The 3 Wins of Quality Music Entertainment by Sami Ghawi

FUSIONpresents (FP) is a Canadian music company dedicated to the mentorship, development and marketing of musical talent. FP was founded in 2002 and has been providing quality music services to venues, companies, non-profit organizations, families and individuals for over 16 years. We are honoured to partner with the Surrey Board of Trade in leading and managing Surrey Music City Centre,  an initiative to help Surrey develop a bustling and thriving music community.

In June 2017, I was asked by SBOT CEO, Anita Huberman to speak at the 1st Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards, attended by Mayor Linda Hepner, a few Surrey Councillors, and many SBOT board and business members.   In addition to the award presentation, the theme of the event was Surrey Music City, and delegates from Playing for Change and Music Canada were also invited to speak.   This article builds upon my speech that morning. 


A typical music scene has three primary players:
1. VENUES for quality music to be played in
2. ARTISTS who play quality music, and
3. AUDIENCES who will consume and enjoy the quality music. 

In order for Surrey to have a thriving and bustling music scene and ultimately become a Music City, it will need to invest in the development and promotion of these three factors. 

For this to be a successful venture, we believe that there needs to be a WIN-WIN-WIN SITUATION:
2. A WIN for the ARTISTS and 

3. A WIN for the AUDIENCES

Bringing QUALITY LIVE ENTERTAINMENT to Surrey will promote this venture. Let’s examine how. 


The first primary win is for the venue. Venues that host quality entertainment are providing their patrons with an elevated customer experience; customers come in to buy food and beverage and receive the added value of quality music entertainment. This higher consumption value makes them feel as if they are getting more than what they are paying for, and thus they will prolong this experience and stay longer at the venue, probably consuming more

Quality entertainment also encourages patrons to invite their peers, leading to higher sales. Pictures and videos posted to social media as well as positive reviews are free promotion for the venue as an attractive entertainment spot, and of course, when happy patrons leave the venue, their experiences could lead to positive word of mouth promotion to friends, family, and co-workers. 

All this leads to higher venue traffic, which translates into more supplies being purchased, more servers and staff being hired, more utilities consumed, and ultimately more tax revenue for government. Quality live entertainment at a venue also creates a WIN for the local business community. When an audience comes to a live music venue, they are also coming to a local business neighbourhood, increasing parking, public transportation and taxi revenues

Walking around en route to the venue could even translate into sales in other local stores, tourist attractions, museums, parks. A successful venue also increases the popularity of the neighbourhood, elevating the neighbourhood’s reputation, making it an attractive destination spotQuality live music increases total disposable income and revenue in the entire supply chain of the local business environment, and so it is very important for venues, companies and governments to recognize the value of investing in quality live entertainment and its positive ripple effect on the business community. 

Quality Music brings the business, and growing quality music venues all over Surrey will bring business to Surrey. 


The second win that comes from quality live entertainment is for the quality live entertainers

One thing that I tell all of the artists I mentor and develop is “You are not just an artist; you are a business who is providing the service of entertainment and you are fulfilling a need for quality entertainment.” 

Like any other business, the first win for entertainers is monetary compensation for their service. It is imperative that the entertainers and venues have a common ground understanding that they are partnering to grow both their businesses, and as such, as the venue’s business grows from the higher traffic, so should the entertainer’s compensation. 

The second win for the entertainers is the opportunity to grow their fan base and future potential clients. A fan base is probably the most important asset that an artist can have, because your fan base will follow you and will support you, will refer you business, will buy your merchandise and will even come to your shows when it’s raining or snowing in the midst of winter

Another win for entertainers is the opportunity to capture media from live performances, media that will help in the marketing of services to other venues and clients. It’s so much easier to market yourself if you can professionally present what you’ve actually done through pictures, videos and audio. 

Furthermore, an artist with a fan base will solicit other opportunities such as endorsements from musical companies who would provide the artists with their equipment to use in social media and live performances. This is a win for artists because they get to use high quality instruments and gear without the high cash outlay and a win for music companies who get the exposure to promote their products

“The stage is your marketplace. Songs are your products, and the entertainment is your service.”

And to get to a point where someone is willing to pay for your artistic services, you have to be very good. If you want someone to want you back and pay you more, you have to be great. To be great takes a continuous investment into your craft, with the aim that you will receive a future return on this investment. 

