For this artist spotlight we’re heading up to Ontario, where Braden Barrie is finding independent success as the one-man acoustic act SayWeCanFly. He’s toured the U.S. and Canada, building a loyal fan base through music intended to inspire power and a never-give-up attitude. We had a chance to talk to the driven artist about what has helped him along the way, how he’s booked his tours, and why he partners with TuneCore for both Distribution and Publishing Administration.
What does being independent mean to you?
Being independent means doing absolutely everything I possibly can to reach my goals and advance my art. It means that no matter what anyone thinks, says, or does, I will always walk forward and find a way to do what I need to do. I honestly believe that working for myself and finding the right team of individual people is the most efficient way to work toward where I want to be as an artist, and as a person. Being independent is cutting out the middle man wherever I can, and finding better and more direct ways to get my music out to the world.
How would you describe the indie scene in Canada? Is it large? Diverse? Is there a real community?
I know so many independent artists, along with myself, who are trying to “make it” in the industry. It feels to me that in this day and age, unless you truly commit every waking moment to your art, it will be nearly impossible to swim to the top. There are so many people trying to do the same thing here, that you really need to make yourself stand out in order to catch the attention of others. That certainly is not to say that there isn’t a very diverse community of talented and passionate musicians over here. There are constant local shows, and everyone knows everyone in this scene, which makes it feel kind of small. I really enjoy the Canadian music scene because it’s easy to make friends, and there seems to be respect between artists.
You’ve completed several DIY-booked tours. Can you explain what the process was like (how you chose cities, found venues, etc.)?
I actually had a booking agent (now one of my close friends) start booking my tours. He found me on Facebook after I played my first show in my hometown, and sent me a message asking if he could book me a little tour through Ontario. I guess it just comes down to finding the venue and promoter contacts, and sending lots of emails. It was really nice having someone else take care of this because at that point I really didn’t know anything about this business, or the music scene here.
You’ve worked with Trey from The Icarus Account (another TuneCore Artist)—what was that like? Is it important for you to work with other indie or pro-indie artists?
I really do think that networking is the key to success in any business or art. Working with new people and showing interest in their work allows room for friendships and working relationships to develop. The Icarus Account was one of my inspirations as a kid, so to eventually become friends with these guys through the internet was really cool. It was nice to create something with a group I looked up to for their independence.
How’s TuneCore part of your team?
TuneCore has literally allowed me to start and continue my career as a musician. Although I don’t think money should ever be the sole motivation for doing something we love, it is definitely important. Being a musician and constantly having to create new content gets expensive, and TuneCore has allowed me to make a living out of something I love doing. This in turn allows me to continue doing it. I actually found out about TuneCore by asking the guy who worked at my local record shop (when that still existed) how bands put music on iTunes, and I immediately saw an amazing opportunity for my music.
Do you use the trend reports and sales reports in your account to learn from and grow your brand?
One of the first things I do when I wake up (aside from pouring myself a cup of coffee) is open my browser and look at my daily trend report. This allows me to keep very close track of my song sales, and gauge how SayWeCanFly is doing as a whole on the internet. If social media numbers are not resulting in song sales, then I know I have to do something different. It’s an easy way to test new marketing strategies and see the results the next day. This is one of the most useful tools that we as musicians have access to. As for sales reports, this is incredibly useful for keeping track of income for tax purposes, which is also an important thing to keep in mind when looking at your music as a business.
Why did you decide to partner with TuneCore for Publishing Administration?
I decided to partner with TuneCore for Publishing Administration to cover all of my bases. It’s just nice to know online royalties will be taken care of, and also that my songs will automatically be registered with SOCAN. It simply saves me some worry for a very affordable cost. It is also nice to know YouTube revenue will be taken care of, and there is no room for any copyright issues because everything is registered and protected under my name.
What one tip would you give to other indie artists looking to grow their careers?
My best advice to anyone is to learn, observe, and stay active. People are constantly on the internet, which means musicians need to be there as well. The MOST important thing to me is interacting with the people who listen to my music after they hear it. Grow a relationship with your followers, and allow them to become your friends. Remember how important they are, and make sure they always know it. Keep your content fresh, and don’t take a day off unless you feel like you can afford it. If you aren’t tweeting people about your music, someone else is tweeting those people about theirs.
What (or who) has helped you along the way?
My followers have been the biggest help so far. They show me that my music actually means something to someone, which truly gives me a reason to continue. As much as writing songs makes me feel better about my existence on this earth, it still became a whole different story when I realized people actually wanted to hear what I had to say. My friends have been incredibly supportive as well, and if they hadn’t driven me on my first few tours and been willing to come on my adventures, I don’t know where I would be. I also believe that goal setting and positive thinking are the source of longevity. Letting negativity or doubt come between you and your passion is dangerous.
You’re currently recording your first full length album. What can fans expect?
I really do feel like this album is the one I have been waiting to record for years. I actually answered these questions right after getting back from the studio, and I have to say, I have never felt so connected to my art as I have since I started tracking this album. The record contains 16 songs, and tells my story. I really like that writing songs makes me vulnerable to others. I like being honest with everyone about the mistakes I have made, the struggles I have faced, and the darkness I have overcome. I really just wrote about the thoughts and events that being a human being on this earth has presented me with so far.
I’m bringing this one back to acoustic roots, and I guess I could describe it using the word “emo.” I really hope everyone likes it, and I will of course be releasing it through TuneCore. Thanks again for allowing me to work for myself and grow closer to my goals as an artist in the music business.