It’s another Friday Special edition here on Romance That Rocks Your World ~ with a highly interesting, versatile and glamorous guest!
In the not so distant past, I’ve brought you a writer and rock star’s wife as well as an outstanding rock photographer. Today, it is my tremendous pleasure to introduce you another industry insider: Please give it up for Cameron Tilbury, CEO of MapleStar Music & Media!
Cameron and I connected in November of last year during my debut on the Siren FM Midweek Drive Edition and we’ve been chatting online and offline ever since. Normally, it’s Cameron’s job to promote his artist and new talent and I thought it would be fun to turn the table on him and place him in the limelight for the day.
Cameron, hi! It’s so lovely to welcome you to my humble blog. I’m a little bit star-struck, actually. I haven’t had a CEO visit me before! 🙂
Don’t be! You’re the author and artist. All I do is tell people what you guys do. I’m not really a CEO, more like the guy that runs the joint. That’s the beauty of having your own business—you can put whatever you want on the business card!
We’ve been chatting online and offline for months now, but for those of my readers who maybe don’t know you, would you like to give us the three-line pitch: Who is Cameron Tilbury?
Wow…three lines. Okay. Here goes:
Cameron Tilbury was born in Canada and is a former musician/former radio announcer/former advertising copywriter/creative director/branding strategist who lived in England and started his own publicity company and now lives in Nashville, Tennessee, has a cowboy heart and loves his wife.
…there. How was that?
That was beautiful. A man with a cowboy heart who loves his wife and does great things for musicians and artists ~ I salute you! Now I hang out on your Facebook page, MapleStar Music & Media, quite a lot.
You say that your roots are in International Radio Promotion and Publicity…but you’re also so much more! Tell us a little bit about how you started out and how your business has developed?
That’s sort of a long story, to I’ll try to make it as brief as possible. As I said earlier, I’m a frustrated musician. I started playing Pedal Steel Guitar when I was 7 years old, and played until I was about 18. I was good enough that I could have gone pro and started touring, recording etc., but opted instead for education and the “security” of a “real” job.
My background was country music and, after university and college, I landed a job at Canada’s top country station…where I worked for about a year until they fired me for basically being immature—which I was. I tried acting—had a couple of TV commercials and did a lot of work as an extra. I missed radio though, and ended up being an announcer at a radio station near Toronto.
By the time I was approaching 30, I decided that I wanted more “regular” hours, so moved over to the creative department of the station and started writing and producing commercials. It wasn’t long before I was made Creative Director. I moved around to a few different radio stations in Toronto before deciding that in order to get to the ad agency level, I would have to change scenery. So…I moved to England.
*Nicky interrupts, excitedly* Yes, I can relate to that! Good things happen when you move to England! Where did your travels take you?
My travels took me to Kent first of all! I worked as Creative Director at an ad agency in Sittingbourne…then moved up to Nottingham, then down to Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, where I spent a couple of years. I was then approached to be the copywriter for the new in–house ad agency for Betfair in Hammersmith, London.
While I was at Betfair, I was asked to help out a Canadian artist in getting his song played on radio in the UK…that became worldwide radio promotion. At the same time, Betfair was undergoing some changes and I decided that I had enough going on that I could start my own business helping other artists get worldwide radio airplay. I added publicity to the mix and the rest is history.
I moved to Nashville a couple of years ago, and it wasn’t long before I met my wife Jo-Leah, who is a songwriter/singer here. Now MapleStar Music & Media has an office in Canada as well as here in Nashville. We have clients from the UK, Canada and USA.
What a journey! I am a little in awe here. 🙂 But tell me, what attracts you to an artist? How do you know they’ve got the… *Nicky scratches head, desperately trying to avoid the use of the words, X-factor!*…the certain something that’ll make them a success?
