Meet the January Music Meeting Panelists

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The pencils are sharpened and the schedules are done... January Music Meeting is back and ready to host some of Canada’s top music industry pros for the sixth edition of the winter mini-conference. Label, agent, management, festival, publishing, and publicity representatives will converge in the Manitoba Music building to discuss the state of Canada’s independent music industry and provide concrete advice on how to succeed in the ever-changing music business.

In conjunction with Big Fun Festival, we kick off this four-day gathering on January 24 with a discussion on Representation & Intersectionality in Music. The next three days will be a fantastic opportunity to gain access to tastemakers and experts from across the country while connecting with local artists and industry peers, at a conference designed and held right here in Manitoba. Be sure to take the time to research the speakers ahead of time, particularly if you're requesting one-on-one meetings.

Get all the JMM details at manitobamusic.com/jmm and get to know our panelists a bit better right here...


Alexandre Bonenfant is a Toronto-based JUNO Award-winning and Polaris-nominated music producer; engineer, recording studio owner, artist manager, and founder of record label Sleepless Records. Alex graduated from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology in 2004 and after five years apprenticing, opened his own recording studio, Dream House Studio, a hotbed for Toronto’s emerging talent. In 2012, Alex founded Sleepless Records which now boasts a roster of over 11 releases and Nightmare Management, home to JUNO Award-winning band July Talk.

After a stint working on events, Amanda Schweers got her start in the music industry working in an executive role for Music BC. In 2009, Amanda joined the TFA team in Vancouver, where after working many years alongside agent Rob Wright, she was promoted to be an Agent. Amanda also co-owns Amazing Factory Productions, a Vancouver-based film company, which along with the band We Are The City, produced the award-winning feature film, Violent. Amanda has always been a passionate advocate of the BC music community, and continues her efforts consulting artists and industry members to help further their careers.

Brooke Morgan started her music career with Paper Bag Records in 2012 as the label celebrated its ten year anniversary. In her time at the label, she worked with a number of acclaimed artists including The Rural Alberta Advantage to Born Ruffians, Sam Roberts Band, and Elliott Brood. As label director, Brooke helped steer Paper Bag Records through a rebrand of the label including the introduction of a new logo, exciting artist signings, and a unique vinyl-only imprint. Recently, Brooke left Paper Bag to start Graceless Lady Management. In this new venture, Brooke is focused on managing Toronto-based gritty pop duo, Ice Cream, and bringing her years of label experience to help artists develop, market, and monetize.

Cai Trefor works as the editor of Gigwise.com. As well as writing features and news, he commissions budding writers and established authors for the site which is one of the most trafficked and trusted online music publications in the UK. Cai has an eclectic taste in music and thanks to an ever growing global readership, gives a platform for the best emerging and established artists, promoters, labels – and beyond.

David Andre Amar is associate attorney at CoveyLaw. He focuses his practice on preparing O and P visa petitions within the firm’s performing arts division. At CoveyLaw, David has prepared over 500 successful visa petitions, providing US work authorization to thousands of performing artists and their essential support staff, specializing in petitions for musicians. He represents his clients before US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the US Department of State, and US Customs and Border Protection. Having grown up in Canada, he has first-hand experience negotiating the US immigration process, and was a professional musician and chef before embarking on his legal career.

As an innovative, strategic and success-minded leader, Erin Kinghorn founded eEK! Productions in 2008 with the mission to service and develop the Canadian music industry by giving artists and their teams solutions to build their brand and maximize their fanbase through multiple platforms. eEK! Productions is one of the top marketing and funding administration agencies based in Toronto that services all levels of artists. eEK! Productions clients include Blue Rodeo, Cowboy Junkies, Lee Harvey Osmond, Jim Cuddy, the Trews, and The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer. In 2017, Erin with her partners launched Digital Promotions Group, a digital playlist service and US Digital PR company based in Toronto with clients including Serena Ryder, Young Galaxy, and Daysormay. Prior to forming eEK!, Erin spent eight years with Nettwerk Music Group as director of sales and marketing. Erin has also sat on the MusicBC board for six years and is a member of the Across the Board initiative founded in 2017, promoting 50/50 gender equality on music industry boards by 2020.

