New record label aims to bring Indigenous music to the masses

Launching a brand new venture in the middle of global pandemic may not seem like the best idea but it’s working out pretty well for Red Music Rising.

The Indigenous music company, announced last August, is a partnership between Coalition Music and APTN.

Director and artist manager Matt Maw says the pandemic allowed him to focus on building the company and the brand.

But he acknowledges the music industry has been absolutely devastated by the pandemic caused by COVID-19.

“Particularly in Toronto, what I’m seeing firsthand is not only are artists struggling and industry struggling but venues are struggling. Really important, historic spaces for performances across the country but at home here in Toronto as well. Everybody is really, really struggling,” says Maw.

Although it might be hard to imagine attending a festival right now or even a concert with 20 or more people, Maw is hoping  by the end of the year concerts make a return, allowing artists to tour, bring in some money and breathe some life back into the sector.

Red Music Rising has continued working with artists throughout the pandemic, including the release of the single Blue Moon Drive, a collaboration by Juno award-winning artists iskwē and Tom Wilson.

Creating a music company owned, managed and operated entirely by Indigenous individuals first began more than five years ago.

Maw feels it will fill a big gap between the traditional music industry and Indigenous artists.

“In the last few years, we’ve experienced an explosion of Indigenous talent emerging from coast to coast,” he said. “And it’s gotten to the point where I felt as though there was a treasure trove of talent that wasn’t necessarily being catered to and being serviced the way that it needed to be.”

Maw says he’s striving to bring Indigenous artists into the mainstream.

“Top of the Junos, top of the charts. I’m looking for folks to work with who are interested in making a name for themselves internationally as well as nationally, and making sure that moving forward that we have Indigenous representation.”

Maw says he also wants to work on dispeling the notion that Indigenous music is a genre.

“I’m working with incredible artists who happen to be Indigenous,” says Maw.

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