Working in the music industry and making a career as a professional musician is not for the faint of heart. Yet since recording her first demo in 2007, releasing her first full-length record in 2010 and her most recent release, This Great Compromise, in 2013, singer-songwriter Ashley Condon has been making it happen – and doing so on her own terms.
It has always been important to Ashley to be her own boss, and that she does so in a way that is creative and authentic to the person she is. She received so much conflicting advice in the early stages of her career that she found it to be a bit overwhelming. However, the best advice that stuck with her came from Suze Casey, an artistic director in Calgary, who told her, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”
And she was right.
In an industry with no shortage of singer-songwriters, it quickly became obvious for Ashley to find her own voice and be herself. She happily shares this same bit of advice with emerging artists today, telling them: “Find your brand that is YOU and don’t try to be someone else. People are yearning for individuality.”
For Ashley, there is always so much happening on the business end of things with upcoming tours and the creation of a new collaborative project with fellow Island musicians Catherine MacLellan and Meaghan Blanchard called The Eastern Belles, but she will be the first one to tell you that the most important thing for her to focus on is creating good art. Without it, there is no business: “It’s a craft, and you have to work really hard at being good at it.”
For Ashley Condon, support has presented itself in a number of ways over the years. She has surrounded herself with a team of professionals made up of a manager, agent and publisher, all of whom she met through one of Canada’s most revered folk poets and singers, David Francey, at Music PEI week in 2012. From the community of artists she calls her colleagues and friends, to the showcasing and funding opportunities made available via Music PEI, as well showcasing at East Coast Music Week, Folk Music Ontario and Contact East, Ashley is an artist entrepreneur who has learned to tap into the resources available to her while building a successful career based in PEI.
Since returning to the Island in 2010, Ashley says she has felt cradled by the support she has received from her community and her network of fellow musicians. Inspired by other female musicians successfully making a living with their art, in particular Catherine MacLellan, and the fact that she doesn’t compromise her art, she continues to move forward in her career. She has discovered the incredible value in seeing other strong women doing this in their own way and because of their successes she continues to push her art further and conquer new territories.
When new artists ask her for advice she tells them, “it’s going to be challenging. You will be met with adversity, the industry is male-dominated and you have to really, really want it. Being bossy is okay. There are situations when people need someone to take control. We need strong female leaders. It’s OK to be big and be a leader.”
“Be big. Be bold. Don’t be afraid of what other people think. Speak from the heart and everything will work out. Find the support that you need to do it.”