11 Feb Interview with City & Colour, The Sheepdogs Manager: Joel Carriere of Bedlam and Dine Alone
In this interview we find out:
- How Joel began managing each client
- How he keeps his artists happy
- Business strategies
- The biggest lesson he’s learned
- And much more!
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When Joel Carriere was young he toured around North America as a BMX racer. Through travelling, Joel was exposed to a variety of genres of music and before he knew it he became an avid music promoter, sharing the songs and artist he liked most with his friends back home.
After attending Niagara College for business and marketing studies, Joel’s career spiralled into independence after working jobs at a record store and record labels.
Joel is the owner and investor in many entities including Bedlam Music Management, Dine Alone Records, New Damage Records, Dine Alone Foods and more. Over the years, Joel’s management client roster has included JUNO Award-Winning artists including City and Colour, Alexisonfire, Monster Truck, The Sheepdogs, Bedouin Soundclash, Arkells and Attack in Black.
Can you tell us about how and when you began managing each of your clients?
ALEXISONFIRE / CITY AND COLOUR
I was there on the ground swell when Alexisonfire was put together. I was friends with Dallas and was helping him out with his old band. In addition to that I also worked at a record store, promoted shows, DJ’d at a club and had a stint at a major label as well as some rich guys hobby indie label. At the same time I was developing Bedlam Society, which turned into an important vehicle for the growth of both Alexisonfire and my companies.
Through the local scene, I was familiar with all the soon-to-be members of AOF’s other bands and was fans of those individual kids. I know Wade really lead the charge in putting AOF together but we were all involved in some way or another in the early days of the band. At that time I had no clue what a music manager was, it kind of sounded evil to me. I was a dude that was dedicated to my teenaged friends and just saw something special – and it was fun as hell.
I had been promoting shows with Distort Entertainment and the owner was starting a record label and wanted to sign Alexisonfire. At this point I became AOF’s manager and that was around 2000-2002.
For obvious reasons this lead to me managing Dallas’ solo career. However I had been working with Dallas for a couple years before Alexisonfire. We worked at the same mall together and shared the same passion for music.
Jordan from Alexisonfire was telling us about Monster Truck around the time of Monster Truck’s first few shows. We knew all the guys in the band but just hadn’t got out to see them yet. Jordan was a really big fan and was telling us that it was in our wheelhouse of music. I had a hard time believing the guys from The Reason would be writing music that could feed my rock n roll appetite.
In addition to Jordan, Nathan who was a manager at our company was good friends with a couple of them. Between Nathan’s friendship, Jordan’s enthusiasm and having finally gotten to see the band a couple times, we ended up working together.
I don’t recall the moment we all agreed to collaborate on their career together but I am sure it was over several beers and a rad brainstorming session. I feel uncomfortable soliciting bands so it usually is done over drinks and very late nights.
My friend Jeff Leake was a pretty big fan of The Sheepdogs and one day after work, Jeff had a master plan for the band and I to meet. I had far too many things going on but Jeff called me and told me his kid missed me and wanted me to come over. Of course I was going to change plans for her. What he didn’t tell me was that he had arranged for The Sheepdogs to come over as well so we could meet.
I met those guys and we connected immediately. I still had no clue about their music but I picked up that they were solid, nice dudes that had been working on their own for 7 years without much support. I don’t know many bands that hold it together that long without any kind of forward movement.
I overheard them looking for places to stay outside the city and then offered up my office. I gave them the key and gave them the code and said we would connect in the morning for breakfast. The following day I got to the office and they had to bail quickly. They had left me a copy of their vinyl record on my chair. I loved that this band went to the lengths to still press wax on their own. I listened to the record that day and it kind of blew my mind. Ryan and I began speaking and our company starting helping them out following that.
I was a pretty big fan of Bedouin Soundclash from the moment I promoted a show with them in St.Catharines opening for General Rudie. I spoke with the drummer at the time and brought them back to play the festival I was running called SCENE Music Festival. The song ‘When The Night Feels My Song’ felt like a hit song to me. I had put it on our SCENE music sampler and then later used it on my Bedlam Society music sampler. The singer and I struck up a friendship and he called asking questions here and there. I ended up flying them in to play with Alexisonfire because I loved their music that much. At a show in St.Catharines I was promoting they approached me and said that they were looking for new management and really liked what I had done with Alexisonfire and with everything else I was doing. A couple days later I started managing one of my favourite new bands.
The Arkells were called Charlemagne when I had met them. We were at The Dakota Tavern after we had just had our Attack in Black CD release party there. The owner of The Dakota came up and gave me their EP and said he thought I would love it. He was right and I immediately got in touch with the band via MySpace. I knew exactly what to do with this band.
They organized a show at The Dakota Tavern for us to see them play and I had brought an agent friend to come check them out, who ended up becoming their agent. That night they came over to my house and a couple of us got really drunk. We vibed each other out and then shortly thereafter I was managing them.
ATTACK IN BLACK
They were all in hardcore punk bands in St.Catharines. I had promoted the shows of all those guys several times and we were all aware of each other. I noticed their music developing every time I saw them and just fell in love with them. We all met at the Kilt and Clover in Port Dalhousie and I gave them my overall plans and ideas, they gave me theirs and we seemed to be on the same page. Days later we were working together and plotting out their path.
