Waye Mason Executive Director of Halifax Pop Explosion and Instructor, Nova Scotia Community College

Waye Mason Executive Director of Halifax Pop Explosion and Instructor, Nova Scotia Community College
A 20-year veteran of the Canadian music industry, Waye has booked bands, founded a label (No Records), and worked as business management consultant with clients such as Ticketpro Canada, DRUM!, and Gigantic Entertainment. Former president of Music Nova Scotia, Waye wrote and lobbied for the 2002 Music Sector Strategy, which lead to unprecedented government investment in music in Nova Scotia. Waye teaches in the Music Business, Music Arts, and Recording Arts programs at the Nova Scotia Community College. He is Executive Director of the Halifax Pop Explosion music festival and a member of the National Training Advisory Council for the music industry.

Did you go to a music school?
I did not - I went for political science. While I was there I became a campus community radio station volunteer and that's how I got into music, by getting involved with the station, putting on shows with bands, and then starting a label myself. The thing you can get from any education is that a lot of the Canadian business is about grant writing, proposal writing, business plans and marketing plan writing. So I don't think getting an arts degree is totally useless. But years later when I became involved with Music Nova Scotia writing sector strategy and helping to shape government policy around the arts, then having a political science degree was really useful.

How did the NSCC program come about?
One of the things we found [writing the sector strategy in 2002] was that there wasn't a lot of professional development in the music business, and a lot of people who went through like I did, did so by trial and error. There was a real interest in the music industry for there to be a program that would help people not make the same mistake we all did, and that would help bootstrap them up and have a chance to not lose money in all the obvious ways. So the program came from industry. At NSCC we offer a one-year music business certificate which is about entrepreneurship, how the business is structured, and music history. You can take it as a stand-alone for one year, or as part of our two-year music arts program.

What kinds of things that musicians should be learning, as opposed to someone who's looking for work in the music business?
Well, it's about understanding your own business. Whether you are going to be a singer-songwriter or a musician or an engineer or do live sound or be a roadie, in all those positions you are going to be self-employed, on contract, and you're usually piecing together your living from a bunch of different sources. So it's understanding how money works, how accounting works, being able to write a business plan and to track the money. Even if you're making a decent living, if you don't know how to track the money then it's going to be hard for a bank to give you a loan or a mortgage. All our modules are offered part-time or for distance learning so do people can pick up just what they need. [Even if you have worked in the industry for years] you may have specific holes in your education that you need to fill.

Given the state of the industry, are people who attend your program going to get jobs?
When I am recruiting I never tell people "You're going to get a job out of this," because that would be lying. A music business program is for someone who already has an idea and who is passionate about being involved in music. By being more educated about what they want to get into, they have more opportunities to realize actual income, to earn revenue.