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And that’s a wrap! Here’s what some participants of the 2021 RBC Music Launchpad Entrepreneurship Program had to say about their experience

Last month marked the end of the 2021 RBC Music Launchpad Entrepreneurship Program. We asked a few participants to share some words on their experience in the program and the impact it had on their creative practice.

Josh Sahunta against black background, wearing white tshirt, looking at camera with hand resting above eyebrowJosh Sahunta

The RBC Launchpad program was an invaluable experience for me as an emerging artist. I was able to collaborate with many of my classmates, and I have grown significantly in my understanding of the music industry, both within Canada, and internationally. I now feel extremely confident to continue to pursue a career in music, despite the pandemic.

I cannot express how grateful I am to have had this opportunity even as the world came to a halt due to the pandemic. This was seriously something to look forward to each week.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “I not only have met a lot of collaborators through this program, but I have also learned many new skills and habits that I will continue to use going forward.”

Ashley Khan headshot with sky in background, pink mesh sleeve in foregroundAshley Khan

“During a really difficult time, the RBC Launchpad program added some much-needed light and structure to my life to keep me motivated and focused on pursuing my goals. It was a very inspiring experience to be exposed to so much Canadian and local Toronto talent, and to connect with a community that shares a like mind. The industry can be saturated with a lot of misguided advice, so I was hesitant at first, but I quickly found that the philosophies taught here were very much in line with my own. We covered most of a music college’s full-year curriculum in a few months, from professionals currently invested in the industry. I thought that was so valuable and am really grateful to have connected with so many new artists and industry professionals when I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to! Martín was really supportive, encouraging, and helpful. I appreciated how engaged he was with everyone’s careers and professional growth, and in general, maintained a really constructive and entertaining environment while over zoom calls!”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “With COVID, it gave me structure to stay on track with my plans, it also gave me the confidence and motivation to write new music, to pursue production, and to come up with new entrepreneurial ideas from the information/insights shared in workshops.”

Justine Tyrell standing facing left, wearing a brown dress with a white and grey fur coat draped around torso. Backdrop is industrial buildings/factoriesJustine Tyrell

“This program was the perfect intersection of real-life, career applicable tools to grow my career- meets inspiration, support, and community. The mentors that we had access to, were amazing – and the topics we covered, took a deep dive on the things that I really wanted and needed to know. What set this program apart for me, was truly the relevancy of our resources, who and what we had access to – and how seamlessly this crosses over into my career and the caliber I want to work at.
The environment was always so positive, fun, and engaging- and felt like a safe and structure place for all of us to keep working at our music goals, during Covid.

The timing was amazing (and somewhat chaotic) for me, as the final pitch paralleled the timeline of my EP release. This was so great for me, because it pushed me to up my game that much more – and really think through every angle. I really believe this helped me come up with ideas and angles, that made my release even better.

Martin was absolutely phenomenal, and created such a great online space for us. I always felt so welcome, so encouraged to share my thoughts and ask questions – and just had so many laughs. Above all else, I felt he was truly in our court- going above and beyond to find ways to elevate us, make connections, and help us grow our careers.

The resources, the opportunities, the support, structure and people. I’m going to miss it all so much! Thank you RBC, Launchpad Toronto, Megan, and Martin! You really gave us a leg up, in a tough time.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “Gave me more tools in my toolbox, I felt more focused and supported during a time that was really challenging. I gained more focus and structure, and as well as a great professional network to support what I’m doing.”

Nicholas Navarro wearing all-black looking and smiling at cameraNicholas Navarro

I really loved this program. This was by far, my favourite thing to do all week during the worst time for most. It really gave me the chance to work on my weaknesses, and develop my knowledge and skills within the industry, while connecting with others. Would love to take this program further when the lockdown is over and head over to in-person events to meet and collaborate with people in person. I am very grateful you guys were interested to pick me as a participant, and very sad it will be over. Year-long program next? Please? Going to seriously miss this.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “Really gave me an understanding of the industry, and was very well-rounded for individuals who aren’t even artists like myself.”

