A...

Which three words would the people closest to you use to describe you the best?

Anya: Tenacious, passionate, driven.

Chris: The three would be inappropriate for anyone under 18.

Mike: Driven, passionate, pain in the ass.

Rob: Patient, fair, honest.

Tim: Passionate, honest, talkative.

Which skill would you love to learn?

Anya: DIY.

Chris: Hip hop dance.

Mike: Would love to pbe able to learn hoew to play a musical instrument.

Rob: I would like to train for a triathalon.

Tim: I’d love to learn to code.

What’s your hidden talent?

Anya: Strategizing.

Chris: Armchair psychology.

Mike: I'm a pretty good cook.

Rob: My hidden talent is that I speak fluent Polish.

Tim: I can juggle.

What is the greatest part about your job?

Anya: Designing and working a promo campaign.

Chris: Making lifelong friends.

Mike: Finding, signing, developing the best Canadian talent I can find.

Rob: The greatest part of my job is connecting the fans with the music and the artist.

Tim: Working with creatives and helping make their dreams come true.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Anya:  Managing artist expectations.

Chris: Administration.

Mike: Personal, worklife balance, travel.

Rob: The most challenging part of my job is time management.

Tim: Making money in the current environment.

Don't miss your chance to connect with this visit panelists at the Manitoba Country Music Meeting on November 11. 

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