Music Business Management grads strike a chord with new record deal

Breaking into the music industry has always been the dream for Durham College (DC) alumni Dan Hand and Kyle Wilton. Both graduates of DC’s Music Business Management (MBM) program, their paths crossed recently when Dan – an artist manager at Inside Pocket Music – officially signed Kyle’s band, Excuses Excuses and helped secure a deal with Known Accomplice Record Co., a Canadian label with an impressive roster of artists, including The Trews, Headstone and Sam Roberts Band.

“We’re thrilled to have two well-deserving alumni from the college’s Music Business Management program embracing what they’ve learned and seizing new opportunities,” said Greg Murphy, executive dean, School of Media, Art & Design. “We look forward to following along as they make their way in the competitive music industry.”

Hired directly from his third-year internship to an independent record label, Dan held multiple positions at the indie label before accepting a job at Universal Music Canada and opening his first artist management and services business, Cloud Empire Creative, in 2013. In 2016, Dan started his second artist management company while evolving Cloud Empire Creative into a corporate talent buying and booking business, which closed its doors last year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2017, Dan joined the Inside Pocket Music staff bringing his artist management roster with him.

Kyle has been navigating Canada’s grassroots music scene and developing his band since 2016. Following the self-release of three EPs and an extensive tour of Canada’s club circuit, Excuses Excuses was awarded a sound recording grant from The Foundation Assisting Canada Talent on Recordings (FACTOR) in January 2020, which opened many doors, including the opportunity to record their debut album.

For years, Kyle and Dan have been nurturing a successful working relationship, fostered by perseverance, creativity and a shared love for music. Prior to enrolling at DC, Kyle met Dan – who was already an alumnus of the MBM program – at a music showcase and kept in touch, often meeting at local performances and sharing his new music for feedback.

“In late 2019, Kyle approached me with new material, and it all just aligned and made sense,” said Dan. “The talent Kyle and his band had was undeniable, and after seeing how he worked to evolve and improve his craft over the years, I knew we could both bring something to the table.”

When it comes to their time in DC’s MBM program, both Dan and Kyle share an appreciation for the sense of community and support among the students.

“The nature of the MBM program helped immensely to always have the support of our peers and professors at local shows,” explained Kyle. “Completing the MBM program while establishing ourselves as a band helped me understand and navigate my rights as a creator, allowing me to apply the knowledge and ideas I learned in the program to my own reality.”

From an artist management perspective, Dan experienced real-world scenarios in the MBM program, taking full advantage of every opportunity in his third-year placement. From networking with guest speakers, to participating in on- and off-campus events, Dan was eager to dive into as many opportunities as possible, and develop meaningful relationships with his classmates and peers, who he knew would someday be his colleagues.

After overcoming many hurdles, Kyle is excited to see what the future holds for Excuses Excuses, and their new manager, Dan. “I am blown away by what our team has been able to accomplish and I’m looking forward to releasing our new record to the world and getting back on the road, stronger than ever,” said Kyle.