Coming from an A&R and label background, Geoff Goddard co-founded the Frontside Group in 2003. The company currently operates Strange Loop Promo (US radio promotion), Frontside Promotions (Canadian radio and playlist promotion), and the NACC Chart (the official chart for Non-Comm and College radio in North America). 2018 clients include: The Glorious Sons, Arctic Monkeys, Metric, Major Lazer, Black Pistol Fire, Nick Cave, Rostam, LoLo, The Zolas, Diplo, Mother Mother, Alice Merton, Bob Moses, and Said The Whale.

Hill Kourkoutis is an artist, producer, songwriter, composer, musician, and director who works out of her studio, The Lair.  Hill has produced albums or singles for Jules (“Before You Picked Her” #1 CBC, Top 40 Alternative Radio), SATE, Madison Violet, Leela Gilday, Graph, Eh440, The Cliks, Pavlo, Ghost Caravan, and Martha and the Muffins. She has done remixes for Jill Barber, Good Lovelies, Dear Rouge, July Talk, and Adam Cohen. As a songwriter, her songs have been recorded by Poesy, Meghan Patrick, SATE, Graph, The Cliks, and Mookie and the Loyalists, to name a few. She has also composed for Cadillac, The Adventures of Napkin Man, Paper Girls, and "Blowback". Her songs have also appeared in television shows and films such as Kim’s Convenience, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Killjoys, Offspring, Pulling Strings, as well as ads for Urban Planet and Virgin Mobile. As a musician, Hill has played with artists such as Serena Ryder, The Weeknd, Danny Michel, Martha and the Muffins, and Tara Slone and can be seen on the CTV series, The Launch, as the guitarist in the show's house band.

Jamie Sitar’s work has won JUNO Awards and earned Gold and Platinum record sales.  His credits include William Prince, Randy Bachman, Bif Naked, Jess Moskaluke, Swollen Members, Classified, as well as many indie artists. Jamie grew up in Winnipeg, but spent much of his adult life in Vancouver.  He logged 10 years as the senior engineer at Suite Sound Labs – Vancouver’s busiest mastering studio. In that role, he mastered hundreds and hundreds of titles for CD, LP, and online release. In 2010, Jamie moved back to the Winnipeg area and founded Outta Town Sound, his own personal working environment.  Embracing this new age of online communication and file delivery, Jamie services a worldwide client base.

Multiple award winner Jason Burnstick is a Plains Cree musician and composer who performs with his arsenal of weissenborns and lap slide guitars. Also a respected singer and songwriter in his own right, Jason is known for his ability to freely move from one style to the next, attributing this freedom to his musical upbringing. In 2013, Jason suffered a vocal injury, losing his voice completely, and requiring him to undergo vocal cord surgery, followed by many months of vocal therapy.  This sudden unexpected turn of events lead Jason to take a step back from performing as a solo artist, the time to take on a new challenge, as producer and songwriter for the children’s album, Wrapped in Daisies, recorded with Nadine L’Hirondelle. Nominated for two Indigenous Music Awards, and winner of the IMA for Best Folk/Acoustic CD, this album features Aboriginal songs for children, including NCI’s #1 hit "Bannock in my Belly".  He also recorded and co-produced the award-winning children's lullaby album, Dream Big Little One * Fais de beaux rêves, petit ange, with his wife Nadia Gaudet Burnstick. Genuinely grateful and newly inspired by his full vocal recovery, Jason has now begun the work on a new album, and he can be found performing a mixture of blues and folk with the Burnstick Duo, consisting of himself and Nadia. He also takes every opportunity to perform with long-standing friend and peer, JUNO Award winner, Leela Gilday, with whom he has had a musical kinship and has toured worldwide for over a decade.

Jörg Tresp has been working in the music industry for more than 24 years. During this time he has acted as a product and marketing manager for a major label, taught music business, and has been running his own independent label, DevilDuck Records, for almost 15 years. He is working with a number of international artists, primarily Canada, like The Dead South, Shred Kelly, Yes We Mystic and Close Talker. He specializes in artist development and has just re-structured the booking side of things now called Midnight Mango Hamburg.

Joy K. Balmana is a communications and events coordinator with a passion for community-minded arts and music projects. She holds a BFA degree from the University of Manitoba and graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program. In 2016, Joy launched Stream WPG (“Winnipeg”), a non-profit live-streaming concert series. Today, Joy works as the opportunities coordinator with Synonym Art Consultation, a curatorial collective committed to providing meaningful employment and mentorship opportunities to artists and to facilitate the celebration of art and culture Joy has worked with a number of Manitoba arts festivals including Culture Days, Nuit Blanche, and Holiday Alley. 

