Tamara Stanners, Executive Director of The Peak radio station in Vancouver, has played a huge role in getting The Peak Performance Project running over the past 7 years. Now in it's final year for BC, the $5.2 million Peak Performance Project has given out hundreds of thousands of dollars to local up-and-coming musicians to help move their careers to the next level.
Tamara talked to Geyser about her favourite memories from the PPP, why it's so important to support local music, the biggest struggles musicians face these days, and more!
G: How crazy does it feel that this is the final year for the Peak Performance Project in BC? Does it feel like time went fast?
TS: These past 7 years have gone by so quickly. Like I blinked 7 times - and wham! It's almost over! But, when I think back about all of the amazing artists we've met and worked with, I realize how much has gone into these years. And I feel truly humbled.
G: What is the most important piece of advice you’d give to new bands, given the bands you’ve seen succeed through this competition?
TS: Write and record undeniably great music. Have a killer stage show. Stay true to who you are through the whole process, but understand that as good as your art is, your business has to be just as solid. (Sorry, that was way more than one piece of advice...).
G: Do you have a favourite memory from the project this year, or one from “all-time” with the PPP?
TS: Oh man, that's like asking me which of my 5 kids is my favourite! One memory...that's impossible. But, I still remember the very first PPP Finale at the Commodore. Bend Sinister, The Left and We Are The City performed to a sold out crowd. It was so exciting to see Vancouverites so excited about three local bands. The sheer joy that happened on stage when We Are The City was awarded the top prize, and Cayne McKenzie fell to his knees in disbelief, is ingrained in my brain. It was the moment that I knew we were onto something really magical.
G: Why do you think it’s so important to support up-and-coming musicians?
TS: It's really quite simple. Without fans, artists can not survive. Artists get fans by being heard, whether on the radio, online, in concert or through friends. We've seen the difference that radio support makes for bands. All we have to do is look back at the successes of some of the PPP bands like Said the Whale, Dear Rouge, Current Swell, Bend Sinister, Gay Nineties to see that the radio support really helped lift their careers, and not just here in Vancouver, but right across the country.
G: What would you say the biggest struggle bands face these days, even if they’re getting radio play and some exposure?
TS: People don't pay for music anymore. Let me re-phrase that. There are so many ways to access music for free that artists don't have the same access to revenue that they did when CDs, and before that cassettes, albums and singles were how people got their music. As a result, artists have had to make touring and merchandise the cash cows. It makes the artist's life incredibly challenging.
G: With The Peak, are there any struggles for radio these days, with streaming services widely available online, etc? Or do you find there is more engagement because of social media and cellphones?
TS: It's funny, because through the course of it's history, there has always been a belief that radio was on it's way out due to competition. First TV, then video, now the internet. The business of radio has had to adapt dramatically to the new technologies available. Streaming services have definitely cut into our business. But, I like to think that all of this new technology can be an extension of what we do. Allowing us to stream our signal worldwide, share blogs about artists and local events that we believe in to a brand new audience. It is exciting to think of how we can use social mediums to extend our signal. We just have to continually be extra creative creators. And, when it comes down to it, the one thing radio has is the ability to be local. Streaming services can't do that.
G: What’s the best thing about working with The Peak?
TS: I am not joking when I say that starting the PEAK and the PPP from scratch 8 years ago was my childhood dream coming true. When I was 6 years old I heard a radio feature on the Beatles. From that moment all I wanted to do was crawl into the box where the voices and the music was coming from. I wanted to share the music and the stories of the artists. Being able to do that, and being able to see the effect that supporting local bands that I absolutely love has had on their careers has been better than I ever could have dreamed. I feel truly blessed
G: Where is your favourite place to hang-out in Vancouver?
TS: That is a tough one….again. There are so many really really good restaurants that I love to hang out at. I don't even want to start naming them. (Ok, but only two, Mamie Taylors and The Flying Pig(s) ).
And for live music, I really love the Biltmore. And the Imperial. And Guilt and Co. (Don't be offended The Vogue, or The Commodore...I love you too.)
G: Last, one of our readers would like to know: “Tamara is so cool. Can I be her?” Can they?
TS: Whoa! I am flattered, and honoured, and blushing and thank you for asking. I feel like the un-coolest person in the world most of the time. But the answer is no. You don't want to be me. That would be boring. You should be the best you that you can be. If there are things that I've done that you would like to do, aspire to them, but do them even better than I did, or could, because I think you can. And you'll be way cooler.
But seriously, thanks again. You made my day with that question.
G: Thank you for your time Tamara, and all your work helping local musicians thrive!