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Digital Bootcamp

Presented by Toronto Blues Society, Digital Bootcamp will take place on Monday, April 8th. TBS will be back with 4 free panels on digital and social media topics specifically chosen for musicians. The Bootcamp will take place at Small World Music Centre from 5pm to 9pm. Sandwiches and light refreshments will be available.

Some exciting names are joining forces with TBS to speak on the panels and guide musicians! Please see below for more info about the participants.

Digital Video – Video & Youtube Explained | 5pm – 5:50pm<
with Gavin McLeod (Musican & Youtuber), Renan Yildizdogan (Gypsy Soul Records), Emily Smart (Six Shooter Records), Derek Andrews (Moderator)

Video Critique Session | 6pm – 6:50pm
with Josh Grossman (TD Toronto Jazz Fest), Sarah Kim-Turnbull (Markham Jazz Fest), Michael Occhipinti (Hugh’s Room Live), Derek Andrews (Moderator)

Digital Dollars | 7:10pm – 8pm
with Martin Gangnier (Re:Sound), Darryl Hurs (CD Baby), Paul Sanderson (Sanderson Entertainment Law, Moderator), Samantha Martin (Musician)

Digital Marketing | 8:10pm – 9pm
with Sarah French (Sarah French Publicity), Chaka V. Grier (NOW Magazine), Dan McKinnon (Musician, Moderator), Alicja Stasiuk (Koerner Hall)

When: Monday, April 8th
Where: Small World Music Centre – 180 Shaw St., Toronto
Time: 5pm-9pm
Admission: Free!
Click here to RSVP on the Facebook Event Page!


Digital Video – Video & Youtube Explained | 5pm – 5:50pm

GAVIN MCLEOD | MusicianGavin McLeod is an eighteen year old singer, songwriter, blues guitar player and Youtube personality from Milton, Ontario. Gavin has been playing music for over ten years and has performed as the leader of the band Hawthorne, as a solo artist and in his blues trio. Gavin has an online following of over 100 thousand subscribers with over 16 million views. He also performed as a musician on two seasons of Family Channel’s TV

RENAN YILDIZDOGAN | Gyspy Soul Records
Renan Yildizdogan is the founder of Gypsy Soul Records. Based in Toronto, the label is home to Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar, Julian Taylor Band, Stone River and many more roots/blues artists. Gypsy Soul Promotions is the label’s services department focusing on Canadian, American and European radio promotion and grants for blues, folk, roots, and soul artists.

Video Critique Session | 6pm – 6:50pm

JOSH GROSSMAN | TD Toronto Jazz Festival Since graduating from the University of Toronto’s Jazz Performance Program, Josh Grossman has worked with The Glenn Gould School at The Royal Conservatory, Young Voices Toronto, Continuum Contemporary Music and, since 2010, as Artistic Director for Toronto Downtown Jazz, producers of the annual TD Toronto Jazz Festival. As a trumpeter, Josh has played in the Chris Hunt Tentet since its inception; he is the founding Artistic Director and Conductor for the 18-piece Toronto Jazz Orchestra, now in its 20th year.

SARAH KIM-TURNBULL | Markham Jazz Festival
Sarah Kim Turnbull is an artist, arts manager and promoter. She is the Artistic Director of the Markham Jazz Festival and Executive Director of Euphonia, Toronto’s indie classical orchestra. Sarah Kim owns and operates an independent, boutique booking agency specializing in Canadian and European tours.

A nine-time JUNO Award nominee, Michael Occhipinti is a versatile, sound-sculpting guitarist and acclaimed band leader/composer/arranger/artistic director/educator, who has spent decades freely moving between genres, and anything involving modern guitar sounds.  An active touring and recording band leader and side musician, Michael also teaches at Humber College, Centennial College, and the Royal Conservatory of Music.  Michael has served as Artistic Director for Lakefield Summer Music Camp and The Markham Jazz Festival, and is currently programming The Etobicoke Jazz Verspers Series and Hugh’s Room Live.

Digital Dollars | 7:10pm – 8pm

Martin is the Vice President of Licensing and has been with Re:Sound since 2006. He oversees all licensing activities and results which include outreach campaigns, business development, sales, customer service, as well as major partnerships and agreements. Read more in here:

Darryl Hurs has a 25+ year history in the music business including launching and running one of Canada’s largest indie music festivals and conference, Indie Week. Recently hired as the director of market development for CD Baby in Canada. Past positions include design and  branding/marketing for Live Nation as a freelancer (projects included work for known artists such as U2, Nickelback, Madonna, Beyonce, Jay-Z and Dave Matthews and the launching of, retail buyer at HMV, booker for one of Toronto’s top live music venues (The Rivoli), and performing in various musical acts.)

Samantha Martin is a Toronto based Band Leader (Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar), and business woman. Her latest recording was nominated for a 2019 Juno, multiple Maple Blues Awards, and the band received “Road Gold” from CIMA for selling over 25000 tickets in a 12 month period. To find out more visit

PAUL SANDERSON | Sanderson Entertainment Law
Paul is a sole practitioner in the firm Sanderson Entertainment Law in Toronto.  He is also an author, instructor and musician.  For more information please visit the firm website at

Digital Marketing | 8:10pm – 9pm

SARAH FRENCH | Sarah French PublicitySarah French has earned a reputation as the go-to publicist for musicians. She has an extensive client roster of some of the best in Canadian blues and roots music. A TBS board member, she was also recently awarded the Keeping the Blues Alive Award from The Blues Foundation in Memphis.

