KickDrum is a relationship-oriented, non-profit event producer and promoter, based in Montreal, that cares deeply about supporting local music communities.
They’ve worked equitably with over 200 artists/bands and have organized over 130 events since since 2015.
Artists that work with KickDrum aren’t the only ones that benefit either. All production fees go to support local charities and Jam for Justice programming. Learn more about J4J at jamforjustice.org
We asked KickDrum’s Josh Spencer to tell us more about this very cool project.
KickDrum began 3 years ago now. What were the initial aims of the company when it began?
KickDrum started out as a passion project to try and create opportunities for local independent cafes and local independent artists. Instead, it very quickly became an expanding non-profit and community-based event company, which also organized some festivals and a live video series. The aim has always been to support local musicians and give people more opportunities to listen locally; whether that be through catching a live performance or listening to a playlist or live session on YouTube.
In what way do you currently support local artists?
We have an exciting project in the works, which I can’t speak about just quite yet, but currently we organize a weekly outdoor concert series from May to September called the Backyard Sessions at Café Blanc de Blanc, we help to produce and promote events with artists at many established local venues, and we’re starting to put more of a focus on local playlists!
What are the main struggles with promoting music in the current musical climate?
Whether you’re at home, at work or on the go, we now have instant access to every song ever made through our smartphones and platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. These platforms put an emphasis on spotlighting artists who are the most valuable to the platform and have the most sales or streams. This, combined with the fact that people have not yet extended their “buy local” mindset to a “listen local” mindset, means that there is only a limited audience of dedicated music fans who look to attend smaller scale local shows at venues such as Casa del Popolo or Divan Orange (RIP). In my mind, the biggest struggle is that the audience local promoters promote to is fixed and largely made up of those that are already very ingrained in the music community (artists supporting other artists). So, what happens is that there is a “fatigue” within that community, as people can’t go out and catch music every night. Meanwhile, there are thousands and thousands of people in Montréal who love music but only see it live at MTelus or the Bell Centre. So, as a music community, we should be doing everything possible to make people feel welcome and make it easier for them to find local bands/shows they’ll like at these smaller venues. We need to expand the potential audience!
How do you feel about the current music scene in Montreal?
I’ve only been involved in the scene for a little over 3 years, so I’m unable to speak to how it was a decade or two ago, but I think the current music scene is incredibly vibrant! There are well over 1500 local groups that actively perform and release new music. That’s crazy. There are also so many great venues and underground spaces that provide a platform for these groups to be heard. However, Montréal is definitely changing. The closure of Le Cagibi and Divan Orange are a huge blow to the music community. I’ve also heard rumbles about financial troubles at other key venues. Rental prices are rising but the price a venue can charge for a beer or entry at the door is not rising along with it. There will likely be more closures and changes, but the music community is resilient and will respond accordingly. Our music scene is very strong, we just need more people to support it!
Tell us about the kind of events you put on and how people can find out about future events.
We put on events everywhere from intimate 50-capacity café spaces to 300-capacity fully equipped venues such as La Sala Rossa. Historically, we’ve leaned more towards rock, electronic and singer/songwriter music, however, we have put on all sorts of shows and aren’t dedicated to one style or genre. You can find all of our events at https://www.facebook.com/
What local artists do you feel are doing something truly unique or interesting?
Look Vibrant make some of the craziest, most interesting art pop/rock I’ve ever heard. Their music videos are also nuts. They’re releasing a new album on March 23rd and have a launch show on March 29th at La Vitrola. Raveen put out my favourite album of last year “Always” and make the most cinematic and beautiful Electronic/Pop/R&B. Gorgeous vocals and production. Lastly, even though I’ve seen her perform like 10 times, Thanya Iyer seems to have a different arrangement for her songs every time I see her. She just put out this more experimental “Do You Dream? Mixtape” on Topshelf records that’s so jazzy and interesting. The best part about all these artists is that they’re also just great people. Much love!
You recently began a Spotify playlist to make it easy to discover local releases from the last 2 months. How do you choose what music makes the list?
The best part is I barely have to choose! Some releases I hear aren’t quite at the quality I want for the playlist, so I leave those out, but otherwise, I include my favourite song from pretty much any new local release I hear of! I follow hundreds of local artists on social media and Spotify in order to keep up to date on what’s new. The playlist is roughly ordered from newest to oldest and I update it every Friday. Check it out!
What are your goals for the future of KickDrum?
My future goals for KickDrum are to keep on putting on kickass shows and to create more useful resources, which people can use to discover local music!