In the music 'business'

Doug Gallant
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Lennie Gallant performs on stage at the Delta Hotel during the ECMA's Two for the Road event Thursday.

When all is said and done, the East Coast Music Awards is about doing business.

It's about booking festival dates, club dates and dates in soft seat theatres.

It's about finding management, booking agents and publicists.

It's about getting media exposure that may help you acquire all or any of the above.

It's about making all the time, energy and sacrifices you've made to pursue a career in music pay off.

And all of that is happening today at the Delta Prince Edward and at venues all over the city where talent buyers have gone in search of the next big East Coast act.

Depending on what kind of act they're looking for they carefully choose the showcases they will attend from a list that grows longer each year.

For some, its the Discovery Stage, where new acts looking to break out get their first real major exposure before an audience like this.

Others look for stages showcasing artists who've already paid their dues and are ready to advance to the next stage of their career.

This morning, that started at 10 a.m. when international delegates who've come from across Canada, the U.S. and overseas found their way to the Delta ballroom for  what's billed as Two For The Road.

Two for The Road is exactly what it sounds like.

You get just enough time to do two songs, make your sales pitch and exit stage left while the next act sets up.

Being offered just 10 minutes to get on, play two songs, make your pitch and get off might seem intimidating but there's no shortage of artists who'd love to have that opportunity.

Just look at the lineup for Thursday's morning's Two For The Road stage, Chris Colepaugh and The Crew, P.E.I. singer-songwriter Lennie Gallant, Celtic fiddler Dwayne Cote and gypsy jazz guitarist Duane Andrews, both established artists, up and coming Newfoundland and Labrador act The Dardanelles and blues rocker Charlie A'Court.

All wanted to be there.

Lynn Daigle, bass player for Chris Colepaugh and a seasoned ECMA veteran, said it's a great gig to get, however short it may be.

"We did a Two For The Road last year before an audience of international delegates and it proved to be one of the best shows we did in terms of the response we got from it. Two for the Road can lead to opportunities."

Rik Barron, a past ECMA winner who spent a number of years on P.E.I. before returning to Newfoundland and Labrador, said it may not look like it to people who don't work in the industry but a lot of business is done here.

"People look like they're just having fun and listening to music but many of those people are doing business," Barron said.

Business is done in the hallways, in the restaurants and bars, in hospitality suites and in at least one case I'm aware of in Cape Breton in an elevator.

Sometimes it happens right away — the first time they played the ECMAs Barachois was approached almost as soon as they left the stage — sometimes it doesn't happen until after the fact when  buyers have an opportunity to process all that they've seen and heard without the pressure of getting to the next showcase.

One buyer, who opted not to disclose his identity because he didn't want to tip his hat just yet, said he's already seen two acts he thinks he may have a spot for this summer.

"It's only Thursday afternoon and I've already seen two acts I'd never heard of before who blew me away. We've still got three days to go. That's why I love the ECMAs, you always  discover incredibly good people you've never heard of."

Of course talent buyers aren't the only ones who make discoveries at the ECMAs.

Thousands of people whose only connection to the ECMAs is their love of music will discover new artists this weekend who will become favourites.

You could see it Thursday in the faces of people in the lobby of the Delta who'd stopped in front of Radio ECMA to hear a live performance by an artist virtually none had ever heard before.

You could also see it when people in the lobby heard Ben Caplan play on a stage set up in the restaurant area.

And you will see it all weekend.

This event continues to be a wonderful voyage of discovery for music fans of all stripes.

That a number of these artists will be able to  make their trip to the ECMAs pay for itself with work down the road is a big fat bonus.

Geographic location: East Coast, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador Canada U.S. Cape Breton

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