Chaka V. Grier is a contributor to NOW Toronto and Musicworks magazine, as well as the soul columnist for Her work has appeared NPR, O, the Oprah Magazine and Elle, to name few.

DAN MCKINNON| Musician / Social Media Digital Marketing
Toronto-based Blues Rock guitarist Dan McKinnon has been working hard to establish himself as a Canadian Blues artist on the rise. Winner of the 2017 Toronto Blues Society Talent Search and the 2017 Amy Louie Grossmans Scholarship, his latest album The Cleaner has received widespread critical acclaim across North America and Europe.

ALICJA STASIUK | The Royal Conservatory of MusicAlicja (Ala) is a dancer, singer and a passionate arts manager, specialized in social media marketing and community outreach. She works as a Marketing Coordinator at The Royal Conservatory of Music since May 2018, following graduation from Arts Management program at Centennial College. Over last 2 years, she worked with various musicians based in Toronto helping them improve their presence on social media platforms. Before moving to Canada she worked as a Social Media Manager for PROMNI Folk Dance and Song Ensemble at Warsaw University of Life Sciences.

Get yourself prepared with snap information on digital and social media by our Bootcamp leads Dan McKinnon & Gavin McLeod!


Demystifying Social Media for Musicians – by Dan McKinnon

With so many different social media platforms available (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram….I could go on), it is understandable that many musicians have a tough time figuring out how to build an effective social media marketing plan and knowing which platforms they should be on. Fortunately, getting a handle on how to get the most out of social media is not as hard as learning how to solo over John Coltrane’s Giant Steps.

When building a social media marketing plan, I have found useful to think of various channels, from Facebook to Instagam, in a similar way to a band playing a song. Just like a guitarist, bass player, and drummer play contrasting parts in order to serve the song, different social media platforms can be used in their own unique ways in order to serve your larger message. For example, Instagram is built on the compelling visual, Twitter is effective any time you need to get a message out with great frequency, and Facebook is great for targeting specific audiences while having the capability to post any sort of content you can think of, such as photos, videos, and live streams. By understanding what makes each channel unique, you can leverage their strengths to suit your needs.

While it is useful to have a presence on a number of platforms, it is more important to effectively use one or two. And if it comes to just using one platform, Facebook is the one that makes the most sense to be on. Not only does the channel skew to an older demographic than Instagram and Snapchat, but it also allows for you to post a variety of sharable content such as videos, photos, live streams, and posts with an unlimited character limit. Having this ability to diversify what you post has a massive impact on how engaged your audience will be. A musician like Jack de Keyzer does a great job with this, as I often see him posting everything from gig notices to solo guitar videos.

And the best part is that all of this work does not require a large investment of time. One misconception that often comes up with working Facebook is the time required. If you are organized, working on coming up with a consistent posting schedule does not take more than a few hours a week. If you have a Facebook business page, you can even schedule all of your posts to run at any time you want.

On March 18th and 24th, I am looking forward to delving deeper into these topics at TBS’ Digital Boot Camp. If you are interested in learning more about how to effectively engage your audience online, please join us!

Youtube Breakdown – by Gavin McLeod

In the past decade, Youtube has quickly become the world’s largest video consumption platform with a massive market for music-related content. For modern blues musicians, a strong grasp of this platform could be the ticket to accessing a much broader audience.

My name is Gavin McLeod and I will be showcasing tips on making Youtube an important part of your music career. For the past six years, I have made Youtube videos ranging in topics from skateboarding to lifestyle to blues guitar. With over 17 million views and 114 thousand subscribers across two separate channels, I have found online video to be a fantastic tool to promote my music to a new generation. The reason this platform is so revolutionary for musicians is its ability to give us direct access to a worldwide audience. All a musician essentially needs to get started is a camera, an internet connection, and a musical idea. However, with millions of hours of video on Youtube, the online music video market can feel oversaturated. The challenge often becomes standing out in a crowd of other musicians also looking for that viral hit.

Long term success on the Youtube platform tends to come from supplying viewers with a product that no other creator can replicate. In my experience, showcasing personality on video can be a great way to differentiate yourself and keep viewers engaged. In the days of vinyl, artists had the luxury of showcasing who they were on the record sleeve before listeners heard the first song. In the modern age of streaming, however, it is important that artists convey their personality through Youtube instead. If you are technically proficient on your instrument, perhaps coupling your music with online tutorial videos could also help draw in a fan base as well. It is good to remember that the relationship with your Youtube viewers should be reciprocal and your channel should supply your viewers with value beyond just your music. By combining music with unique videos, be it tutorials, play-throughs, or behind the scenes videos, you can maximize your chances of standing out online. Another tip I have learned after years of making videos is that honesty, sincerity and hard work will always prevail in the long term. These days, getting tons of views seems to be a product of exaggerated “click-bait” titles as opposed to quality content. For musicians though, building a loyal fanbase comes from being honest to your viewers. It also helps to be persistent with your posting and adopt a video schedule if possible.

As a creator, there is tremendous value in finding your unique skill set outside of your music and using the technology available to you to broadcast it to the world. Although there may not be a “one size fits all” formula to Youtube success as a musician, using this personality and persistence approach can be a great starting place. Once you find your niche on the Youtube platform, it can provide endless opportunity for the modern blues musician.

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TBS logo and WBR artwork by Barbara Klunder

The Toronto Blues Society acknowledges the annual support of the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and project support from FACTOR< and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s Private Broadcasters, The Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, SOCAN, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

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