The busi­ness of mu­sic

Singing en­tre­pre­neur­ial praises

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - Joe Sher­ren Joseph Sher­ren, in­ter­na­tional busi­ness trans­for­ma­tion spe­cial­ist, can be reached at 902-437-6998, or check his web­site www.

If you could cross the cre­ative tal­ent of a right brain artist with the bril­liance of a left-brain busi­ness en­tre­pre­neur, what would you get? That an­swer would be Tara Ma­cLean.

My wife and I were among some of the for­tu­nate peo­ple who at­tended the open­ing night of At­lantic Blue at The Guild Theatre. This was an evening of amaz­ing mu­sic, com­bined with sto­ry­telling, and high­lighted some of the best tal­ent from the Mar­itimes.

With her on stage was Todd Ma­cLean, Cyn­thia Ma­cLeod, Caro­line Bernard, Mark Ged­des and Aaron Crane.

It was ex­tra spe­cial and nos­tal­gic for me, be­cause years ago I was in­volved in the mu­sic world and per­son­ally knew some of the mu­si­cians she show­cased. Tara cre­ated this show and pre­sented it with class, au­then­tic­ity and dig­nity.

Although Tara is tremen­dously tal­ented, my pur­pose in writ­ing this ar­ti­cle is to high­light how a tal­ented per­son can turn their gift into a vi­able busi­ness.

Some back­ground on Tara: She is a sev­enth gen­er­a­tion Is­lander (with Ir­ish roots) who learned to sing, play gui­tar, and write songs. Her fa­ther was a singer and dancer, her step­fa­ther was a song­writer, and her mother was an ac­claimed theatre and film ac­tress.

She ini­tially wanted to be­come a lawyer, but mu­sic was deep in her DNA and too strong for her to bat­tle.

In 1995, she went to San Fran­cisco to record her de­but al­bum “Si­lence” at Bril­liant Stu­dios. She sold over 20,000 CDs just from her U.S. tour. In 1997 she re­leased a five-song EP of remixed songs called “If You See Me”. That same year she was named best new solo artist at the Cana­dian Ra­dio Mu­sic Awards.

How­ever, as Tara re­al­izes, mu­sic and mu­sic busi­ness are two dif­fer­ent things. The mu­sic busi­ness chews peo­ple up and spits them out. Van Mor­ri­son once said: “Mu­sic is spir­i­tual, the mu­sic busi­ness is not!” It is so dif­fi­cult for a tal­ented mu­si­cian to make money – that they get to keep!

She took a hia­tus from the mu­sic world to have chil­dren, but, now Tara is back – with a vengeance. She is blend­ing all her strengths and is now writ­ing, cre­at­ing, pro­duc­ing, di­rect­ing, and star­ing in her own show – At­lantic Blue.

Her pas­sion in life is to touch hearts and in­spire oth­ers to do their ab­so­lute best — while en­joy­ing the jour­ney along the way. She is equally com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing space where other mu­si­cians can show­case their tal­ents.

But to do this there needs to be rev­enue and prof­itabil­ity. Most artists just look at the rev­enue side of the equa­tion. They con­tinue to trade their time and tal­ent for low re­turns, while mak­ing pro­mot­ers and agents rich.

Con­se­quently, Tara has be­come an en­tre­pre­neur: learn­ing about mar­ket­ing, fi­nance, book­keep­ing, fundrais­ing, spon­sor­ships, and un­der­stand­ing the ne­ces­sity of prof­itabil­ity. She says: “Be­ing a suc­cess­ful artist in Canada means do­ing a lot of beg­ging” – search­ing for rev­enue streams be­yond ticket sales. Tara has the strength and for­ti­tude to do what­ever it takes.

As she will tell you, there are many in­di­vid­u­als (too nu­mer­ous to men­tion) who have sup­ported her and sin­cerely want to see art sur­vive in P.E.I. Among those in­clude Danny and Mar­tie Mur­phy, who not only sup­port, but back it up with funds to sub­si­dize tal­ent lo­cally.

Tara plans to take the show on the road and into the cor­po­rate mar­ket (she is al­ready re­ceiv­ing over­tures from other cities). She knows that to be suc­cess­ful in the en­ter­tain­ment busi­ness, you must love your au­di­ence − Tara truly does, and she would truly love to see you at one of her shows this sum­mer.

My ques­tion for busi­ness own­ers: What are you do­ing to sup­port the arts in P.E.I. and en­cour­age your staff to use all their tal­ents?


Is­land mu­si­cian Tara Ma­cLean has had to learn how to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur. As well as mak­ing mu­sic, she has to fo­cus on mar­ket­ing, fi­nance, book­keep­ing, fundrais­ing, spon­sor­ships and un­der­stand­ing the ne­ces­sity of prof­itabil­ity.

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