Leen Hamo wearing green top, looking to left sideLeen Hamo

“I am thankful and grateful for being part of this workshop , it gave me a lot of motivation knowing that I am not the only artist who’s looking for improving my skills and getting support.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “I am applying the knowledge I gained on my release project like social media ads, signing up for SoCan and working on branding.”

Emma Lamontagne holding guitar looking off to rightEmma Lamontagne

This program came at just the right time in my life. I’m 100% independent for the first time in my career and finally have full creative control. Not only did the workshops provide me with some much needed pandemic structure, but they were highly informative and motivated me to continue doing research to apply that information to my situation. The 1-on-1 mentoring sessions were my favourite part of the program because I could get really personal about what I’m going through as an artist and writer. Every mentor was attentive and very kind. It’s a bittersweet ending because I gained so much knowledge and many strategies, but I am quite sad that it’s over. I am so happy that I pushed myself to apply because Launchpad has been the best thing to happen to me in a while.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “Just helping me feel better about the obstacles caused by my disability and that I can make it to the same finishing point, just on my own time.”

Rachel Weldon headshot, looking into camera angled towards right, orange hueRachel Weldon

The one-on-ones with the mentors were incredibly valuable. Being able to talk through specific problems and explore practical solutions with the program mentors really helped my career development.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “Informed my social media and PR strategies, made a lot of connections to artists and industry people.”

Bukola Balogun headshot in greyscale, wearing dark shirt, smiling with arms up and wrists resting on headBukola Balogun

The program was super fun and very informative! I always looked forward to getting to see everybody every Monday. All the participants were all super kind and everyone had a really good sense of humour 🙂 I learned so much from the program and I got to connect with so many super amazing people. I can’t wait to continue to build these relationships even though the program is over.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “It helped me understand the music industry better as well as provided me with a network of amazing people and mentors that I can now reach out to.”

Tafari Anthony sitting leaning forward on an orange chair, wearing dark pants and shoes, orange turtleneck. Cement wall backdrop

Tafari Anthony

RBC Launchpad Music Entrepreneurship program really provided a safe space to be able to ask and explore what may seem like dumb questions to industry professionals without judgement. Personally, the info I gained about grants, building capital and how to build a business that can sustain you was invaluable and I believe now puts me in a much better position for success than before.”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “Gaining some more connections through the program has been great. It’s been awesome to connect with the other participants as well as getting that valuable one-on-one time with mentors that typically might be harder to get.”

Nigel Irwin in a yellow beanie and black jacket, chin resting on fistNigel Irwin

It’s already paying off for me, I’m grateful to have been able to participate and learn from the great mentors you’ve connected me with. All very encouraging!”

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “It’s taken me out of an amateur mentality, and given me a broader understanding of the music biz. This has forced me to consider new things and new responsibilities when managing my own artistic path.”

Holly Classius standing against brown fence wearing yellow shirt with red and green flowers, holding a sunflower to her earHolly Clausius

“This program really helped me get organized for my first full length release, as well as it gave me a lot of insight into the current music scene in Canada. I was able to network and gain a lot of connections I wouldn’t have made otherwise.

On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “It has given me a lot of info and connections, helped me prepare for my release.”

Anda Zeng wearing navy blue blazer standing and looking to the rightAnda Zeng

“This program was deeply empowering both professionally and also personally. It was such a safe and encouraging environment in which to learn and explore and ask questions.”
On how the program has impacted their practice so far: “Has given me more confidence as a creative entrepreneur by giving me a clearer understanding of what the industry is, rather than it being this intimidating, looming abstract concept. It’s been demystified, so I feel empowered to make my own decisions about how I want to build my career in music. I also gained more confidence in myself as an artist after meeting with the mentors and being challenged and affirmed by them. Having my journey reflected back to me by people in the industry has been so, so valuable at this stage.”

In case you missed it, you can get to know these and more up-and-coming artists through intimate performances for the weekly IGTV at-home performance series. The series wrapped up last week, but you can still view them on @launchpadtoronto.

Thank you to all participants and facilitators for another incredible year!

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