Striking a balance with new e-book and album

Local entertainment lawyer and executive director of Music B.C. gets back to writing music and dispensing advice

For Bob D’Eith, a frustrating foray into the political arena wasn’t without its rewards.

After failing in his bid to land the NDP nomination for the Maple Ridge-Mission riding, D’Eith found he needed a place to release his energies.

For the past 22 years, he has worked as an entertainment lawyer in Vancouver, helping artists navigate the tricky waters of the music industry. As well, he has spent the past 12 years as executive director of Music B.C., a trade organization aimed at nurturing musicians and the music industry throughout the province.

But before his professional career took shape, he was a musician. A classically trained pianist with a love of jazz, D’Eith’s musical career included seven albums that featured a Juno nomination and a pair of Western Canadian Music Awards.

But his work on the business side of the industry had consumed him. The loss on the political front left D’Eith needing to bring his career back to the middle.

“For me, personally, I was missing that other side of my life,” explains D’Eith, who set to work on his first album in six years with musical partner Paul Schmidt under their band name Mythos. “I just sort of happened organically. I just got into this sort of manic, creative frenzy and just created the album. My balance had been tipped so far to the one side. I originally got in to the industry because I am a musician. But recently it had gotten to the point where all I was doing was the business side of the industry, so it was fantastic to be able to reconnect with that side of my life.”

Journey, also the title track from the album, was the first step in bringing harmony back into his life. But its completion didn’t drain D’Eith’s pent-up frustrations. So along with using his two-hour commute time on the West Coast Express to help write the music for his album, he set down to pen his first e-book, entitled A Career in Music: The Other 12-Step Program.

His decision to publish a book was a way to share his two-plus decades navigating the complicated and ever-changing world of the music industry.

“Because I am a musician, a lawyer, and I’m involved in B.C. Music and its education component, it gave me this more broad view of the industry. So the book is very much an accumulation of knowledge over the last 22 years.” he noted.

In those two-plus decades, D’Eith has seen a number of aspiring artists stumble along the way. Whether it’s through their lack of understanding the business side of the industry or a good singer with bad recording sessions, potential careers can be dashed if an artist can’t put the whole package together.

“Getting into the business side is a huge learning curve, especially for someone who has devoted so much of their energy on the craft of being a musician. Now, all of a sudden, you have to be an entrepreneur. How do you do that?

“It’s hard work. That’s the main thing. It’s treating your music career as a day job. It’s getting up and doing the hard work every day. And that’s a hard thing for artists.”

D’Eith said now more than ever, an artist must be able to use social media to engage their audience.

He said you show him any successful musician and he will show you a successful business person.

“It’s a do-it-yourself world,” he emphasized.

But as important as social media is, D’Eith said live performance is more important than ever. He said it wasn’t that long ago that a strong music video was all that was needed to launch a music career. And while that similar model has shifted to YouTube, if you don’t have the live performance to back it up, you will ultimately fail.

He said you may achieve your 15 minutes of Internet fame, but in order to stay in the public eye, you have to be able to perform. He points to an artist like Mission’s Carly Rae Jepsen, who he said was able to take her “luck” from being discovered on the web and back it up with her talent as a live performer. But he points out that Jepsen is the exception, not the rule.

Whether it’s in the studio or through the written word, D’Eith continues to create with the future in mind, added with a sprinkle of helpful advice.

“It’s fantastic to be able to create again.”