What attracts me to an artist? Good question—and “X-Factor” is right. They need to have talent first of all. But there’s also a certain amount of those indefinable qualities—and they’re not always the same in each artist. Some of them though are focus, drive, looks, movement, desire…hard to describe what it is, but you know it when you see it. We’re working with a young guy now, Seth Alley. He has all of that—and on top of it, he’s a great kid. Jo-Leah has written a lot with him and as writers, they really click. Big things coming soon from him!
MapleStar Music & Media Client, Seth Alley; country legend Lee Greenwood; and Cameron Tilbury. Photo courtesy of Cameron Tilbury, with thanks.
Do you find artists, or do artists find you?
A bit of both. We’re always on the look-out for clients, but sometimes they hear about us. Rock photographer Nick Elliott is a prime example. He did some work for Lesley Curtis, another of our clients. She’s based in England and so is Nick. He saw how we’re handling her and now he’s a client.
What advice would you give to an aspiring singer, songwriter or band? What are the top three ‘must do’s’ to grow success in the industry?
That’s a tough one. There’s no formula for success—and anyone who tries to tell you there is has no idea what they’re talking about. There are qualities that can help success but not create it.
I guess…first and foremost is concentrate on your craft—whether that’s being a photographer, singer, actor—and success will follow. Stardom is fleeting—and if you want to be a “star” first, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Perfect example from the sports world: David Beckham. All he ever wanted to do was play football and be the best at it. He loves it. It drives him—and success and stardom has followed him. By contrast, the sports world is littered with players who set out to be a star. Musically, look at the longevity all of the bands from the classic rock era are enjoying—careers that span 40 years, and they’re still selling out stadiums. Why? Because when they started, stardom was only a “by-product” of being the best at what they do. Too many artists of today want to be stars first—and they have brief success and then gone.
Secondly…surround yourself with people like you who have the drive to help you get where you want to be. Success breeds success.
Finally…love what you do. It’s an old saying that still rings true today: find something you love to do and you’ll never work a day in your life.
Cameron with Kix Brooks (formerly of the multi award-winning duo Brooks & Dunn). Photo courtesy of Cameron Tilbury, with thanks.
Oooh, I love that saying! I guess you’re not really working at all then by the sound of it, LOL! Cameron, have you got any success stories or interesting anecdotes you can share with us today?
I think that one of the coolest things that happened was when I was in my first radio job. Country legend Loretta Lynn was scheduled to visit the radio station for an interview. As one of the junior employees, I was sent to walk with Loretta from her hotel to the station (they were connected by a shopping mall). So here I was, meeting a true legend. Singing star, author—and the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter had taken her from country star to just “star.” I had grown up listening to her music. Anyway, I went to meet her in the lobby of the hotel and we headed over towards the radio station. She asked me if we had to get there right away and I said that we had a bit of extra time. She asked, “do y’all mind if we go shopping?”. So off we went. I was shopping for boots with Loretta Lynn. She bought a pair, and I took her to the interview. A week later she was on TV on a talk show…wearing the boots she had bought. Very cool.
How exciting is that? And go you, for going that extra mile. There’s a lesson there, too, right? Let’s turn this around a minute and ask you about the worst thing that’s ever happened ‘on the job’? Can you share a situation where you though, Gosh, I really wish I/they hadn’t done that? People love train-wreck stories simply because they can learn from them but you don’t have to answer this one…. LOL!
Another famous country star, George Jones (who recently died) left me in his wake! George was nicknamed “No Show Jones” because, for years he had a drinking problem and didn’t show up for concerts and interviews. I had waited for several hours in the lobby of his hotel to meet for a pre-arranged interview. All of a sudden, I look out the front window of the hotel and watch his tour bus pull away. I had fallen victim to No Show!
Ouch. Perhaps it was a rite of passage? I bet you took it in your stride. Speaking of stride, let’s change gear! So far, we’ve talked about artists and the kind of work you do. But what’s a typical day in the life of Cameron Tilbury?
I’m an early riser, so I’m up at 5a.m.
*Nicky quietly squeals in horror: 5 am??*
I check my emails and social media from overnight, then hit the gym for an hour. I get home and feed our dog, Dixie, then have a shower and start the day.
