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Musician paves his own way

by Marc Davies

Described by fans as a “cross between the Dead Kennedys, the Violent Femmes and Weezer,” Canadian singer-songwriter Laurier Tiernan and his backing band will perform April 12 at What The Dickens in Ebisu, Tokyo.

Tiernan has managed to gain considerable radio airplay without the help of a record company. “In February 2008, a radio DJ acquaintance heard and liked my single ‘The End of the World’ so much that he offered to play it once on Inter FM 76.1. The listener and station-staff feedback was so great that it jumped into regular rotation the same day as it debuted.” Positivity snowballed and Tiernan has managed to get his demo on more than 162 radio stations worldwide.

Avoiding the record-label path, according to Tiernan, “gives you complete artistic control, and that is important to myself and many other artists . . . they have insisted from day one that they retain those rights. It’s especially important if you are someone who has a clear vision of what you are doing, and what you are setting out to do.”

Tiernan sees the online music revolution as “making the tools of production and promotion available to anybody and everybody” and having made the industry much more democratic. But he still believes that good music should be worth paying for, adding that, “Consumers have a conscience. If something is good, they feel a need to give something back.”

Optimistic about future business models for the music industry, Tiernan believes that distribution deals like Serj Tankian (from System of a Down) has with Warner will become more and more popular as the major labels realize there is a lot of talent doing it on their own.

“Serj, like many artists, understands that many major labels try and take a lion’s share of the profits from an artist as well as a good deal of creative control. Using the fame he gained from System of a Down as leverage, Serj decided to release his solo album through an indie label he set up called Serjikal Strike, and then negotiated a distribution deal with Warner Bros. This way, he would be free to create the album he wanted to create, and wouldn’t be giving away so much of the profits. But at the same time he could still benefit from having a major label place his record in the chain stores, etc.”

Tiernan is hoping to gain a similar deal for himself in the near future.

Laurier Tiernan performs at What The Dickens, 4th Floor, Roob 6 Bldg., 1-13-3, Ebisu-Nishi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo on April 12. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. Tiernan can also be seen on April 17 at HIGH in Koenji and on April 23 and May 2 at Marz in Shinjuku. www.myspace.com/lauriertiernan