IBG Interview With… Darryl Hurs of Indie Week Canada

DArryl Hurs of Indie Week Canada

Music conferences and festivals have become the lifeblood of the independent music scene. One of the longest running has been held up in Toronto for the past 17 years. This year on November 13th-17th.

We had the chance to chat with Darryl Hurs, founder of Indie Week Canada about the conference and where he sees the future of independent music going.

Indie Week Canada has been one of the longest-running festivals for independent artists. How do you keep it fresh from year to year?

Each year we look at what changes have happened in the industry and where it is going. Then what can we do to help position indie artists to gain insight to help them navigate changes. I am proud that we have always been diverse in artists and genres, we were one of the first to focus on health and wellness, and we have also been working on export opportunities so artists can go to other markets.

What first drew you to getting involved with Indie Week over 15 years ago?

I started it 😉 – basically I felt there needed to be a fair showcase platform for emerging artists. Ones that you might not have heard of but need to discover. Other festivals have so much going on with industry activities it is difficult to get industry out to your “showcase” where we really work at making sure music industry reps are in the room and able to attend.

It has become quite an international event. How has it had such worldwide reach?

It has taken a long time developing. Many trips to other festivals, many meetings and a lot of leg work. A lot of people don’t understand the amount of work time and effort it takes but its worth it.

Each year we look at what changes have happened in the industry and where it is going. Then what can we do to help position indie artists to gain insight to help them navigate changes. I am proud that we have always been diverse in artists and genres, we were one of the first to focus on health and wellness, and we have also been working on export opportunities so artists can go to other markets.

How does the artist selection process work?

We listen to every submission. It’s the music first, it starts there. If a song catches our ear we look further into the artist. See what they are doing, how active they are etc. We may do this for a few rounds – meaning we listen again in case we missed something the first time. It takes a lot of time but we are looking to select a diverse range of styles.

Can you name a few artists from past festivals that have gone on to mainstream success?

Walk Off the Earth, Pale Waves, Terra Lightfoot, Stephanie Rainey, Twin Flames

Aside from the music, Indie101 has become a huge part of Indie Week Canada. Tell us more about that.

Indie artists have it hard in the sense that they have to be the artists and run their business. Indie 101 is about education through mentorship sessions, networking through b2b sessions, while giving artists a platform to ask questions. It is a HUGE component to what we do and believe in. Guest speakers have included John Densmore (drummer for The Doors), Mike Clink (producer for Guns n Roses), Glen Matlock (Sex Pistols), Phil X (Bon Jovi).

What events have become the annual highlight of the festival?

Theres a few – the opening party there’s a lot of excitement in the air as well we get to showcase a lot of our international acts. The awards have become a favorite as we get to see the best acts performing their best material as well its a celebration /closing party for the festival. There is just so much positivity in the room as many of the bands have just made a lot of new contact and friends. It’s a good way to wrap up the festival. And of course, the true end of the festival is our live band karaoke at The Bovine until 4am!

Tech has become a big part of Indie Week Canada. Where do you see the future of the independent music industry going?

It’s a little scary with AI coming on strong but I hope tech is a place to continue to help the artists. A big part of tech helping artists is online distribution and royalty collection. I wish services available now were around when I was a musician.

Learn more about Indie Week Canada HERE and make your plans to be there, or even submit to perform now.