For any musician that has ever stepped into a recording studio, you know how difficult it can be to nail every part perfectly. Bryan Rason apparently doesn’t have that problem. When I started browsing his YouTube videos, the first thing I noticed was that there wasn’t a mistake or edit anywhere in these videos. Any man who has dedicated enough time to perfect their craft deserves a place as one of our Featured Artists.
Q: You’ve done something a lot of musicians on this side of the pond dream of doing, and toured through Europe. How did it go? How different is the music scene out there? Any advice for those of us looking to make the trek anytime soon?
Well as any musician that has tried to make a living, or still is, they know it takes a bit of time to get the finances in the green. So staying local is the safest bet, but I find too much exposure constantly in one spot isn’t going to work. People get sick of you… haha! So you have to expand, which is where your question comes to hand. Setting up tours… the tour in Europe was a great experience in many ways. I found people were really responsive to the fact that I was playing internationally (from Canada). Europe was beautiful and the people are soooo helpful, including the musicians. I had DJ’s lend me their live equipment just cause they could, people dancing and singing along, it was great. The hardest thing I think about touring is the traveling itself. Make sure you’re very organized. Plan on things going wrong, but don’t worry about it, just be smart about it. For example, make sure your guitar(s) have a solid case cause airports don’t care if it’s expensive. They will be thrown around and they might even loose it on. Ya…. that happens more than it should.
Q: How did you put the tour together? What did you do to handle booking? Funding?
The tour came together in a few different ways. First and foremost my manager helped a lot. She did 90% of the organizing – i.e. paper work, bookings, places to stay, emailing many bars/restaurants. Some shows I put together through friends that I have over there. Ben Powell put one show together in Bath. He advertised. We also had a friend of his, David Mead, open for us (David used to be an editor for “Guitar Techniques”). My manager and I stayed at Ben’s house in Bath, so that saved a lot of money. We also had another artist open for us at a different show (Josh RiderA contract between a performance venue and an entertainer detailing the terms and conditions of a performance. Items covered include performance length, compensation (i.e. travel expenses, lodging), profit share, and payment.). Most of the time in Europe, we stayed at my manager’s family’s house. So that saved some good money. I find a lot in the finger-style community artists stay well connected and help each other out as much as possible, cause we all know how hard it is to make a living. We also met up with some friends in Germany for a bit, i.e. Adam Rafferty. We were going to do some shows together but I had to get back to Canada.
Q: At the end of last year, you became partners with YouTube. What exactly does that entail?
Being a partner with YouTube gives you the ability to make a little money with advertisements, but I don’t use them cause they just annoy me. TV has enough commercials as it is.
Things have changed so much with YouTube it’s hard to keep track of what’s what, ya know. But I do remember that I wanted to have a banner on my main YouTube page, and being a partner allows you to do that.
Q: You’ve been endorsed by both Stonebridge Guitars and K&K Sound for a while now. Did you approach them, or did they approach you? What tips would you have for anyone talking to a company about an endorsement deal?
I had a lot of videos up already at the time when the endorsement deals started to happen. Roger at Stonebridge Guitars was looking to advertise and get the word out that he was dealing the guitars in North America. He liked what he saw in my playing, so he offered me a deal. At that point I had already done some gigs with Antoine Dufour and some other CandyRat artists… so I guess that helped. I went to Kitchener, Ontario, to his office, and left with a guitar that day. I couldn’t wait! It wasn’t until a year and a half later that I got K&K’s installed in my Stonebridge. These ones I bought before I got the Stonebridge. I had installed K&Ks into my Martin 000-15. As time went on, I got a little more confident, and business smart, so I contacted Dieter at K&K (the owner) and asked if I could make a video for him showing the “Quantum Trinity System” and he agreed to equipment payment (some pre-amps), so I did it.
I’m in the process of doing a song arrangement for his as we speak. If you’re looking for endorsements, have a professional look online and in person. If you take yourself seriously, and have some good content, they will take you seriously. And don’t be afraid of them saying, “No,” cause there are many products out there and it doesn’t mean that it won’t happen in the future. Just make sure you keep in contact and be really nice. Don’t be rude if you don’t get what you want. It’s a small world, and stuff gets around.
Q: Your new record, Follow Your Bliss, is also available in Tab form. That’s not something you see every day. How has that worked out? What inspired you to offer tabs as well?
The reason why I offer tabs for my songs is cause I wanted as many different mediums as possible to make a living. I really liked what Robert Poland (owner of Candyrat Records) was doing with his presentation of his artists, and I wanted that. So I did the best I could to do that. And I’m still adding things and bettering myself every day. It’s a lot of work, and you need many different minds to treat your art as a business. It’s hard, but very worth it if you can stick it out. The tabs are going well.
Q: What made you forego looking for a record deal and just do everything yourself? Would you ever consider signing? What would you expect of a record deal?
I have been approached by 2 different record companies for a deal, and both of them were very one sided. I for sure could use some help in some areas, but I will not sell my creative control to anyone. The reason why I do music is to help people through their day, and I just love it. I need to be myself, and I can’t be myself when someone is telling me to be someone else, ya know? There are companies out there that I would deal with cause they have great stuff to offer and they are fair and experienced with artists like me.
Q: What words of advice do you have for other independent musicians?
I would tell other artists to make sure you love what you do, cause you will not become rich overnight. No artist does. It takes a good 10 years before you really benefit from your hard work. And you can’t do it alone. Surround yourself with similar artists and learn what to/what not to do. Follow the ideas of the people you look up to, cause they are not established by chance. They put things in place and grew over time. If you believe in something then don’t listen to what other people say. Follow Your Bliss!