CBC Radio 3 is currently hosting a search for the Best Music Website in Canada. Over the last few weeks, through an online public poll, they have narrowed down the field with Vancouver having a strong showing in the top 30 listings (including Vancouver is Awesome’s music section and Backstage Rider). This week we’re down to the Top 10 and one West Coast website, Thorny Bleeder Records, remains in the running. I had the chance to chat with site owner and operator Brian Thomson this morning about making the cut and the current state of the music industry online.
The website came about “out of necessity, passion, interest and being a total web nerd,” Brian told me over the phone. He not only runs what is now one of the top 10 music websites in Canada, Thorny Bleeder Records is a label and artist management firm that also offers artist services and social media consulting aimed at people in the creative arts. “Developing and ‘up and coming’ artists are just trying to figure out what they’re going to do. The first thing is record an album but then it’s like ‘okay, what do we do now?’.” Brian then helps them work out a 6-month plan, focusing on how to get their music out to the masses. “It all starts with social media,” he added.
The website itself hosts a blog, video podcasts, a daily newsletter, free music downloads, and insights into the business of the music industry. “We’re very different from other music websites that just do music reviews,” Brian said. “I like to refer to us as a music lovers’ community,” which follows advice he often gives his artists.
“I try to practice what I preach so if I’m urging and artist to do something [with social media] I try to do it even better. There’s no reason an artist can’t do the same.” With over 6,000 followers on Twitter, Brian’s genuine approach to promotions and community engagement is what has brought him this far in the online realm. “It’s all about creating that community instead of just saying ‘listen to me’ — it’s not about advertising. You need to involve people in something.”
Whether it’s creating a community for his artists or for the label, Brian’s enthusiasm and drive to support the music industry is clear. He even offers up free albums on his website including the ‘Get Thorny’ compilation, consisting of over 20 hand-picked tunes by Canadian artists, just so that people can discover new home-grown talent.
There is still time to vote for your favourite Canadian music website until Thursday, March 10th (you can vote once every 24-hour period). The winner will be flown out to the NXNE festival this summer to accept their award.