Hook hopes to have ball again at PNE
Nelson-born Vancouver resident returns to his roots this weekend at iHeartRadio event
Shawn Hook played the PNE before. When the Nelson-born-andraised singer first moved to Vancouver, he entered the annual talent show at the fair.
“Yeah, I entered it and I won, which was pretty cool actually,” said Hook. “But I haven’t played there since, so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Hook appears as part of the iHeartRadio Beach Ball. The two-day-long festival just might be the very highlight of this year’s impressive roster of musical artists. Tuned into contemporary hitmakers, the lineup over the two days breaks down as follows:
On Sunday, Canadian star Alessia Cara is joined by Liam Payne, Lorde, Ralph, Scott Helman, The Strumbellas, Virginia to Vegas and Shawn Hook. Monday features New Wave legends Blondie, Christian Hudson, Ruth B, Serena Ryder and Train. While somewhat skewing toward a younger demographic, the event captures the wide listener base of iHeartRadio’s many users. In Vancouver, the brand includes QMFM and Virgin Radio Vancouver.
“All of our music formats are important to us, but the iHeartRadio experience is a kind of brand representing all things music and spoken word,” said Rob Farina, Bell Media’s head of radio content, strategy and iHeartRadio. “What really drives the brand is music and the live part of that is the real cornerstone. In the seven years that the brand has been in America, they have done a phenomenal job of developing that live side of things.”
Call it putting a human face to a digital connection. Farina emphasizes Beach Ball is all about variety and avoiding the all-too-common concert situation of having a lineup that is basically the same.
“We’re bringing a music festival experience into arenas and theatres at a reasonable ticket price,” he said. “It almost hearkens back to the early days of pop music, where you could see the Supremes, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Creedence Clearwater Revival on the same bill.”
Hook has been all over North America in support of his latest album. The single Reminding Me, with guest vocalist Vanessa Hudgens, crosses over both hits and AAA formats.
“I just try to find my own lane and not really go after what’s hot at the time,” said Hook. “With Sound of Your Heart, it was a bit of a learning curve because it didn’t sound like anything at the time, but it felt right, felt honest and kind of defined my sound. I can’t really chase trends and luckily I have found a place on radio that I can keep on developing into something bigger.”
A lot of growing a personal brand is about the exposure you get to potential audiences and the PNE bill should see a pretty wide cross-section of listeners and ages in the room. Farina says that is what iHeartRadio is chasing with its event.
“In the digital age, audiences have a much wider acceptance of musical styles and are no longer just rock or country and so forth,” he said. “We worked very closely with the labels and artists in deciding who to bring in and tie it in with their promotional cycles, so you get both the performance as well as having it carry over into the iHeartRadio experience.”
The goal is for Beach Ball to become an annual event across Canada and using smart programming to develop a strong allegiance to the tour. But Farina says the iHeartRadio Beach Ball is only the beginning.
“We also plan on doing an arena event in Vancouver in the spring, because Vancouver is such an incredibly buoyant and varied market,” he said. “With the enhanced platform we have coming out this fall with more choices for consumers, it allows us the possibility of widening the scope of these events.”
Research has shown that about 70 per cent of the listeners to iHeartRadio are accessing the format on their desktop. While there is always going to be a rise in the number of listeners using radio during peak driving times, we increasingly favour computers as the appliance of choice for listening.
And radio continues to be the medium of choice for breaking musical acts. Although Hook also chased placing songs in film and TV.
“It was a pretty great opportunity for me at the time to get anyone to see my worth or credit,” said Hook. “I was really lucky to have meetings and showcase to some people who were involved in the industry down in Los Angeles and they were wondering if I had ever thought of writing songs for film and TV. I write songs every day, so I was really happy to do it and it certainly opened some doors for me.”
Hook’s appearance in front of his adopted hometown crowd at iHeartRadio Beach Ball may very well bounce some more action his way, too.
Nelson-born pop artist Shawn Hook entered and won the annual talent fair at the PNE when he first moved to Vancouver.