The year 2020 was life-changing. COVID-19 hit the world in a way no one could have imagined.
Though some businesses were still able to operate throughout the pandemic, the music industry was one of the categories hit the hardest.
Suddenly musicians, producers, record labels, booking agents, and band managers were at a standstill. With everything being shut down outdoor and indoor concert venues were halted. Even as the year progressed and things began to open up, restrictions to live music made it extremely difficult for musicians to perform any other way but online.
Fortunately, music will never die and musicians, songwriters, and producers are getting creative. For veterans in the industry like Rob Laidlaw, COVID has not slowed down his drive to continue to do what he loves and help other musicians in the process.
You’ve been in the music industry for a long time. How did you get your start?
I’ve been in the music Biz proper for 35 years, I started as a guitar player when I was 13, the very first song I learned to play was Stairway to Heaven (Classic Led Zepp). I started songwriting from the get-go and realized this ability to create songs was a huge asset in any band. I switched to Bass Guitar around age 18 randomly, in hindsight it was a great decision as it became my professional instrument for live performance and career position almost exclusively.
Who were your musical inspirations?
I started singing in my local church choir when I was 8 years old. It became clear I had a natural ability for vocalizing and I soon became the main soloist in the choir. My choirmaster Marc DuBois went on to become a major league Soprano singer, and he encouraged me to take music seriously at that young age.
My biggest influence and reason I started playing music was David Bowie, his artistry and writing was unparalleled in the pop-rock world. I would mimic his style and vocal techniques, and it was my admiration for his diversity that led me to my first band. I was a huge Max Webster and RUSH fan too both seminal Canadian bands, at age 28 I had the opportunity to tour and record with Kim Mitchell (a thrill of a lifetime) and found myself performing some classic Max songs. It was an honor to be a small part of his musical legacy, it changed my musical life for the positive on all levels.
You’ve toured with a lot of bands over the years. Who have been some of your favorites to tour with and why?
I’d say, Kim Mitchell, Platinum Blonde, Mike Reno (Loverboy), Honeymoon Suite, JackSoul, too many to mention really but that’s a start.
What made you decide to pivot into songwriting and producing?
I’ve always written songs from the moment I picked up the guitar. I realized early on the most important member of any band is the songwriter, its the lifeblood of the music industry and what differentiates one band from another (Rolling Stones vs The Beatles) I’m currently producing and writing with about hf a dozen artists right now, its a remarkable revolution we find ourselves in today, the pandemic is changing the world forever and we have an opportunity to transform it in amazing ways. Ryan Connelly is an awesome country artist about to explode exponentially on the scene as is Lisa Froment (the new Amanda Marshall), Taylor Landry (Halsey Meets Marrin Morris ) really excited about the future of young up and coming Canadian artists. I’m always looking to develop and help new artists, from signwriting to producing and getting them to market. I’ve had a great deal of success as a songwriter and received a JUNO nomination for song of the year.
If you could work with any artist, who would it be and why?
I’d like to work with any and all new up and coming artists, there is nothing more rewarding than helping and being of service to the new breed of talent on this awesome journey ..I’m a recovering alcoholic( 6 years sober yay) and the clarity that i have gained in the last 6 years creatively and technically is remarkable, it has inspired me to motivate the new breed of musicians and promote them..they are our future, my friend. Music is truly the universal language and I’m fortunate to have been able to exploit my Universe/God-given talents all my life. Music can save, elevate change our world for the better, I’ve seen it all my life, so grateful.
March 2020 was devastating for a lot of businesses and the music industry took a really big hit. What is the industry going to look like after COVID in your opinion?
That’s the billion-dollar question, I don’t think we can predict rationally, so here is my irrational idea. We are kinder, compassionate, giving and a culture willing to help each other with the broken bits of all of us, humanity needs a wakeup call. I hope to leave this world a tiny bit better for being here, even if it’s making a moment incrementally better by creating uplifting music. That’s my aim.
Do you have any advice for musicians to help them push through these hard times?
We are remarkable creatures built to handle the maximal load in life. The music industry has taken a brutal hit, but original music will always be a huge motivator to each generation. We will prevail, life is hard, harsh, and unfair and this has been the hardest thing we have faced in the last 80 years as a planet, lets change our attitudes and make it as positive as we can. It starts with the individual, it starts with you.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the music industry right now? Where would they even begin?
I’d say it starts with writing a great song and producing great music. That’s where you start …I like this analogy “you can’t make the call if you don’t have a great phone”.I can help every new artist from any style get to market, I’ve worked with the biggest writers and stars in this country and the world for that matter, and it’s not rocket science. It takes a plan, a direction, striving to better each day. Begin by taking the first step, reach out, and get moving. Educate, Youtube is a great resource, and then reach out to me, Ill help you from A to Z and get you moving in the right direction.
What can we expect from you in the coming months?
I’ve got a great songwriting workshop coming up on the 26-28 of March, with world-class writers giving invaluable advice on how to write hit songs. I’m excited about the new talent I’m producing and the songs that are being created are going to rock our collective socks off … live music is sadly on hold for now, but it comes back too and the new generation of singers, bands, and songs will take us into the future with optimism and hope, that is what I predict. Always feel free to reach out if you want to get started on the road to a meaningful career in music.
For more information about Rob Laidlaw’s upcoming workshops or if you’re interested in working with him, visit his website at http://www.robertlaidlawmusic.com/ .
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