A Tribe Called Red’s success has been the perfect example of grassroots, independent career building. Relentless touring, hard work, two releases quarter-backed by the band and inventive marketing strategies have all paid off. Over just a few years, the band has built a solid fan-base throughout Canada and the United States and can sell out 1,000 seat rooms in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Early adopters and press support have helped the band quickly build their profile. This has been solidified by two Polaris Music Prize nominations (long listed for their first album and short listed for their second).
A Tribe Called Red became eligible for the Radio Starmaker Fund’s programs toward the end of 2013 and since then, Starmaker has acted as an amplifier for this work. It has allowed ATCR to take on more and better opportunities, such as the inherent risks in developing an audience via touring. This support has enabled them to better their touring conditions, which in turn has allowed them to go on to do 100+ shows a year.
RSF touring and marketing programs have also helped the band move into the European market, especially the UK and France. These funds have helped sustain a multi-stage strategy, which has been instrumental in allowing ATCR to enter these foreign markets with music that is still very niche and specific. The audience in Europe has had little to no exposure to Aboriginal music and have a limited understanding of the struggles that First Nations peoples have been forced to overcome. For a band like A Tribe Called Red, who have such a strong message and multiple layers to their artistry, “settling” in Europe requires time, patience and continuous education.
We are thankful to the Radio Starmaker Fund for giving us the means to not only develop ATCR’s career but to also extend and perpetuate the cultural dialogue. All of this certainly had an influence on the band’s winning of the Juno for Breakthrough Group of the Year last March.
In 2015, the band will be releasing their third album. It will be their first fully coordinated campaign and we look forward to working with Starmaker again to bring the band to the next level of their career.