If launching his new company at CMW recently could be termed a test, then it’s one Matt Smallwood passed with Flying Colours. That is actually the name of his new label and artist services company, and the popular Canadian music industry veteran reports a positive response to the well-timed launch.
“CMW was always in the crosshairs for our launch,” Smallwood told FYI in an interview yesterday. “I’m a big fan of CMW and what they do, so it was a perfect time. I spent the last four to five months prepping the message and the offering of what we’re doing.”
An official press release notes that “Flying Colours offers a suite of à-la-carte artist and label services that can be tailored to each act, including project management, digital marketing, publicity, radio promotion, tour marketing, distribution and much more.”
Flying Colours President Smallwood explains that “"Canada is a tough market to scale. It's relatively small but its musical output, much like its geography, is huge. We're seeing a trend toward labels, artists and even managers tailoring their own teams around certain projects, bringing on for-hire experts like ourselves, during the busy times and staffing down when bands are off-cycle or in other territories working. Flying Colours is able to ebb and flow with those marketplace demands."
To FYI, he adds that “We tell people we are rather like a label for hire, with added a la carte services. I wanted the entry point for bands to be good for them. Perhaps you’re a band wanting to start via a college radio campaign by us, and that will grow into something bigger. This is rather a touchy feely relationship business.”
Smallwood brings a wealth of experience to the table. He started out in independent distribution in the late 1990s, then joined MapleCore's distribution arm, Fontana North Distribution, in 2005 and was a key figure in the company's success. In 2013, Smallwood left MapleCore and forayed into artist management, label and consulting services, working with UK punk act The Stranglers, Platinum Blonde, Julian Taylor Band and Luke McMaster along with labels Last Gang Records, Slaight Music and more recently Cordova Bay Records and Fierce Panda Canada. Cordova Bay Records continues to be a client of Smallwood's at Flying Colours.
"I do think my experience at Maple was invaluable," he tells us. "We were able to work with a lot of different bands at many different levels, and that is how I view Flying Colours. I feel like I’m at my best as more of a project manager, overseeing the different pieces of a puzzle. Whether it is things on the artist development side or critiquing content, I like to serve the artists on a bigger picture level, then use a team behind me to put all the pieces together.”
Smallwood notes that “the digital marketing and the social media stuff really intrigues me. Our creative services are a strength of the company – artist development and on the social media side. Prepping all the pieces and organizing and presenting social media properly is a huge factor now, and it speaks to me on a certain level.”
Venturing into the artist management field has also paid dividends for Smallwood. “It broadened my experience and I have learnt a lot since leaving Maple.”
He acknowledges that the Ontario Music Fund presents potential business opportunities. “I’ve had three or four phonecalls in the last couple of days on OMF-related projects for us. The OMF want local teams, local hires and studios, and guys like me on these projects.”
As a transplanted Brit, Smallwood keeps a close watch on industry trends in the UK music biz. “Back in March, four of the top five records on the charts there were run by artist services companies. It’s a fertile and exciting place to be in the business and that is kind of why I wanted to do this here.”
The company's website is flyingcolours.me