New or Mid-Career Musicians in Hamilton
The City of Hamilton is proudly home to a significant number of musicians. Whether you are starting out as a new musician/band or are looking to expand your career or business as a musician – here’s some information and tips to help you navigate the music scene.
Frequently Asked Questions
Clear communication and doing your research are key. Make sure you have researched the venue, music series, or festival. Get to know local venues and festivals – attend shows and music events and chat with staff and other musicians. Determine if there’s a fit with your music and experience or have a solid pitch as to what you/your band will bring to the event or venue. When you are emailing, messaging, or applying to perform make sure you include a short bio that makes it clear who you and/or your band are. Most venues and specifically music venues want to see that you can perform (have experience) and the ability to draw a crowd. A few ways to demonstrate this is by sharing links to previous performances and sharing some stats about your social media followings – these elements are also referred to as an Electronic Press Kit (EPK). An EPK (recordingarts.com/how-to-make-a-press-kit/ ) includes your bio, photos, social media assets, logo, media coverage, tour posters and history, videos etc.
When looking to apply to be part of a music festival line up; local festivals often have a Call for Musicians or Artist Application available on their websites - typically 9 to 10 months before the festival.
For additional tips and info about getting on stage you can watch a video from a previous Musician Conference session:
There are a few websites where you can post your show/event for free and potentially reach a new audience:
- Hamilton Arts Council’s tool: www.theartycrowd.ca has an event listing
- Hometown Hub (local platform): hometownhub.ca/signup/
- Song Kick - www.songkick.com
- All Events - allevents.in/hamilton/concerts
- To Do Canada - www.todocanada.ca
Connecting with local music blogs such as:
While we strongly recommend musicians get paid for their performances; when a musician/band is starting out they need to practice performing before they start receiving payment. A few ways to practice with an audience is via open mic nights and even small street performances . Hamilton has a few cafes/coffee shops that offer open mic nights and occasionally one or more music venues offer this opportunity, too. It’s a good idea to record these performances so you can review and also share with potential venues when you start asking about paid gigs.
There are a number of different funding opportunities or grants all with different application deadlines. A few programs include the City’s Enrichment Fund Arts Stream, FACTOR , Ontario Arts Council, Ontario Creates, etc. Review these sites annually and put the deadlines in your calendar as many of the applications are due only once per year.
For an overview and insights on funding opportunities and musicians’ experiences checkout one of the Musician Conference discussion panels
Get out there and connect with people in Hamilton’s music industry (musicians, record stores, venues, festivals, event organizers, and other creatives). Connect online and in-person. Hamilton is a very collaborative community and happy to share advice and pitfalls of navigating a career in music. There are a number of networking and professional development events in Hamilton such as the annual Musician Conference and the Creative Exchange networking event. Most professional development opportunities are free and posted on platforms like Eventbrite.
Consider getting involved with local music or arts organizations such as Hamilton Musicians Guild, Hamilton Arts Council, Hamilton Music Collective , Mohawk College Music, McMaster Music Program, Music and the Mind Institute/LIVE lab etc.
Take a look at the www.theartycrowd.ca as you can post profiles, events, and find jobs and calls for art.
We encourage you to not only think of yourself as an artist but as an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you’ll need to learn or access business skills and resources. It’s also beneficial to network and connect with other people across the music industry and even with artists in Creative Industries (film, visual arts, live performance, written and published works, fashion etc.). Here are a few resources to assist Hamilton-based musicians/bands in expanding their business and careers:
- Attend the annual Musician Conference www.hamilton.ca/musicianconference
- Apply for the Indie Musician Development Program www.hamilton.ca/musiciandevelopmentprogram
- Review resources and supports from the Business Enterprise Centre https://investinhamilton.ca/hamilton-business-centre
- Follow @hamiltonecdev for professional development and networking events
- Listen to these two (2) videos for marketing tips for musicians and bands:
While there are a number of factors to consider a starting point for newer musicians are the minimum rates established by the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) who are locally represented by the Hamilton Musician’s Guild. The CFM usually annual shares different rates for various types of work.
You can also watch a video exploring the topic of knowing your worth as a musician, which was part of the 2021 Musician Conference.
As a Hamilton-based musician/band you also have a great selection of recording studios to choose from such as Catherine North Studios , Threshold Recording, Boxcar Studios, Halo Recording Studios, Grant Avenue, Studio 410, ARC Studio etc.