Q&A with ‘Women in the Studio National Accelerator 2023’ Participants Russell Louder & Dayna Manning

Music Publishers Canada’s (MPC) Women in the Studio National Accelerator 2023, which advances the career development of talented producer-songwriters from across Canada, recently announced the six brilliant women, gender fluid, non-binary and gender non-conforming participants for this year.

They, include:

– Alexandria Maillot – Courtenay, BC

– Aliah Guerra – Ottawa, ON

– Dayna Manning – Kentville, NS

– Phoenix Pagliacci (Rian Hamilton) – Toronto, ON

– Russell Louder – Montreal, QC

– Terez (Terez Goulet) – Calgary, AB

First launched the program regionally in 2019 and expanded nationally in 2020, this is the fifth cohort the Accelerator is supporting.

It is designed to provide the group with opportunities for skills development and networking that they may otherwise be unable to access.

Participants will gain valuable insights from mentors and industry experts for the duration of the program, including comprehensive development and networking opportunities in Toronto this June during Canadian Music Week.

This will be followed by more virtual and in person sessions throughout the year.

SWOMP caught up with participants Dayna Manning and Russell Louder for a Q&A. Our questions are in bold, followed by Dayna and Russell’s responses:

Russell Louder, left and Dayna Manning, right.

We understand the participants had some development/networking opportunities available to them in Toronto recently during Canadian Music Week. How did this go? What are some other opportunities the program has provided to you so far? What are you looking forward to the most?

Dayna: “The week with women in the studio in Toronto was fabulous. Five out of the six participants were from across Canada and we stayed in a house together. Our days were jam-packed with uplifting and educational programming.

We were offered everything from tutorials on how to optimize EQ settings and compression, to a brand new photoshoot, including artist photos and headshot looks for our producer resumes.

We were able to visit recording studios at Sony and Universal, try some writing sessions with local artists and dig deep into the publishing side of the business.

Beyond this, one of my favourite opportunities was attending the Sync Awards and really getting to know who the players are in that side of the business.

We have programming until December which includes everything from having experts look at our tracks, and learning how to negotiate a producer-artist deal.

I’m having questions answered that I’ve wondered about for 20 years and this experience has been a real paradigm shift for me.”

Russell: “The thing I often find with conferences like CMW is that the opportunities that it generates are more long-game, so it’s hard to say what has professionally materialized in the span of one month.

However, having free reign and access to the conference was a wonderful way to meet so many industry pros in a short amount of time – for me it was mostly music supervisors and publishers.

I used to have a really tough time networking and didn’t totally understand its value at the very beginning of my career, but over time I’ve found that ‘the art of networking’ is less about the immediate gratification of ‘getting an offer’ or some kind of transaction.

I think when you know who you are and shift your focus to being genuinely curious about people, there’s a real excitement in cultivating a professional relationship with someone you dig.

And being given as many opportunities to do that as humanly possible in the context of CMW was super valuable to me… though I still have many emails to send.

The Women in the Studio programming through the week was also great – my favourite parts were the in-studio workshops like our mixing sessions with Amandine Pras.”

According to a 2021 USC Annenberg study, across a six year sample of the Billboard Hot 100 songs between 2012-2020, there were less than 3% female producers, and “this is a ratio of 38 men to every 1 woman producer.” How has this trend/fact impacted you and your career?

Russell: “I mean, if I’m honest, I haven’t spent a ton of time in studios – I’ve just worked from home because studio time costs money and you’re often dealing with cis-hetero men who think they know more than you.

Working at my own pace with my bare bones laptop, midi controller, guitar, bass, mic setup is what has been the most accessible to me.

I think this statistic mostly speaks to a systemic problem.

Yes there aren’t enough “not-mans” being given opportunities to grow and develop in professional environments as producers, but why? Who is hiring the producers? Who is at the head of the table delegating the tasks at most record labels, publishing companies, etc.”

Dayna: “I have no doubt that this statistic is true.

Although I’ve always felt respected as an artist, I’ve never felt respected as a producer engineer until now, despite a nomination for Producer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

The formal post-secondary education programs that exist now for producers and engineers were few and far between when I was honing my skills, and I never even thought that would be an option for me.

Throughout my career I’ve actually spoken to several of these programs as they try to promote female engineers and producers.

The fact is that this education has never been offered to me and I was thrilled to be a part of this program even though it’s a later time in my career than the other participants.”

Overall, what can you say about your fellow participants with the Accelerator?

Dayna: “I thought Music Publishers Canada did an incredible job choosing the participants for this Accelerator.

The diversity in background, perspective, musical genre, and skill set was astounding.

I really respect my fellow participants and learned a lot from them.

I roomed with Terez and fell in love with her! I was always astounded by her ideas, songwriting skills and production chops.

Alexandria had an artist perspective that I really learned from, and the quality and artistry of her tracks was out of this world.

Russell is a force to be reckoned with and I’m excited to see their long term career as an artist and performer unfold.

Aliah was so talented she could hardly contain it – like a newborn deer!

Her explosive energy and ideas were plentiful.

Phoenix was grounded, smooth, effortless and skilled.

A perfect candidate.

I’m very thankful for my new peers and friends.”

Russell: “The cohort is a small but mighty one.

We all come from super different musical backgrounds and all have very different skill sets, but everyone is very artist-minded which I think gives each of us a certain sensitivity as producers in the context of co-writes.

It was so great to be sharing a house while we were in Toronto because we could kind of chill and debrief at the end of each day, throw ideas around, eat cold pizza… 10/10 crew.”

At the end of the program, what are some outcomes you are hoping to take away from it?

Russell: “I’m really hoping to sink my teeth into more in-studio learning opportunities – particularly around the more technical aspects of production and engineering.

I’m also keen to work in film scoring, so building contacts and development opportunities around that is definitely an active project for me in the context of this program.

Right now, we’re just at the beginning so I’m also just feeling really open and trusting of the process.

There are powerhouse humans running this Accelerator who are so deeply invested in each of us getting what we need from it.”

Dayna: “Some things I would like to take away from the Accelerator are:

– An industry connected support system as a producer.

– An enhanced list of contacts and resources for questions and potential opportunities

– A peer group to fall back on

– New skills

– New mindset.”

Follow Dayna, here:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daynamanning/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DaynaManningSongs
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/daynamanning/
Website: https://www.daynamanning.com/

Follow Russell, here:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/russelllouder
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/russelllouder/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@russelllouder
Website: https://russelllouder.bandcamp.com/
Youtube: https://youtube.com/russellloudermusic

SWOMP has also connected with Music Publishers Canada’s CEO Margaret McGuffin for a Q&A.

Watch for the article later this week on www.swomp.ca.

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