dirk who?

You’ve probably heard me rant about him on various occasions, or have had to endure my endless promotion of his warm songs from Late Nite Reworks or Camino Real. His name is Dirk Swartenbroekx, a.k.a DJ Buscemi, from Belgium.

I’ve had the opportunity to interview him, as well as other successful producers from Europe and the U.S, who’ve all repeatedly expressed the desire to come to Canada to perform. These are artists who’ve done extremely well in their home countries, but like many others in their generation, have all found it difficult to cross over to Canada. Or when they are brought in to perform, they aren’t promoted at all – and people miss out!

So when I asked a few Toronto promoters why these popular artists aren’t brought in for more events, they’ve all drawn me the same dismal picture. The consensus is, “It’s just not worth it.” It would be a profitable venture, as there is general interest in their music, it’s simply that the incentive to heavily promote is lacking. I say surely, there’s room for a couple more! Or is there? How can successful artists gain publicity in a city where the market is a little undefined? If the answer is, “you just don’t,” then what is this saying about our music industry?

Visit Buscemi at:



8 thoughts on “dirk who?

  1. Sean Sax says:

    Unless you are a rock band, it’s hard for CANADIAN artists to get promoted in Canada, much less foreign ones. Think about it. How many hip-hop acts were big in Canada before they were anywhere else? R&B? Electronic?

    Outside of rock and pop, the musical sensibilities of most Canadians is slooooow. I’ve lost enough money bringing up quality acts to empty venues to know that’s a fact. I’ve seen enough TALENTED Canadian artists forever mired in obscurity to know it’s a fact. I’ve had enough well thought out and well presented sponsorship proposals rejected to know it’s a fact.

    My serious, SERIOUS advice to all artist out the worldwide making “alternative” forms of music; spend your efforts making a name for yourself in the UK, Japan, Sweden, Italy, USA, etc. FIRST. Once ANOTHER country co-signs that you’re legit, Canadians will jump on your bandwagon quicker than a cop on a day old donut. And, yes, sadly enough that advice goes for Canadian artists making “alternative” music as well.

  2. Lisa Caroline Leung says:

    It’s also quite expensive and bothersome for some artists to be promoted here. There are a lot of laws governing merchandise for example, which makes it not worthwhile for the artist to promote here, monetarily.
    It’s quite unfortunate.

  3. Frank Litorco says:

    The proliferation of readily available music on fantastic internet blogs like O-Dub’s Soul Sides, on social networking/viral sites like myspace and YouTube, on streaming audio sites such as BBC’s Radio One, and on the artists’ own websites means there’s that much more music to find and enjoy online. To a music lover like myself, this is truly a blessing. I can take in some great, unsigned hip hop artists from San Francisco/Oakland as easily as I can listen to mind-bending, experimental music from Iceland. The internet has broken down all sorts of boundaries that existed before, the least of which is that it didn’t require the artists to be played on the limited medium that is (terrestrial) radio.

    I don’t subscribe to the idea that it requires a lot more money nowadays to hype a show in town, either, just like I have no sympathy for money-losing record labels and their stodgy, conventional ways of doing business. It’s obvious that artists and promoters must learn to adapt in this dawning of the digital age. This doesn’t mean that artists are spared the responsibility of TOURING (and working hard to make good music – it goes without saying), nor does it mean that local promoters don’t have to spread the word. What it does mean is that they have to utilize the same “tools” that listeners use to access music these days. And utilize them in a creative, attention-grabbing fashion (see Radiohead, Lily Allen, Prince, Public Enemy’s Chuck D., et al).

    I also believe that Canadian artists can still make it big and get recognized in Canada before making it big elsewhere. One needs to look no further than indie-darling Feist, as an example. Or how about Buck 65? Or K-OS? Or… well, you get the picture.

    Bottom line is that there’s more music out there than anyone has time to listen to, and those artists and promoters who know how to take advantage of the new ways to grab the attention of their target audience, will be the ones who thrive.

  4. Cheyenne says:

    I agree with Frank in that there are so many outlets and opportunities to enjoy great music. I am always exploring new podcast streaming sites or internet radio and it fulfills my curiosity. Unfortunately this increases my urge to go out and spend a whole afternoon at a record shop and rack up my VISA. I think it is up to promoters to utilize these outlets. The market is there.
    As for Canadian talent (there are many), it is difficult to establish yourself as a notable artist in Canada first (K-OS, and BUCK 65 aside). I have seen and heard the frustrations among Canadian artists not being able to gather a crowd at a small pub, but overseas they’re able to sell out shows. This makes me wonder is this due to poor promotion?

  5. chipper HO says:

    dirk…infamous dirk…
    too bad he never will come to canada…
    i know yould be there in a heart beat…

    music industry…i dont know a thing…
    but i agree theres little of an industry here..
    being in londonUK now…
    that seems more plausible…

    like how canada labels em indie (unknown in a sense) bands from canada…
    yet here in london they are superstars…they fill venues…
    when i saw crystal castles in montreal…i couldnt say the same…
    i overheard the artists saying…shit theres no one here…
    unfortunately for me who paid…they left after 3 songs…
    i blame it on promotioning…cos i know theres a audience (they aint no polka band)…

  6. pleasureprincipal says:

    You bring up an interesting question. Should promoters put more money into what they must see as the “unknown”? For me this question can go either way. If they choose to invest time and effort, will there be any return?
    I feel that promoters should promote acts in their home town first before they think of looking elsewhere. As a Torontonian, I can say that we don’t even support our own artists, why would I feel compelled to support someone when I don’t even support my own?
    Promoters have no obligation to put their neck and reputation on the line for a few people who say they will come out to see various artists. But that’s just my feeling on it.

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