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Alex Wyder began as a music fan and now is an artist manager

From music blogger to music manager, Alex Wyder has realized a dream of being an industry player.

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Unlike many teens, Alex Wyder wasn’t the kid in his bedroom shredding on air guitar dreaming of stardom. He wasn’t scratching on air decks either.

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His goal was to meet, greet and report on his heroes.

Along with two colleagues, Wyder launched the Vancouver Music Review in 2011 and, within a year, was partnered with The Province contributing to the newspaper’s nascent online entertainment blogs. The dream had come true for the local lad whose musical connection — up to that point — had been that he was second cousin, once removed, to singer/songwriter Barney Bentall.

“I remember very vividly not believing that I was actually writing about music and going to big festivals like Sasquatch and reviewing them for free,” he said. “It was a dream from my teens come true, and I actually used to joke that I had peaked too soon when that was over. But I was wrong about that, as it turns out.”

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In 2013, friends started a band called the Tourist Company and approached him about being their manager. It was a case of neither party having any clear idea of what they needed to be doing, but the decision was made to see what would happen.

“In 2014 they got into the PEAK Performance Project and came in third place, and I was kind of pulled along from that experience into the whole world of artist management,” he said. “At that point, I decided that I was going to go for it and really grasp the ropes of the job. I was 21 and there was a lot to learn.”

Over the next few years there were tours, there were successes and failures, and there was Wyder gaining greater inroads into the local and Canadian music industry.

In 2018, he established his own company, High Tide Artists. Offering services ranging from artist management to other music biz essentials such as grant writing, and tour and administrative support, the company even delves into creative consulting to build brand identity and recognition.

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The eight-act roster ranges from co-managing Juno-award-winning hitmakers Dear Rouge to managing singer/songwriter Jordan Klassen to Gold & Youth, a quartet featuring musical wünderkind Louise Burns. The Tourist Company is still on the bill as well, although the duo’s Brenon Perry and Taylor Swindells are more active as solo artists these days. Swindells’ well-received Neighborhood Libraries Project is also managed by High Tides. The playlist on the company website showcases all of the acts under its umbrella.

It’s pretty clear from listening to it that Wyder has good ears for indie pop.

Alex Wyder with Lindsey Blane of the band Dear Rouge.
Alex Wyder with Lindsey Blane of the band Dear Rouge. Alex Wyder

“I learned everything on the job and, like everything, have had to develop the skills to grow and develop with these artists in the same way I’ve had to do for myself,” he said. “When the pandemic hit, the Tourist Company weren’t going to be going out on the road to support 2020’s St. Helens, but Taylor’s neo-ambient garage albums started to take off. Lo and behold, I’m on the phone with Mark Jowett of Nettwerk, who had been looking at signing the band at one point, brought Neighborhood Libraries to his attention and now the project is getting signed to Nettwerk.”

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Perry is presently on the road playing drums with Dear Rouge.

“So while that one original band is still beloved to us all, it has evolved to this point where I’m expanding as an artist manager, Taylor has a solo career and Brenon is establishing himself as a professional musician,” said Wyder. “It’s a big change from the Vancouver Music Review days.”

In fact, it was through interviewing PEAK Performance Project winners Dear Rouge that Wyder connected with the band’s Danielle and Drew McTaggart. The three became fast friends and a working relationship developed as well.

“At first, Drew had kind of taken me under his wing coaching me in management, but they were also starting out at the time,” said Wyder. “Then he sent me a mix of their first hit I Heard, I Had and our business connection began, because I was blown away. They took me on as an asset and, I can safely say, we disprove that old adage that you shouldn’t mix business and friendships.”

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Wyder says that his approach to talent is to be able to meet-up with artists on both a personal and a business level. Echoing the advice of some of the great talent agents in music, he says you have to strike a balance that lets creatives create while still making the gig on time and paying the bills. It’s a balance that he had to make in his own life too.

“I realized that I couldn’t make this happen without having a more flexible work schedule as well, so I left the full-time job I had and went back to train as a paramedic,” he said. “I had been working at Grouse Mountain full-time and it was pretty crazy being on the phone on my breaks on top of the mountain trying to iron out things for bands on the road somewhere else. Being a paramedic allows the kind of flexibility to choose work hours, as you only need to work a minimum number of shifts to keep your job, which is perfect for my management work.”

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Along with finding his footing with realizing his music dreams, Wyder was also able to find the confidence to come out as gay. In a field that still has a long way to go in its diversity and representation, he sees this as one more development in honest career building. The straight white boys club isn’t shifting nearly as fast in music as, say, film and TV.

“I think that the fact I started my business at the same time I came out was all tied together,” he said. “Often, I didn’t see how I could be all the things I wanted to be and also be gay, which is a lie. Anyone can be a powerful figure in the music industry and still be gay, bi, trans, what have you. A big part of what I’m doing is to bring different voices to the table and not have to explain myself.”

He’s still encountering bias about being the assistant, or the wardrobe person, but a whole lot less than before. The whole point behind calling the company High Tides was to reflect that a rising tide raises everyone up together. The shift is happening.

This month, Wyder launches his label, High Tide Music. The debut release is from singer/songwriter Kevin Hackett.

[email protected]

twitter.com/stuartderdeyn

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