Long rest the days when artists had no greater worry than what to wear on stage, today they live in a time of 360* deals and where self-promotion is the only promotion. As an independent artist, touring a state/province is not only costly, but also difficult to accommodate, plan and achieve. So, how did four independent artists from across Canada manage to acquire a nation-wide tour sponsored by Via Rail? They played their cards right and worked hard as hell.
Introducing Muneshine, Timbuktu, Jeff Spec and Ghettosocks: four hip-hop artists from various parts of Canada, four artists with different personalities, four artists who just work. As a collective, the group has manifested an idea into a nation-wide tour entitled the “Train of Thought” tour, playing in any province the Via Rail trains travel – oh yes, and these trains are their primary transportation, not just a sponsoring name. It should be noted, however, that every show played has been booked by the group, not a publicist, not a manager, but by the artists themselves. It’s everyone’s job to maintain the tour, and with 26 shows, you best believe that’s been one hell of a ride.
And if you’re wondering how they landed a deal with Via Rail, Ghettosocks and Muneshine simply worked out a deal. The same could be said for other sponsoring partners like Converse, who have donated goodie giveaways, American Apparel, or Molson Coors (in the Atlantic shows.) So, when asked the main reasons why people should reach out and see one of these shows, the following was said: 1) almost all tickets have been under $20, 2) merchandise tables (which have been seriously successful) sell merch you can actually afford, and 3) not a single show is the same as the last. These guys feed off the crowd, and depending on that crowd, it’s a no holds bar event; Jeff Spec even recounting his reenactments of scenes from the movies Fear of the Black Hat and CB4 during one show. Muneshine chimed in saying, “It’s about not giving [the audience] a minute to be disinterested.”
If you talk a good talk, and actually come prepared with a business plan, and most importantly, are professional, it’s seems as if a lot could be achieved. It’s important to note that a deal isn’t waiting for you; you have to work your way towards it. These guys said it best; Canadian hip-hop lacks the formal national tours. Though, Jeff spoke out on the Canadian music industry, specifically hip-hop industry, having “a racist infrastructure.” He also noted that there’s “no general support for black music,” making MuchMusic’s claims of their early target audiences being between the ages of 28-35; an age group outside of rap music, his prime example. I’m glad he said that, because upon first glace, many people think, “four white guys, of course they got a tour.” Nah, it’s because they’ve made strategic strides to change this infrastructure.
Independent tours are the new way of touring, but it doesn’t come without its hardships. Health issues sleep deprivation, lack of substantial food, and ultimately – the hangovers, while having to still work through them, have hit these four artists hard, but it hasn’t faulted their success on this tour. To all the independent artists, take your careers in your own hands – if something isn’t being done the way you want it to, get it done by your own hands. If I’ve learned anything from these guys, your greatest achievements and most rewarding successes are done when you put all that you have into it. Each member of this tour has agreed that success is subjective and that making music that lasts and isn’t a trending topic on Twitter, is the greatest accomplishment an artist could have.
Ghettosocks, Muneshine, Timbuktu and Jeff Spec wrap up their tour December 12th, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be around. Everyone is continuously working on music and doing shows, even squeezing in studio time during the tour. If you can’t catch them this time around, they’ll be back – but to hold you over, check out the Via-Rail sponsored mixtape, mixed by Muneshine, entitled “Train of Thought” here: www.droppinscience.bandcamp.com.