My office is at home, so no ridiculous commutes (I had enough of that when I took the train and tube from Peterborough to Hammersmith!). First thing is to check playlists from radio stations around the world to make sure our artists are getting played. I do that every day, 7 days a week. I could be sending out press releases and following up on them, scanning social media for opportunities for our business and our artists, talking to clients on the phone, calling radio stations…every day is a little different.
This week, as you interview me, it’s CMA Music Festival here in Nashville—probably the busiest week of the year.
I remember now, although I didn’t realize when we started this conversation! Thank you so much for taking time out of your hectic schedule to stop by here today… So how’s the CMA Music Festival shaping your days?
For example, I worked all day yesterday [Monday] and then went to the Global Showcase downtown. It was the chance for artists from all over the world to perform here in Nashville. Today [Tuesday], I have a meeting at a recording studio on Music Row—with Seth Alley’s producer—and then another international showcase tonight. Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be at another international showcase—and one of our clients, Abi Bridgeman from Southport, England will be performing. Thursday morning I’ll be at the new Music City Center ribbon cutting ceremony with Lady Antebellum, then another showcase. Friday I’ll be with Abi again at Bridgestone Arena for another performance.
In between…lots of passing out business cards, meeting with artists and other music business people, and just being seen. I also have all of my regular work to do in between, so it’s a brutal week.
Jo-Leah and Cameron backstage at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, at the recent Honor Thy Song benefit. Photo courtesy of Cameron Tilbury, with thanks.
Jo-Leah handles mostly songwriting, and we’re going into music publishing so she’ll be handling a lot of that. Lori Thompson heads our Canadian office so she keeps busy up there. She has a strong background in film, literary and fashion so she brings a lot to the table. We chat virtually every day.
Talk about multi-tasking ~ I’m breathless just reading your schedule! Apart from the many demands on your time (and the very early starts to your day!), what’s the hardest thing about your job?
Idon’t think there are any things that are particularly hard. Some things are just a little harder than others.
Spoken like a true show man. Well, I’m in awe at your energy levels, zest and enthusiasm. Thank you for a great chat! Cameron, you’ve been very gracious with your time but do we have another few seconds for the quick-fire fun questions? We do? Excellent!
I’ve loved it! Okay…let’s do rapid fire.
Rapid Fun with Cameron Tilbury
Rock, pop or jazz?
Ha! You forgot country! I’ll have to say rock AND country! My two favorite acts are Iron Maiden and George Strait.
Morning or evening person?
Totally morning. It drives my wife crazy because she’s a night owl.
*Nicky laughs*: I’m with Jo-Leah on that one!
Diet coke or cream soda?
Neither. I don’t drink many fizzy drinks—if I do, Dr Pepper. But I drink sweet tea (that’s what we call it here in the south—others may call it ice tea) and lots of coffee!
Wine or beer?
Steak dinner or fish’n’chips?
Maple syrup or golden syrup?
I guess Maple…I’m trying to lose weight so not much of either I’m afraid.
Musically speaking, would you love to go back to the 1960s, 1980s or stay in the present?
Hmm. I think here is just fine.
Big night out, or quiet night in?
Quiet night in. No question.
Three desert island disks?
Iron Maiden: A Matter of Life and Death, anything by George Strait, and a compilation of all of the songs my wife has written.
And all good things must come to an end…
Cool! I think that’s it… Oh, two more questions. Just to paraphrase our mutual friend, the one and only Alex Lewczuk:
Cameron, have you had a reasonably interesting blogospheric interaction with us today? Absolutely!
And may I welcome you back to my blog sometime in the near future? Totally! Just say when!
You can find out more about Cameron, his company and his artists here:
FACEBOOK | TWITTER
Dear readers, as always,
the floor is yours!!
You’ve met the man, you know what kind of fascinating work he does day in and day out…do you have any questions for Cameron? Oh, and could you rise every morning at 5 a.m.?