We spoke with Jon Barlett, founder of Kelp Records, and Director of MEGAPHONO, an organization focused on spreading Ottawa-area music to the world, currently holding its second annual showcase of local music. Bartlett is also the Executive Director of the Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations (CCMIA) and sits on the Board of the newly-formed Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC).
Apt613: Where is Ottawa’s music scene going?
Jon Bartlett: I think the scene is doing a lot of self-reflection and, in many cases, starting to find ways to be more inclusive and ensure that everyone gets to participate. I also think that the formation of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition has been a key step in trying to rally artists and music workers together under one roof, so we can share information and help each other on common issues and projects.
Apt613: What does it need to succeed that it doesn’t have at present?
JB: I think more activity, more people working in music as their day jobs, and more artists and music workers getting out of Ottawa to see and learn what music cities and scenes look like abroad. We also need to put Ottawa on the radar by bringing music industry people here to experience our city and artists first-hand.
Sometimes it just takes the right person hearing a band to help break them on a national or international scale. We want to do our best to create the conditions for this to happen, over and over and over again.
Apt613: Tell us about Megaphono.
JB: MEGAPHONO started out 6 years ago as a synch licensing company, pitching music for film and TV. Though placements were slow going, the feedback on the music (mostly from Ottawa) was astounding and reinforced the fact that we have a high-quality music scene here. The gap is telling the story so industry realizes this, so that opportunities are created for artists that could put them on a path to a music career.
MEGAPHONO is a music showcase festival that aims to showcase artists from our region and bring industry in from away to see and hear them. There are shows, but also panels in the day and networking, allowing the artists and those working with them to have real interactions and hopefully make new music industry friends from abroad that they can keep in touch with. Sometimes it just takes the right person hearing a band to help break them on a national or international scale. We want to do our best to create the conditions for this to happen, over and over and over again.
Who do you think the hottest artists are in the city right now?
JB: There are 47 local artists playing at our festival next week. We picked them because we think they’re the hottest.