Malcolm Gladwell claims in his book Outliers that in order to master something, you need to spend at least 10,000 hours at it and that the Beatles probably passed 10,000 hours in their musical development even before they released their first single in 1962.  But by 1962, they had already become great entertainers and had a massive fan base. 

One quick point that I always tell my artists is “the fisherman always goes to the fish”.   It is vital, as with every business, to define WHO the target market is, more specifically, who will want to consume the entertainment service and product an artist provides (ie. who would be interested in your music?), and thus to develop those products (songs) and services (entertainment) with that target audience in mind.  Paul Simon wrote songs that people “like to sing”.  Paul McCartney and John Lennon crafted songs for their audience in the early years of the Beatles.  David Bowie said that when on stage he was 100% artist, and when off, 100% business.  And as with any business and consumer base, the more developed and targeted the product and service, the more people are willing to pay for it because it is what they need.


What does quality live music do for the community at large? 

Music is known to bring people together. There’s no discrimination on the dance floor: everybody’s dancing together. Music connects them. It is the universal language that everybody can understand. Music is the ultimate unifier and it is our responsibility as entertainers to be aware of the power of music and use it to bring people together. Music is everywhere. It’s on the radio, on TV, in commercials, in stores, in cars. It creates a vibrancy, transcending boundaries and brings cultures, genders, and people of all ages and demographics together. 

Music also creates the soundtrack of our lives. A song can take us back in time. The power of music is evident with Alzheimer patients, opening up memory windows. Music is also used a therapeutic tool with people who have suffered trauma. Music is also an expression and connector of emotion. When you’re feeling down, listening to an artist share a similar story makes you feel like you’re not alone, which is incredibly comforting and empowering. And music has the greatest reach of any communication medium, making musical artists into powerful influencers of our youth. And to that end, the youth of today are the future leaders of tomorrow. And at the forefront of that group are the young artists of today because they can use the power and reach of music to communicate, influence and inspire. 

As such, it is so important to give our youth the ability and resources to learn the language of music through great teachers as well give youth the opportunity to practice and develop their skills live through positive and supportive outlets

At FUSIONpresents, we take every opportunity to bring our young talented artists on stage with our professional musicians. This helps them develop their stage performance and experience first hand the incredible effect music has on the audience. 

Live performance is also an amazing opportunity to break the ice and build confidence in youth. Back in 2011, I invited one of my 9 year old students to join me on stage. She was terrified, but I encouraged her to do it, and she ended up getting a standing ovation, sparking a passionate fire that culminated many years later in a sold out show at the Blue Frog Studio, a cross country tour of jazz festivals and most recently, a tour of Western Canada promoting her debut album.  She’s in studio currently working on her second album.  It all started at an all ages jam.  

Providing our young artists with the opportunity to play live has an invaluable effect on every aspect of their lives and in the communities they will operate in. 

FUSIONpresents has very recently partnered with Long & McQuade Port Coquitlam in the development of an all-ages venue and jam in the Tri-Cities. L&M provided us with a full backline stage, including a PA system, amps, drum kit, microphones, stands and cables, so that all kids need to do is show up and play. This reduced the investment that the venue needed to make to become a quality live-music venue, and reduced the investment for kids and their parents in professional gear.  It’s all at on our stage.   We are working with L&M on bringing this all-ages program to Surrey and the lower mainland. Building quality live music venues in Surrey and developing our young musicians is what will have a long-lasting and positive effect on Surrey’s various communities. Our mantra and mission at FUSIONpresents is to help artists do what they love to do, because when you love what you are doing, you have a sense of self and a sense of purpose. Doing what you love means you are enjoying your life and you are loving that you have the opportunity to do what you love. Doing what you love to do and doing it well is so empowering that when you do what you love, you are powerful and confident and you are emanating positivity. That positivity will inspire others to pay that love forward. “When you smile the whole world smiles with you.” 

We strive to develop artists to the point where they can do what they love, because we believe that when you do what you love, the world will be a better place.  This underlying mission, and the triple wins of quality live entertainment for businesses, artists and our community fuel the Surrey Music City initiative and we are confident in its success.

If you’re interested in participating in our initiative, please contact us at surrey@fusionpresents.com.

Looking forward,

Sami Ghawi

Manager, Surrey Music City Centre