Meet the MusicWorks Panelists: Joy Balmana, Jen Doerksen, Sheena Rattai

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From left: Jen Doerksen, Joy Balmana, Sheena Rattai

We're heading to Brandon to talk digital strategies on July 15. In partnership with Wall-To-Wall, we're presenting a panel discussion on Social Media, Branding, and Fan-Engagement in Music & Art and Chez Angela Bakery & Café.

We live in a culture where social media has quickly become the world's greatest influencer in terms of engaging fans and building an audience. At a time when our screens are saturated with ads and attention-seekers, being strategic about social media content and branding is more important than ever. We'll be joined by three pros from different perspectives who are doing this work in the field every day. They'll talk about the value of bringing arts communities together for strategic marketing and will teach some of the important tips and tricks for getting the most out of your social media platforms, including hashtags, peak posting times, where and when to post a variety of content, and how to maximize your online presence.

Joy K. Balmana is the Opportunities Coordinator with Synonym Art Consultation and the Account Manager with Winnipeg-based social media company Starling Social. At Synonym, Joy dips her toes into media relations, marketing, social media planning, event coordination, sponsorships with a bit of mural facilitation on the side. Throughout her working and educational career, Joy has always found excitement in uplifting those around her and providing opportunties to artists with incredible talent. Joy has a Bachelor of fine arts from the University of Manitoba and graduated from Red River College's Creative Communications program and has worked on a number of art-focused festivals in Manitoba including Nuit Blanche, Culture Days, and Holiday Alley.

Jen Doerksen is a non-binary freelance photographer and filmmaker with a background in communications and a serious interest in audio engineering. Currently, they're creating digital content for local musicians and non-profits, and work as the assistant editor at Stylus Magazine. They are one of the three people behind BNB Studios, a video channel and photo studio for artists and musicians. They also provide digital marketing and social media management services for artists under the brand Leisure Suite. You can find them at MAKE Coffee + Stuff for mid-afternoon espressos, at the Roost for early evening cocktails, and at almost any concert or art show in the city.

Sheena Rattai is a Winnipeg based singer and songwriter who has toured across Canada, Europe, the UK and parts of the US over the last eight years alongside her musical compadres the Daniels with their folk/roots/pop outfit Red Moon Road. They have released three albums and are preparing to release new music this summer. Sheena spent time studying in both the classical and jazz programs at the U of M and has shared the stage and collaborated with many of Winnipeg’s most accomplished artists and musicians. She has spent the last two years teaching voice at the Manitoba Conservatory of Music and Arts and also teaches violence prevention and social awareness courses to junior high and high school girls through a program called Safeteen. 

Get to know them better with our little Q+A...

If a movie was made of your life what genre would it be, who would play you?

Jen: Oh geez. Maybe a rom com about some person who is married to their job? But then falls in love with someone who also does the same kind of work? I would be Samantha from Sex and the City merged with Ellen Page.

Joy: A Studio Ghibli anime-style food documentary? Food in animes always look so luscious and sparkly. It's how I always hope and imagine my meals look like.

Sheena: My biographical film would definitely fall in to the comedy-drama genre. Most of my life can be summed up with a series of facepalm's. lol And consequently I'd probably be played by someone like Jennifer Lawrence just because she's kind of awkward and falls a lot. 

If you had to delete all but three apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?

Jen: I would keep my texting app (iMessage), Instagram, and the Audio Recording app. 

Joy: Instagram, Youtube (for ASMR listening/watching), Email (is the email button an App?) 

Sheena: Spotify, Instagram, My period tracking app.

What was the worst job you ever had?

Jen: I worked in a retirement home serving lunch for a few months once. Not an awful job, but I think I'm just a worker bee type - have worked at Tim Horton's and spilled garbage juice on my face before 6:30am, and that wasn't the worst. I'd do it again. The old folks home was just a weird management system and little to no real organizational culture. At least at Tim's we all knew how to party.

Joy: A particular food truck that went out of business. It wasn't at all because of the food or work itself, but more like the people who owned the truck.

Sheena: I worked at Eddie Bauer for four months when I was 15. Wasn't a terrible job, just... at the time it felt weird to be a teenage girl trying to sell khaki pants to my grandparents friends. 

Who is your favourite person/company/group to follow on social media and why?

Jen: As of late, Adam Neely. He's a pretty cute bassist in New York that makes educational YouTube videos and shares a lot of his gigging experience on Instagram and I just find the way he talks to be super soothing. It's nice watching someone with such a following still engage in a very personal, face-to-face way. I also really enjoy following @pudgydog on Instagram. They're a local dog-walker in Winnipeg and honestly I'm so here for the daily dog content.

Joy: kickiyangz (Instagram) - She plays with colours, content and occasionally combines her photos and illustrations to create playful narratives while still keeping her fee-style  consistent. 

Sheena: I like to follow my friend Curtis's weird cat on @hangswithhenry (I dislike all other cats). @wildflowersex is a fantastic sex positive, non-binary, education focused account that I really love and think everyone should follow. @theellenshow because I love to laugh and @beyonce for obvious reasons.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given relating to your career in the arts?

Jen: This is a great question. I got a lot of advice while in college doing Creative Communications, but none specifically relating to the arts. I think the biggest, most important piece of advice has been "be nice." The arts industry is a small place, even nationally, and it's very hard to know where things will take you over the course of the years. Being nice is a great step, and also the foundation to what I think is the most important part of being a worker in any industry - relationships. Relationships are everything. Especially in a small industry. Have you heard of the Winnipeg shoulder check?

Sheena: Many years ago now Red Moon Road was about to attend our first Folk Alliance International Music Conference and we were feeling really nervous and overwhelmed and Mitch Podolak offered us this advice "don't go there to book gigs, go there to make friends." It took the pressure off and helped to contextualize what a meaningful connection is. Even if it's about business, if you endeavour to be someone's friend they are far more likely to remember who you are, feel connected to your art and want to work with you in the future. That has always stuck with me. 

Find out more about this workshop and register online

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