“I have had several industry mentors throughout my career, from music business instructors to bosses, and I know I certainly wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for them.” Racquel Villagante, former A&R Representative of SOCAN, shares what inspired her to become a mentor for the RBC Launchpad Music Entrepreneurship Program. In short, paying it forward.
Racquel knows first-hand how tricky it is to pursue a career in music and entertainment and how it can take a combination of hard work, talent, and luck to “make it”. Providing foresight and context for the next generation coming up in the music industry is her mission. It’s important for her to help them navigate this uncharted landscape and empower ‘who got next‘ to pursue their passion at the beat of their own drum.
When Racquel started her career, she felt the need to say “yes” to everyone and every project. Naturally, when you’re eager to build your experience and Rolodex, you almost feel obligated to say yes. However, you learn to become more selective & strategic with what and who you share your time, talents, and energy to over time. “I have found that my people-pleasing nature can often lead to burnout and doesn’t serve my greatest good. It’s just not sustainable to keep going long-term.” This is how Racquel embraced her boundaries quickly—and learning to just say “no” can be crucial to master in the music industry.
When you’re too afraid to turn projects or someone down, it’s how imposter syndrome can creep in. Racquel confirms that it’s common in the industry, even with the well seasoned and most knowledgeable. “There will always be skeptics who think what we’re doing is impractical and impossible. Sometimes we can often be our own worst critics.” To combat the pressures of “making it”, she recommends a good therapist. “Therapy is invaluable when it comes to overcoming anxiety and self-doubt.” She also credits being among a tight circle of peers and mentors who can recognize your growth potential and to encourage, uplift, and fully support you on your journey toward your dreams.
“The artistic and creative side of the business is what I thrive in. I also love meeting new people, discovering emerging talent, and connecting creatives to each other for collaboration. Matchmaking and bridge building, establishing a sense of family and community amongst creatives – that’s my niche. I love being a part of an artist’s journey in the early stages before they blow up.”
In order to get a better grasp of the business side of music, Racquel spent the last 3 years of her career at SOCAN as the A&R Rep in Vancouver, B.C. and Toronto, O.N. For an artist, understanding their music rights and royalties is super important. “Oftentimes, artists and musicians start out chasing the social media likes, the clout, and the exposure…but exposure needs to translate to money at some point. You eventually have to decide: is music just a passion or is it my profession? This is a business at the end of the day, you have to make a living wage somehow. And if you don’t understand intellectual property, music rights, and royalties, then you don’t truly understand the monetary value you bring to the table as an artist.”
Music is being discovered and consumed at a rapid rate on streaming platforms. “Playlisting is now key to streaming revenue, and thus relationships with DSPs are crucial”, Racquel reveals. She encourages artists to explore the avenue of music ad placement in film and/or TV. As well as, connecting with influencers and brands who most align with your brand and highlighting video-focused mediums as a way to build community, including using tools like TikTok and Instagram Reels.
“Connection to audiences in this short-form content and short attention span era at present is difficult to achieve without visual or video content. The visual art and video component of the music are more important than ever before and essential for story-telling.”
When we asked her what factors should an artist consider most when planning for the future, Racquel stressed, “You’re not just creating music —you are in the business of creating community, culture, and legacy.” It’s a powerful statement, and a perspective artists at every level should heed.
“In order for music to seriously grip and stick in hearts and minds, and be lucrative enough to stand on its own within this economy, it does need to be attached to a cultural moment in time and relate and connect to a community where they feel the music empathizes with them in their current situation. Empathy is key.”
*Racquel now manages artists at her own agency as an A&R consultant and strategist.
*RBC Launchpad Music Entrepreneurship Program is a 4-month educational initiative dedicated to supporting and empowering local emerging artists, music creators, and entrepreneurs. The new edition of the program welcomes 50 participants between the ages of 18 to 35 that have been selected from more than 400 applications from all over Canada. To learn more click here.
Interviewed by: Meagan Barnes
Written by: Tennile Cooper