How do you ensure you keep your artists happy, and on your roster?
The thing about artists as a whole is they are never really happy. When you pour soooo much of yourself into your art, it can be draining, not just physically from the touring schedule and performances but emotionally, from having to give it your all – all the time. Some people drain a bit more than others and don’t know how to refill.
It feels like our companies are on a global map these days and are widely respected. We are upfront, honest, hardworking people that have lots of connections. We don’t love dealing with bullshit and will call you out on it. If you’re a band and like those vibes then we should be good together. If you don’t then it’s not going to be a pleasant experience.
For now, I am very interested in building out the Bedlam Mgmt Company versus taking on more new bands to my personal roster. I see things from a bird’s-eye view and it’s hard when you deal with people that can only see the step in front of them. I know I will take on more in the future but I do enjoy helping out the young managers and providing a platform for them to grow as managers. I love being involved on the side with all their bands and helping them grow with their artists.
How long did it take until you were able to become a full time business owner?
I have a hard time remembering these timelines but can remember the series of events that lead me to this. Starting with a manager at Sunrise Records being a dick and me telling him to fuck off and walking out, to my label boss asking me to work on projects that were so awful that I just got up and thanked him for the opportunity and left. The growth of Alexisonfire, my show promotions, Bedlam Society coinciding with my other jobs made me aware that I was destined to be an entrepreneur. I am pretty sure I was on my own early on in my career, maybe around 2004.
When you first signed each artist to management, what are the first things you got down to business on? Do you have a strategy in place?
All the bands I mentioned we took on when no one else cared or no one else knew about them. It really becomes an overall big picture in development. It starts regional and we make plans to go global from there. Each band is different and requires a different outlook and a different finesse.
Now with a roster of managers we all collectively share input; it’s a very strength in numbers type of situation we have. Very opposite from when it was just me on my own. However, similar in the fact that my ego never got in the way of me asking questions about things I didn’t know.
How do you think your business will change most dramatically in the next several years?
I am an independent entrepreneur. I got into the music business when it was changing at a rapid pace. Our companies have to be able to either be ahead of the curve, be able to adjust to the curve or realize there needs to be a curve where no one else saw one. Our business has grown into five record labels, a management company, a food company, investments into tech companies, restaurants and more. We have done this with no investors and limited outside consultation.
I envision our companies turning into a full service entertainment entrepreneurial company that can always make its way through whatever climate the business is in. I like the concept of having an idea and being able to run with it if I want. We were the first in Canada to SMS text our fans on tour, we were the first in Canada to offer USB’s in our packaging, we were the first to change the landscape of a concert by using Bluetooth beacons, we were the first to bring Nashville-style Hot Chicken to Canada and I hope to have more of those stories.
What’s THE best lesson you’ve learned over the years?
I learn new ones often and they can change as I grow as a person. Over the last few years I have learned to take time for myself. I used to think everything would fall apart if I weren’t around. I used to think that if I weren’t always out that I would disappear – but you can lose perspective on why we are here if you live like that.
We are here to push forward, professionally and personally. I wasn’t pushing myself forward personally and that wasn’t making for the best me. I fell in love with a girl and had my first child, which is my greatest accomplishment ever. I wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t change my way of thinking. I now go to the gym four days a week, its only four hours a week for me to take care of myself and keep me the best me.
I have also learned not to project my expectations onto others. I have high expectations from a lot of people and it leaves me disappointed more often than not. I have learned to really figure out who the other person is, accept who they are and understand what they may expect from me. It makes for a better existence.
If you had to attribute your success as an artist manager to 1 skill what would it be?
This is the thing; it’s not one skill. It’s hundreds of skills that all come together that can help you see from a bird’s-eye view what needs to get done. Not everyone is a good manager, not everyone is a great business owner, and not everyone is meant to run a label. It takes multiple skills to be able to manage all this successfully. This isn’t really a skill but more of a realization. I am not the smartest guy in the room, I can’t handle everything, but I know who is and I know how to all make them work together for a common goal.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were a brand new manager?
I never really enjoy these hypothetical questions, they don’t make sense to me. I am here now, I love now and I am always looking forward to what’s next. Life comes with so many ups and downs and it’s how you use those to define yourself moving forward.
What resources – for example, websites, blogs, magazines – do you read to keep current?
Everything around me keeps me current. From our interns, to my best friends, to NME, to Facebook, to RDIO, to Spotify, to my overall enthusiasm for music. I have created a life around me full of people that are in love with music.
What’s a great strategy tip that’s worked for you that you could share with us?
This is more of a tip for soon to be managers – don’t talk about other clients to whatever client is in front of you at the moment. Don’t talk about your personal business unless they ask, and if so keep it vague. As cool as a client can be, as close as you may be with them, they don’t need to know your time is divided, they just want to know about themselves. It’s a little less personal than the way I like to run but it makes for less hassle in the future.
Check out more of Joel’s businesses at dinealonerecords.com