VICTORIA – Navigating through that turbulent sea known as the music business has always been a challenge, but lately those waters just seem to be getting rougher and rougher. Just ask Saanich resident and musician, Sjoerd Meyer.
“Gone are the days when you can just focus on your music,” says Meyer. “Now you have to handle all aspects of the business, including recording and promotion.”
Meyer is the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the Carlines, a local band specializing in West Coast indie folk-rock. Along with producer/guitarist Dave Parfit, Meyer has just completed the band’s self-produced EP, ‘still the sun will rise’.
“The EP came out in February,” says Meyer. “We are now working on finalizing the full album, which will be out later this year.”
For Meyer and Parfit, getting their music out to the listener is a real labour of love. With the EP they initially recorded tracks at Infinity Studios. Then came some finishing touches at Parfit’s home studio and some additional tracking at Poplar Sound Studios up-island. Finally, after the tracks were sent to Baker Studios for mastering, they had the completed EP in their hands (well, actually, available on-line). But then came the hard part – promotion.
The ‘still the sun will rise’ tour took the Carlines out on tour to Edmonton, Banff and Calgary. It is not surprising that Meyer chose to ply those particular waters, given that Alberta is where he grew up.
“I was born in the Netherlands, but we moved to Alberta when I was thirteen. I did start my musical career in Alberta, and even put out a solo album in 2008. However, a friend encouraged me to move to Victoria.” With a smile he adds, “I fell in love with the West Coast, a girl and the Victoria scene.”
Meyer met Parfit in 2012 and they instantly connected. Esme John (bass, vocals) joined shortly afterwards, along with Mitch Farley (percussion). Now they had all hands on deck, and as the Carlines they’ve been playing the local scene ever since. Even though recorded music has been the bands prime focus to this point, putting on good live music is the next important step.
“Our audiences really engage with the music,” says Meyer. “They leave the show still singing our songs.”
Both Meyer and Parfit agree that a good name and a good logo are essential elements in their promotion. So why the name ‘Carlines’?
“It’s a nautical term,” explains Meyer. “A carline is a beam on a vessel. My wife, Sarah, came up with it. She used to work for SALTS (Sail and Life Training Society).”
Great music, a great West Coast name, a great logo (check it out on their website) – a recipe for success? Maybe. But the music industry of 2014 is no place for smooth sailing. CD sales have plummeted in recent years as listeners increasingly turn to the internet as their source for recorded music.
“It’s great for the consumer,” comments Parfit. “You can find any music you want. But it makes it that much harder for bands to make it big.”
Bands like the Carlines must now rely on royalties, TV placements and on-line sales as sources of revenue. There are also competitions and grants available, but none of it adds up to the ‘road to riches’ that modern music once promised. Then again, the Carlines are realists, and their aims aren’t really that lofty.
“Sure, you’d like to be big enough to be a household name,” says Meyer with a shrug, “but let’s face it, we’ll be making music regardless. It’s the personal satisfaction. We would just like to be successful enough to make a living doing it.”