Making Connections in the Music Industry

By Annette Dawm, WorkStory Ambassador

Tim Fraser has been the Events and Activities Programmer for the Fanshawe College Student Union for the last three years, taking over the role previously occupied by Pat Maloney. Tim mentioned that he is still referred to as “The New Pat” all these years later, however he has been successfully making the position his own by booking big name acts for the college such as Dallas Smith and Fred Penner. Tim has often been a guest lecturer for the Music Industry Arts program at Fanshawe (where he was once a student) and more recently he has also helped Sheridan College book performers for their events.

In addition to his work as the Events and Activities Programmer, Tim is the owner and Creative Director of Murdoch Music Management, a company he runs with his wife, Tanya Chopp-Fraser.  “We are an artist management and music industry consulting business. I kind of started it myself, as I come from the music industry.” Tim jokingly added that he made Tanya join him as a business partner. However, her marketing skills proved to be a real asset to Murdoch Music. “My wife is very, very smart. [Tanya] works in marketing…. She came up with the name of the company and the logo… so really, I kind of think it’s her company and I help her with it. That’s probably how it should be, but yeah, it’s just the two of us”, he explained. Together they have interviewed artists such as Frank Turner and Northcote for their Murdoch Music podcast, available on iTunes.  

Not one to be star-struck very often, Fraser said that his most memorable guest on the show so far was children’s entertainer, Fred Penner. Penner did a show at Fanshawe in 2015, and much to Tim’s surprise, he also agreed to an interview.  “I [got] an email from Fred! It was just like, ‘Hey Tim, looking forward to the show! I would love to sit down and chat with you!’…. I lost it. I screenshotted it, and posted it, and texted it to my brother and my parents! I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is weird! I can’t believe I’m at that point now where I’m getting an email from Fred Penner!”

In addition to Fred, Tim noted that having done interviews with people like Lindi Ortega, Eric Alper and the President of FACTOR have added credibility to his podcast and so it has become easier for him to interview other people in the industry. All he does is ask, usually via email. Fraser tries to reach out to the publicity contacts listed on an artist’s website, especially if they are on tour in London. “The worst they can say is no, and then you don’t get to interview them.”

On the managing side, Tim acts as the booking agent for singer-songwriter Ken Yates and the two-man circus freak show, “Monsters of Schlock”. Although he couldn’t mention the artists involved, Fraser is excited to expand his roster very soon, because for him, it’s the best part of his job! “I really love the artist management and consulting and helping people write grants. That’s the whole reason I started that company… to help artists with the monotony and the business side, because a lot of really creative people aren’t good at business. It’s a completely different mindset and work ethic, too.”

A life-long musician himself, Tim grew up playing classical violin and was involved in the Suzuki music program. At one time, Tim could be found playing in orchestras but he now only “dabbles” with the violin. He traded it in for the guitar, and later, a saxophone. “…High school hit, hormones started kicking in and I thought to myself, ‘I can’t land a girlfriend playing the violin! This is so nerdy!’ …So I taught myself how to play the guitar. I’m now in my 30s and look back on it, and I see people like Tim Chaisson who plays violin very well, and my wife wishes that I still played the violin.”

Fraser began writing and singing his own punk rock and ska songs in high school and eventually toured Canada as a member of the band, Angry Agency. Now as the person who is responsible for bringing acts to Fanshawe and other venues, Tim has been both the performer and the promoter. He uses his personal experiences to help make better events for everybody involved.  “It helps a lot coming from the performing side of things just because … I’ve been on the other side of it. So it helps with all the hospitality stuff and the planning of it. I know that when I was an artist touring around, what I would’ve wanted to know from the promoter…. I really do pride myself in how I treat artists and performers when they come on campus. I make a concerted effort to make sure they’re comfortable and having a good time…. A lot of people don’t realize [the performers] are actually people and they’re providing a service so you’ve got to treat them well,” Tim explained. Part of making an artist comfortable involves following their rider and using common sense. For example, Tim said that if someone asked him for a Diet Pepsi, he wouldn’t give them a Coke Zero.

Tim Fraser’s advice?  “Take any opportunity that you can get, work your ass off, do a good job and just be nice to people. Treat people with respect and don’t burn your bridges-- the entertainment business is a very, very small world where a lot of people know each other and a lot of people talk.  I’ve seen people lose clients and lose work.”  Tim gave up three well-paying jobs to work as an intern for True North Records six years ago in order to get a foot in the door. He has no regrets because the connections he has made helped him become “a viable member of the Canadian Music Industry”.