New Telus Initiative Promotes Indie Music

Beekeeper | BCBusiness
A still captured from Vancouver indie band Beekeeper’s new video.

A new business model that supports local musical talent gets backing by Telus

It’s no secret that the music industry has changed dramatically in the last decade. “My job is about being a grant writer, radio promoter, publicist, accountant and social media hack as much as it is about trying to put on a great show,” explains Devon Lougheed of Vancouver indie-rock band Beekeeper.

Dan Costello and Tony Yacowar were students at UVic when the idea of Public Records was born four years ago. As band members themselves, “we wanted to come up with a model that would support independent artists in a creative way,” says Yacowar.

Enter Telus, seeking initiatives that support local talent. “We have the motto ‘we give where we live,’” explains Telus director of content Prem Gill. “Public Records seemed like a great fit, both supporting innovative new platforms and bringing people together to collaborate in interesting ways on artistic projects.”

Public Records offers grants of up to $5,000 to teams of musicians and filmmakers in B.C. and Alberta in order to fund production of a music video. Twenty-eight grants were awarded by an independent jury in late June this year, with an emphasis on support for smaller communities. Artists retain the rights to their work.

Beekeeper teamed with Kelowna-based print, video/motion graphics and web design studio Faked Potatoes for its successful application. “Living in the Okanagan, we felt I would have a better chance getting picked in this region,” explains Faked Potatoes owner, director and filmmaker Brandon William Fletcher. “I’ve been shooting videos to music for about 15 years but I hadn’t shot a real music video before.”

Public Records also strives to support its artists with more than just money. “A lot of these people may have very little experience, so we produced a series of how-to videos, giving the tools to make quality content,” adds Gill.

Telus will broadcast the finished product through its Optik Local on-demand community-access portal and its website. Around Labour Day, a Public Records special will showcase the videos in a long-form program format.
Beekeeper’s video shoot mirrored the broader indie-band experience. “We were wearing these beautiful masks of our own faces. On the inside, it was like wearing a cardboard box with no eyeholes,” says Lougheed. “So often as an indie artist we are working blind. Public Records were great at providing examples of what they wanted and taking out some of the guesswork.”