Two students kickstart their own companies by diving into music promotion and production industries
When a canary is brought down into a coal mine and survives, coal miners can assume that the mine is safe to work in and free of hazardous gases.The riskful behaviour of the canary is something Jason Athanase Baronette can relate to.
“I jump into things pretty head first—I always have,” he said. Baronette is the creator and owner of Yellow Bird, a music production studio located in Outremont. The 27-year-old Concordia Geography student spent the last two years building the studio from the ground up, and the final product is a musical candy store—it’s a building perfectly equipped and designed for a musician or music producer’s needs.
“Yellow Bird has two parts to it. There’s the professional recording side where my team and me do a lot of different movies, we produce albums, we manage some artists. On the other side, we work on fostering relationships with musicians. So we have a community center-style building, and we have three or four different rehearsal rooms. Bands can come in and build relationships [with] each other, have a place to practice, a nice place to record, and overall just learn.”
Walk the halls of the Yellow Bird jam space, and you’ll be greeted by two spacious jam rooms booming with the sound of local bands. Around the corner, there’s a lounge area that occasionally sees a packed box of neatly ordered empty beer bottles. Across the hall, another recording facility is the the process of being set-up.
Alec Johnson describes Yellow Bird as his second home. Johnson is the creator and owner of 93 productions.
“We specialize in artist representation and promoting them,” Johnson said. “We also do the production of concerts, shows, and various events. Recently, we decided to branch off into catering as well.” The 21-year-old Concordia Urban Studies student started 93 productions in order to help artists learn the ropes of the industry, and to help spark their musical career.
“I want to do something special … I want to be somebody that artists can rely on. Especially in the industry in general: there’s a lot lopsidedness and problems with it. 93 Productions is there to help an artist, a band, feel comfortable and grow,” he said.
These two ambitious Concordia students have often teamed together for artist representation and production. James Shannon, a folk/house singer/songwriter, is one of the artists whose album was recently recorded at Yellow Bird. Johnson and Baronette have developed a brotherly relationship of mutual respect; both parties’ talents complementing the other. The philosophy that surrounds both new businessmen is one of approachability, openness, and humbleness.
“Our philosophy at [93 productions] is that we treat everybody equally, we love each other like we’re family, and, when we do something, we do it well,” Johnson said.
However, both companies have encountered some bumps along the way that had the creators doubting whether or not they could proceed. Baronette had to rebuild the studio after experiencing two floods—gushing water being a fatal blow to a lot of expensive recording equipment and space. Johnson continues to knock heads with competing music promotion companies, but remains assured in his abilities and grounded in his philosophy.
“There’s a lack of resources for artists in Montreal … also at the same time it’s a really popping industry,” Johnson said. “We have bands on our radar that are coming up left right and center. I just think somebody needs to take the time to foster them and to teach them the ropes in order for them to able to accelerate. Montreal can be—and I think will be one day—a huge music hub.”
Yellow Bird is certainly a new resource that could be put to good use by bands of any genre. Baronette explained that “in Montreal, you’ve got two different stratifications: you’ve got the really not well run and not well-supplied studios and then you’ve got your really expensive recording studios– I wanted to hit that middle ground so that people who didn’t have a million dollars could come and record in a nice place, and that higher-end clients could also come in, and their needs would still be fulfilled,” he said.
Baronette spent a year on the road, working sound for big names like Akon and Mac Miller. Having played music since the age of 14, Baronette shared how his experience working with bands led him to learn how to work audio equipment. “I fell into this sort of by accident … somebody needed to work the PA system during rehearsal and somebody had to do it at the show. Somebody had to organize the shows… I ended up taking on those jobs. All these little fasets I was doing—because we couldn’t afford someone to do it—now I do them all as a business.”
The two music enthusiasts will be hosting an event entitled Encore on Jan. 10 at O Patro Vys. The event is the album launch for James Shannon, and it will be catered by 93 Productions.