Julia Train’s history in the Canadian music industry began with her training in classical piano and love of music. She attended the Harris Institute for the Arts, where she studied Recorded Arts Management. Shortly after graduating, she went to work for the CMRRA’s Royalties Administration department. Julia was a valued member of the FACTOR team from 2008-2011 as a submissions coordinator and communications manager.

Kiana 'rookz♖' Eastmond is the founder and director at Sandbox Studios, one of the most successful urban music artist development and recoding facilities in Toronto. With sessions with Cardi B, Tory Lanez, Kid Ink, and most of the city's up and coming, Sandbox has become a staple in the scene. Former music manager and now an award-winning serial entrepreneur, rookz is a public speaker, consultant and innovator, sitting on panels from Toronto to New York, and all over the world, 'rookz' is quickly becoming one of Toronto's stars behind the stars. 

Ayo Leilani aka Witch Prophet is a self-managed, queer, Ethiopian/Eritrean, singer-songwriter, the CEO of Heart Lake Records (FKA 88 Days Of Fortune) and member of feminist-based electro dub hop group 'Above Top Secret'. Witch Prophet has shared the stage with and opened for acts like TheeSatisfaction, Shabazz Palaces, Lido Pimienta, A Tribe Called Red, Monte Booker, Shad, Clairmont The Second, SAMMUS, Sean Leon, JPEGMAFIA, The Cliks, Rae Spoon, Zaki Ibrahim, Kae Sun, and LAL, to name a few. Her vocals have appeared on Shad's Flying Colours LP as well as Polaris Prize winner Fucked Up's newest LP, Dose your Dreams. She has toured Europe independently twice and has performed at North American and European music festivals like Black Women Rock, Manifesto, Pride Toronto, Soul Of Brooklyn, Montreal Jazz Festival, New Skool Rules, Sappy Fest, Electric Eclectic, Summerworks, Ottawa Capital Pride, Pop Montreal, Allied Media Conference, AFROPUNK, CMW, NXNE, Halifax Pop Explosion and so many more. Her EPs H.P.B, and Architect of Heartbreak Remixes were met with great praise when released fall of 2016 and spring of 2017. As was her highly anticipated album The Golden Octave released via her own label in May 2018. Currently, she is working on her sophomore LP D.N.A Activation.

Racquel Villagante is the A&R representative at SOCAN Vancouver. Prior to joining the SOCAN membership team, Racquel was at Nimbus School of Recording & Media where she served as a teaching assistant for Music Business 100 and Music Business 200 classes. During her time at the Nimbus School, Racquel was hired on as label manager for Business Class Records where she was responsible for signing artists and bands, while building partnerships with media and sponsors. Racquel is a top graduate of the Nimbus Business School of Recording & Media Music Business Management program, and holds a degree in Psychology & English Literature from the University of British Columbia. Racquel also contributes as a live reviewer for Hip-Hop Vancouver, the go-to website for talent discovery in Vancouver’s hip hop scene. Her passion is discovering emerging talent and helping artists achieve their goals and dreams within the music business.

Uzoma Asagwara is an entrepreneur, registered psychiatric nurse, former member of the Premier's Advisory Council on education, poverty, and citizenship, retired member of the Canadian Women's National basketball team, and founder of QPOC Winnipeg. QPOC is an initiative that creates safer spaces for queer and trans people of colour in Winnipeg.

Tagged
January Music Meeting Meet the Panelists Manitoba Music Professional Development Big Fun Alex Bonenfant Sleepless Records Jörg Tresp DevilDuck Records Amanda Schweers The Feldman Agency Ayo Leilani Witch Prophet Brooke Morgan Graceless Lady Management Cai Trefor Gigwise David Amar CoveyLaw Dougie Bohay Deckstar Management Elliott Walsh Nestor Wynrush Studio 393 Erin Kinghorn eEk! Productions Geoff Goddard Frontside Group Hill Kourkoutis Jamie Sitar Outta Town Sound Julia Train MROC Kiana 'Rookz' Eastmond Sandbox Studios Racquel Villagante SOCAN Uzoma Asagwara QPOC Winnipeg

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