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Cindy Sutch: The person you want on your side when entering Canada to perform

Cindy Sutch is a talent buyer and booking agent at Catherine Faint Entertainment Inc. ("CFE"), and she has implemented the new Artist Management division. With her extensive background in sales and marketing, Cindy’s enthusiastic energy in showcasing and booking artists is a huge asset to not only CFE, but also to the artists who work with her.

Sam Arraj: Tell me about yourself and your involvement in the music industry.

Cindy: I’m a mother to three amazing children and grandchildren who are truly the greatest gifts in my life. In my spare time, I am Chair of Save The Oak Ridges Moraine Coalition and a Director of The Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation.

The Oak Ridges Moraine is a landform unique to southern Ontario. One of Ontario's largest moraines, the Oak Ridges Moraine extends 160 kilometers from the Niagara Escarpment in the west to the Trent River system in the east and is, on average, 13 kilometers wide. One-hundred-and-fifty meters deep, the moraine stands out as a distinct landscape and is the "rain barrel of southern Ontario". Protecting and preserving Ontario’s water and farmland resources are paramount to me, as they are critical for our future generations.

Before joining CFE, I worked in the beauty industry for numerous large cosmetic and professional hair brands. I was involved in all aspects of business, marketing and public relations for over 25 years. This experience certainly provided me with a foundation that was extremely beneficial for me as I branched into the music industry.

I am blessed to book talent at the lounges at Casino Rama, Boots and Bourbon, Big Texas, The Corral, and numerous fairs and festivals across the province.

I started to book the James Barker Band over a year and a half ago. We have seen tremendous growth with James over the past year. I think we have approximately a dozen fairs and festivals lined up this summer. It’s great to work with hard-working guys who are very focused on their career. They just returned from Nashville and recorded their first single "Law Chair Lazy" with Universal Records. It was released in a few weeks ago.

Sam: Could you tell me about the cross-border services you provide for international artists?

Cindy: On a daily basis, I will correspond with tour managers, our client show leads and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). I deal with bands from all over the world that are coming to Canada to perform. Our service helps expedite the bands process when they’re planning to cross our borders. This creates a sense of security for the tour managers and promoters we work with, as our services are available 24/7. It creates peace of mind for those who are responsible for getting their bands and equipment into Canada and to their performance on time.

We know what questions to ask, so we can anticipate any problems that might arise before crossing. We advise and help facilitate necessary permits and visas to expedite the entry and provide the performers with the correct paperwork, accurately and on time. We assist those who have had prior convictions to ensure they complete the appropriate applications before attempting to enter Canada. We keep tour mangers and promoters updated with any new requirements for entering Canada.

Summer is an incredibly busy time with all of the festivals that are happening in Canada. Assisting tour managers and artists enter our country smoothly is a highlight of this job.

Sam: What are some of the common problems artists encounter when coming to Canada?

Cindy: The most common problems are when they attempt to enter Canada with prior convictions they obtained in their country – that, and not obtaining visas and permits ahead of time to ensure they can enter Canada to perform.

Sam: Do you also help artists going into the States?

Cindy: We certainly help artists obtain visas when they plan to go to the US to perform.

Sam: What advice would you give someone coming to Canada to perform?

Cindy: To be completely open and honest with the CBSA officers when attempting to enter Canada. And to call us first, of course!

Sam: Do you deal with the tax withholdings?

Cindy: Only if we book a US artist directly. The buyer would take care of withholding the non-residents’ tax.

Sam: You recently ran the Back Road Country talent search. What did you learn from that experience?

Cindy: Oh my goodness, what a learning experience this talent search was for us! I came into work one day and shared my vision with the CFE team. Naturally, Cathie, who is always so amazing and supportive, said just go ahead and do it. We have a fantastic team at CFE that pulled together to make this talent search a success.

We did some research, came up with a marketing and PR campaign and hit the road running. We learned that so many amazing people in the music industry wanted to be a part of this initiative. Many sponsors offered incredible prizes that ended up totaling over $20,000. As part of the application, we asked artists to share their insight on how communities and nature inspire their musical journey. It was very heartwarming to learn how much nature and serenity inspire so many musicians during their creative writing, especially since this is very important to me on a personal level. I also learned how incredible our talent pool is in Ontario, and how so many artists just need an opportunity to show their talent.

We now have a tremendous amount of management work to do with the winners, Instant Rivalry from Prince Edward County. We’ve already met them and reviewed marketing and business plans, PR and social media campaigns, music videos, single release, showcasing opportunities, bookings, how to get their single to radio, meeting with their radio tracker, and so much more.

Sam: What worked, and what didn't?

Cindy: We received over ¼ of a million votes online, which we were quite surprised by. I believe this search helped raise awareness about the various talented artists we have in the province. The Top 5 event at Hugh’s Room ran quite smoothly. I wish we could have more artists perform live – perhaps by adding a component that would allow some artists to make the top live performance spot based on their talent and not just online votes. Maybe we’ll have to take the Back Roads talent search on the road next year!

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