Reflecting on my first-year in Music Industry Arts


This year I started in the music industry arts (MIA) program at Fanshawe and in one year I learned a lot about myself, my interests, and got to think a lot about what could be my place in the music industry.

Working in the music industry is an exciting challenge and there are so many more jobs that exist out there than I ever could have previously imagined. In my artist development classes this year I had to get a textbook called The Canadian Music Industry Primer by Terry McManus, and in it the author explains that for most people music is an essential part of their lives, from soundtrack in the background of your life to the most poignant form of expression of many life events. McManus is realistic about the fact that the music industry is an exciting prospect and worth working in while acknowledging that today’s industry is very multifaceted. That’s why Chapter One of his book is literally titled, “Finding your Place.”

In the pursuit of finding my place in the industry, I found that I was most comfortable working on productions and making compositions more than anything. I feel most creative when I can workshop a song through a bunch of ideas at a wall and when I look at every session’s bigger picture. I love making up a piano part, I love layering instruments, I love hearing something unique and discovering that it works on a song. I find it fun to collaborate with other musicians because I always find myself hearing them play something unexpected rather than the same ideas that play in my head all the time. In those collaborative situations, I even find myself writing musical ideas that would have never entered my mind if I never met the friends I made in this program, which makes me all the more grateful for this past year’s experience.

Listen live on

I’ve gained an appreciation for engineering with the console this year, it was a new experience for me coming from working solely on a computer or performing in bands. Although it can be scary when something breaks because I’m acutely aware of how expensive all the equipment is. Despite that, I learned how to take technical problems in stride and be adaptable.

For all the serotonin I gained from those experiences, I also learned that I can’t do everything all at once. I’ve dipped my toe in stuff like lighting, live sound, and doing artists and repertoire (A&R). However, there’s always more value you’ll get from someone who puts their eggs in fewer baskets because they know what they’re capable of handling and I learned from my peers how to straddle that line and find what I can do that is of value to others.

Since last year, I learned how to better execute on my time management strategies and make meaningful priorities. Additionally, I feel like if I’m working in an industry that relies on the fact that I enjoy the work I do I should make sure I’m not intentionally accelerating myself towards burnout. Maintaining those principles have helped steer me through the year.

A memorable experience I had recently in one of my classes was when my professor told us a story related to an experience he had with another producer whose method in the studio would be to replace musicians in a band with session musicians if the original musicians couldn’t play the part in the studio because, ‘If the musician can’t play, get better musicians.’ I remember that story because my professor called that cruel and stated that the band would surely be much happier working with you if you found a way to help that musician to express themselves in the studio than to wryly dismiss them for “sucking at their job.” On the other hand, some musicians don’t like working in the studio and would be happy to have someone take that job for them so they can just perform with their band live. Musicians are multifaceted and everyone has a different preference to the way they’d like to get things done.

I feel like that story really helped humanize musicians in the industry for me because it’s clear that everyone wants to do well (make good music), earn a living, and have a good time at work just like any other job in the world. Not everyone is an incredible talent and you don’t need to always be the best in the world at your job to have a chance to work your job.

All kinds of people can make it in this industry and have made it, it’s just all about being aware of what you’re getting into and accepting what that means.