A look at a new record label created for Indigenous musicians

Red Music Rising was created to support an Indigenous arts community on the rise

(Kristen Frier)

Indigenous musicians who may have been struggling to find a record label to help produce their music may finally have somewhere to go.

With the creation of Red Music Rising, a new Indigenous-owned and operated record label based in Toronto, more opportunities are now available for Indigenous musicians to release their work and who want to set foot in the music industry.

RMR launched last September in partnership with The Aboriginal People’s Television Network through Coalition Music, reads a press statement.

RMR is under the oversight of Dadan Sivunivut, an arms-length holding company established by APTN. RMR will assist emerging Indigenous music companies and Indigenous industry professionals, as well as sign, release, and market music from Indigenous musical artists.

The label’s goal is to amplify their artists, expand artistic opportunities for their communities, and “develop robust, sustainable, life-long musical careers for Indigenous artists and industry members alike,” according to their mission statement.

“First and foremost, I think it’s important, to me anyway, for there to be Indigenous representation,” says Matt Maw, the first and current director of Red Music Rising, who is part of the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

He brings over 10 years of experience in the music industry to pass down to Indigenous people aspiring to get into the industry in some form.

“We are still in the process of actively signing new artists. People are coming to us, we are approaching other people to work with and to release music for. We’ve got a full slate of releases to come out in 2021 and into 2022 through Red Music Rising,” Maw says.

To celebrate the first year of Red Music Rising, Maw says he is excited for their summer plans.

“It’s not something I can really actively talk about yet because it hasn’t been announced yet, but we’ve got something really cool cooking and a bunch of really cool releases,” he says.

Before RMR was created, it could be challenging for local Indigenous artists to break into the music industry, Maw says.

“It’s just this idea of knowing that you will have a space as an Indigenous creator, you will have space and resources and a team behind you just to facilitate the creation of your art,” he adds.

The mainstream Canadian music industry has been criticised for failing to feature Indigenous artists as often as it should.

“I mean, there are always going to be the success stories that people look to, that I think compared to the Indigenous arts community is few and far between, and lots of people had to do it independently,” Maw says. “There’s a real gap between those two worlds that I’m aiming to bridge with Red Music Rising, because my experience and career thus far has been in the industry space.”