Breakout West with Taron Cochrane

The Gang is jazzed to welcome musicians from across Western Canada to our Queen City for Breakout West October 13 to 16.  The annual music festival, awards and conference represents the best in Western Canadian Music, and brings together the music industry . We recently had a chance to speak with our good friend—and 2016 nominee for Impact in Music Marketing—Taron Cochrane to get his perspective on what Breakout West means to our city. Here is what he had to say.

BG: What is Breakout West?

TC: Hosted by the Western Canadian Music Alliance, BreakOut West is a four-day event featuring a music conference, multi-genre Western Canadian Music Festival (taking place at 11 venues around the Regina with over 60 performers), plus the Western Canadian Music Industry Awards Brunch and Western Canadian Music Awards Show.  Essentially it is the largest event to celebrate and acknowledge all of the amazing music being created right here in our neck of the woods.  For this brief moment in time, the nation focuses it’s eyes (and ears) on our half of the country, and what better place to serve as the backdrop for this event than the city of Regina and the province of Saskatchewan—the home of some of the best music, musicians and industry professionals in Canada!

BG: Congrats on the nomination for Impact in Music Marketing. For us regular folks, what does music marketing entail?

TC: Thanks so much, it’s such an unbelievable honour to be nominated.  Not only is my company, Taron Cochrane Entertainment less than a year old, but I am in some incredible company in this category.  When they made the announcement on May 3rd at Casino Regina I was busy on my phone sending congratulations to my fellow Saskatchewan nominees—it certainly caught me off guard.

Essentially,”Music Marketing” is the term used for promoting and publicizing music and the musicians who make it.  Although there are many industry professionals who have a targeted approach to music marketing (such as publicists), mine has been rather scattered over the years.  Prior to starting my company I spent many, many years volunteering my time to promoting Saskatchewan music. From serving on the SaskMusic Board of Directors, to being a jury member on several panels for various music events, to helping book local talent for Global Regina, the possibilities have been endless and ongoing really.  As a weekly guest music commentator on CTV Morning Live in Regina (2012-2013) I took the time to discuss local music releases alongside national and international releases.  When approached to co-host the CBC Saskatchewan Afternoon Edition two-hour New Year’s Eve specials the last two years, I used the opportunity to dedicate the first hour to the best Saskatchewan music made that year and showcased upcoming talent in the second hour.  As a freelance writer for the Regina Leader-Post, I focused my yearly TOP 10 Album lists on Saskatchewan music exclusively.  In 2015-2016, I co-created and promoted two weekly Saskatchewan music themed radio shows on Weyburn rock station K106.7FM called “Saskatchewan Side A”.  Not only did we feature a new Saskatchewan rock band each week on the radio (with over 40 bands/artists getting mentions/airplay), but we also added an online-only show so we could focus on other genres such as Country, Polka and Hip Hop.  The shows did exceptionally and were so prairie focused that we even had Saskatchewan music as our theme songs. Unfortunately, my co-host Dylan ‘Boz’ Bossenberry ended up moving away so we had to call it a day, but every single episode still lives online at

Social media has also been a huge catalyst for music marketing, and from the general consensus I’ve seen and heard from many local artists, having someone such as myself spreading the word about the local music I love carries more weight than the artists attempting to sell the music themselves to their potential audiences.  I’ve also used a few national media appearances to mention local talent because I truly and firmly do believe that our music scene is world class and the world needs to know this.

That’s music marketing in an unnecessarily long nutshell!

BG: The other nominees in your category represent a strong SK contingent, why do you feel this is?

TC: While we’re pretty humble in nature, behind the scenes these fellow Saskatchewan nominees are helping make a huge difference in the careers of our artists.  For example when you look at some of our province’s biggest acts such as Rosie and The Riveters and Andino Suns, it’s no surprise that their publicist, Susan Busse, is a fellow nominee.  She is absolutely amazing at what she does.  Why? She epitomizes the Saskatchewan values of a strong work ethic powered by kindness and great communication.  Although we don’t have the geographical advantage at times to make our work easier, it’s Saskatchewan citizens like Susan who have proven that location is irrelevant when you’re passionate and love what you do!

BG: Who are you most excited to see at  Breakout West…and it can be anyone.

TC: Although you could fill me up with coffee and I could go on for hours about all of the amazing Saskatchewan talent that you can’t miss, I do have a personal agenda to not miss any of the performances by Winnipeg folk singer-songwriter Don Amero when he returns to Regina. When he was here in 2012 (the last time BreakOut West came to town) he blew me away with his music AND marketing.  Before his set at the Artful Dodger, Don personally went to every single person in attendance, introduced himself and then gave everyone a digital download card for his music.  I’ll never forget the thoughtful and heartfelt approach he took to personally thanking everyone for their interest in his music.  He deserves all of the success he has and will continue to receive in the future!

BG: Why is it important for Regina to host this event?

TC: It’s obviously a biased opinion since I call Regina home but this city is bursting at the seams with musical talent.  Our industry has been doing so well these days with our artists succeeding overseas, gaining much needed knowledge and skills from organizations such as SaskMusic, and collaborating with each other whenever possible on projects.  There’s such an unbelievable sense of unity here but it’s something we’ve held close to our chests.  Now is the perfect time for the rest of the country to see what we’ve been up to and having them join us in the welcoming city of Regina is the ideal place to do it.

BG: Give us your Breakout West Mix Tape

TC: I’ll actually do you one better by sharing this link to the BreakOut West Spotify playlists. You can stream music from upcoming festival performers plus award nominees and more. The creative geniuses in the Break Out West camp have even broken the music down into different moods for your listening pleasure. Listen here.

BG: If there is one thing we should take in during the weekend, what should it be?

TC: Absolutely positively don’t miss the Western Canadian Music Awards show (kicking off the entire event at the Casino Regina on Thursday, October 13th).  Whether you’re there in person or decide to stream it live online at it’s going to be one for the ages! Where else could you see the current ‘King of Canadian Country’ Brett Kissel co-host (and perform) alongside Regina’s own Colin James (who will also be getting inducted into WCMA Hall of Fame).

You can connect with Taron on his website and grab tickets for Breakout West on their site here.

Photo: Julian Sanders

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