Toronto based Artist Management and Independent Record Company Coalition Music started in 1991, whose current client roster includes Our Lady Peace, Simple Plan, Finger Eleven and others is using young people’s love of music to make a difference and keep Aboriginal youth in school.
Within the renovated walls of a former convent in Toronto, Eric Lawrence and co-founder Rob Lanni built studios and a performance space in an effort to provide artists a place to create, learn and hone their skills.
Currently they are working with Wasse Abin High School (Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve, Manitoulin Island) and Nbisiing High School (Nipissing First Nation, North Bay) bringing the unique TEMPO learning experience to Northern First Nations youth.
The first exciting accomplishment for two current students in the program will be on display for the entire country to share when sisters Shayne and Taylor May from Wikwemikong Unceded First Nation on Manitoulin Island, will perform their first single “Drowning” on the main stage at APTN’s Aboriginal Day Live and Celebration June 20th in Winnipeg.
TEMPO, a registered charity since 2013, began delivering ‘The Music Business’ high school credit program working in partnership with school boards and Aboriginal communities offering music business education and entrepreneurship programs at the high school level.
The Grade 12 Course has a 50% focus on creative elements like song writing, performance and recording, and a 50% focus on general and music specific business concepts, like law and copyright, marketing, branding, and communications. It is available for students with an interest in music or music industry who have some degree of past musical experience.
As a course feature, all students have an opportunity to record their original songs written in the course at Coalition Music.
Aboriginal youth represent the fastest growing demographic in Canada today with more than 50% of the Aboriginal population being under the age of 25. The socio-economic challenges faced by FN youth — from education, suicide, isolation and systemic racism — place them in a situation of greater socio-economic needs.
The primary message is that musicians/recording artists/songwriters are more than entertainers — they are starter companies and they face the same challenges and obstacles as any other small business.
Students also coordinate a culminating live music event in their respective communities to showcase the music they’ve written through performance, and to implement the entrepreneurial and music industry knowledge they have accumulated over the course of the semester. In 2014, the Wasse Abin ‘Music Business’ class’ live music event, called Rezfest named by the kids at Wiki, sold out the local arena with over 400 community members in attendance.