Music Lives!

The Birth of Music Lives: A look at where we came from and where we are going

If you didn’t get a chance to check out our first edition of Music Lives print, here’s the story we featured about our history and a look toward the future. Enjoy!

Start with an amazing music scene 

Guelph has always been home to a great local music scene. Whether you’re looking for metal, folk, acoustic, rock, jazz, or any other style of music, Guelph has had live music events to satisfy every genre. And Guelph musicians are proud of their roots. For many, the city is considered a musical hotbed in southern Ontario. Bands and musicians like The ConstantinesRoyal Wood, Jim Guthrie, James Gordon, and King Cobb Steelie all formed in Guelph.

What’s more, Guelph is home to some major festivals. Hillside Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. The three day festival draws fans and musicians from across Ontario. Recently Guelph has added a few more festivals to its roster. This year was Kazoo! Festival’s 6th year running. They expanded to include visual art and multimedia programming with live music and the weekend was a huge success. GAIN Music also ran their 3rd annual festival at Van Gogh’s Ear with 13 bands playing on all three floors of the venue.

The last decade has seen an immense amount of growth in local music. With a few local promoters really digging their heels in, you’d be hard pressed to find any weekend in Guelph where live music doesn’t flood Macdonell Street and the downtown core. Names like GAIN, Fortnight, and Kronik have become well known amongst music fans and have a strong reputation for booking and running the best shows in the area.

downtownguelph

A huge crowd on Macdonnell following the USS with My Son the Hurricane and Fitness Club Fiasco show in 2012.

At the same time, Guelph bands like Mandroid Echostar, Farewell to Freeway, The Greasemarks, and many more are breaking onto the Canadian scene, booking shows all over the province. Guelph local Ambre McLean made top 24 in CBC’s National Searchlight Contest earlier this year. Over the last year, our website has been flooded with band page requests from a host of amazing up-and-coming bands that all sound fantastic. We currently have 60 bands listed on the site, and get requests coming in
every week. For a city with a population under 150,000, that’s huge. Guelph’s musical future is definitely a bright one.

Add two web-loving music geeks

When Aaron and I started Music Lives, we knew we had a good thing going. Initially, we set out to help venues update their own websites, but the message that we got back from owners and staff was that they really didn’t have the time to put into maintaining an active live events section on their own website. We, as live music fans, recognized how important active listings are for a venue. If people don’t know that shows are happening, you’re not going to have a good turn out. There needed to be a better solution to communicate with local fans, venues, promoters, and bands about what events were happening in the city.

Connecting directly with venues has been such a rewarding experience. Not only do we get the scoop on all events that are coming up, but we can get some pretty cool perks too!

Connecting directly with venues has been such a rewarding experience. Not only do we get
the scoop on all events that are coming up, but we can get some pretty cool perks too!

Armed with a goal, the Music Lives team set out to create the ultimate live music listing website. Our goal was to make sure we had the most comprehensive listing in the city so that fans could trust in the information we were posting, and come back for more. We connected with a number of people responsible for booking and promoting shows to make sure we could deliver, and the first version of Music Lives launched in May 2011. The beginnings were rocky. We had a pretty solid core group of visitors that
were awesome at providing ideas and feedback on how we could improve the site and make it better for fans and musicians alike. After testing out message boards, band forums, sponsorships, and a host of other website features, we settled on venue listings, band profiles, an active blog, and, of course, event listings.

Never stop growing

A year later, we found that we were knee deep in the local music industry. Now we had access to input from individuals and organizations across the industry on how we could reallly help promote local events. After some major brainstorming, we released Music Lives 2.0 in May 2012. An updated event calendar and submission forms for bands and events made it into the new site, and we added a monthly newsletter that soon changed to a weekly format to keep people up to date on events happening in town.
Another huge improvement we made was the addition of contributors to our blog. Teresa joined the Music Lives team in April 2012, adding her insight and wit on a weekly basis with Music Mondays. Teresa’s insight and writing brings a new perspective to the blog. Shortly after, Chuck (aka Charlene) started covering local metal shows and reviewing them for the blog. Chuck brings a huge love of metal and loves connecting with bands. Both contributors have helped reach new visitors and music fans
across Ontario. Our blog is now more active than ever, with new content being posted weekly.

Where We Are Now

Freshly pressed and ready to hit the streets.

Freshly pressed and ready to hit the streets.

Since the relaunch of the website in 2012, the team at Music Lives has been on an ongoing quest to help promote local music in new and innovative ways. Aaron is rocking the Facebook and Twitter world, and our blog is drawing in more visitors every day. Earlier this year, we started offering pre-sales for local shows and helped sell out last month’s Misery Signal’s show at Vinyl.

We are always looking for new and innovative ways to help musicians, promoters, and venue owners showcase their live music events. Moving to print is something we have always wanted to do, but never thought we could pull off because of financial and time constraints. After our second anniversary we started talking about how we could cut costs and came up with the idea of buying our own wide format printer. Going the true DIY route meant that we would be able to print off as many or as few copies as were needed, and it also meant that we weren’t going to be tied to any hard deadlines.

In June 2013, we launched a crowd funding campaign to see if enough people loved us enough to help fund the purchase of a printer, ink, and paper. The response was overwhelming and we surpassed our goal. Since then, we’ve been working hard to get fresh content ready for our first official edition of the print version of Music Lives and we couldn’t be more excited to publish this magazine.

Planning for the future

Like live music, Music Lives will never die. We are continually looking for new and innovative ways to help Guelph become the best local live music city in Ontario.

In the next little while, be sure to check out the website. We have a new look coming soon that will make it easier than ever to stay up to date with live events and local music news.

Looking even further down the road, Music Lives has lofty dreams and aspirations for helping new bands, venue owners, and promoters across our city. We will continue to push from the ground up, taking a grassroots and do-it-yourself approach to tackling new initiatives, making some awesome friends along the way.

If you ever want to get involved, gives us a shout at info@musiclives.ca. We love connecting with local music lovers and hearing about what amazing talent this city has to offer. If you ever feel like talking music, we’d love to hear from you.

Cheers,
Kelly

Leave a Comment