Being a creative entrepreneur in Montreal
Josh Spencer is a self-described junkie.
A mainstay at music venues all across Montreal, you’d think he was a music major – you would be wrong: Josh is a (recently graduated) Bronfman-ite. Now, with his initiative, KickDrum, he’s merged two of his greatest passions – music and business. So, how did he get from the slick halls of Desautels to the effervescent crowds of the Montreal music scene?
Montreal is a musical jigsaw, filled with the kind of musical variety and quantity unparalleled anywhere else in Canada – as Spencer puts it, “in terms of the independent music scene, Montreal’s literally the best”. Musicians become drawn to our city not only because of the low living costs that are available but also because of the infectious fog of creative energy (what the Quebecois might call joie de vivre) which hangs over the city. For musicians, Montreal provides the freedom to play music and to better your art – all at a bargain. Montreal has been good to its resident artists: some of the musical giants dominating the music scene today come from independent roots in this snowy city. The budding musician within Spencer saw these opportunities available exclusively in Montreal – and stuck around for its sake.
Montreal is a musical jigsaw, filled with the kind of musical variety and quantity unparalleled anywhere else in Canada – as Spencer puts it, “in terms of the independent music scene, Montreal’s literally the best”.
Despite all the creativity buzzing in the city, there were some things that needed improvement: though there is so much local music being created and performed in Montreal, it’s underrated and underappreciated. Too often, people do not seek it out; other times, it’s hard to find a community among the countless musicians in the city. (In fact, if you’re reading this, you should check out some local music on KickDrum’s SoundCloud.) Spencer, after being on the ground in the industry, and familiarizing himself with the issues it faces, thought he might be able to use his hard-learned skills from Bronfman to good use.
So, Spencer set about creating KickDrum, an independent music network for independent cafes in Montreal. KickDrum works with local talent and independent businesses to build a creative community within Montreal. For example, it helps find venues for musicians in cozy cafes, and helps connect up-and-coming artists with similar creative minds. Setting up a music network for Montreal’s independent music scene is, however, like herding cats: it’s no easy task. For help, he turned to his alma mater. The Dobson Centre at McGill not only matched Spencer up with a mentor, who helped refine and nurture KickDrum in its infancy – it provided a rock upon which Spencer could depend on, and a source to which he could be accountable to.
Graduation and ‘the great unknown’ which follows can be terrifying; and being an entrepreneur by paving your own way to success, is even more terrifying.
He’s done what so many of us want to do after graduating: mix a creative passion with the skills learnt high up in the academic ivory towers. Graduation and ‘the great unknown’ which follows can be terrifying; and being an entrepreneur by paving your own way to success, is even more terrifying. Yet, for our generation – the generation with an insatiable appetite for fulfilment in a number of different ways – pursuing entrepreneurship is one way you can merge what you’ve learned at school with something you love. It’s a long struggle, and demands a fair bit of hustling – but it’s worth it.
Check out KickDrum’s Winter Marathon from January 14th to 16th.