Today’s guest is an award winning musician, community volunteer. And with COVID in our lives right now has overcome some incredible obstacles in his organization. Josh Haugerud is going to talk about the what the Regina Folk Festival is doing to still bring them music to us. We have had this festival in our community for over 50 years. What do we do? What is the future of community events in Saskatchewan? Well, let’s talk to Josh and let’s find out. Welcome Josh.
Josh Haugerud 0:34
Hey, thank you so much for having me. It’s nice to be here.
Tell us a little bit about the Regina Folk Festival. Give us a quick history on you know where you’ve come from and where you’re going.
Josh Haugerud 0:44
Sure. So the Regina Folk Festival is one of the longest running festivals in Western Canada happens in Victoria Park, the second weekend of August every year. And yeah, where we’ve come from. I mean, it’s been over 50 years and 2019 we celebrated the 50 year anniversary, where we’re going nobody knows with the way that things are happening right now.
Josh Haugerud 1:10
Everything’s a question. And every day is an adventure. That’s for sure. Yeah, no kidding. Just before we got started today, you talked a little bit about the organization and the number of volunteers that it takes to actually make the festival happen.
So was the last festival in 2020? Or was it 2019? Before COVID ever started 2019.
Josh Haugerud 1:30
Before COVID hit when I started this role as executive director at the Folk Festival. I started about a month early so that I could be the person who canceled the festival due to COVID. And then yeah, work towards my actual start date afterwards.
So that’s kind of a not fun. First thing to do in a new job is hey, guess what, after 50 years, we’re gonna put this on pause.
Josh Haugerud 1:59
Yeah, yeah, it was, it was an interesting way to start the job. But I mean, it was it was the right choice. So it wasn’t actually a difficult choice. And I mean, we’re a very inclusive, thoughtful festival. And so the protection of the people who come to our festival in terms of their safety and, and whatnot is, is our top concern. So there’s just no way we could have moved forward with the way everything was going.
Absolutely. So from a festival standpoint, could you stream the festival? Like, are there still options for you? Or is Regina Folk Festival really on hold until COVID is Gone?
Josh Haugerud 2:42
I mean, that’s a good question. I think we’re playing everything day by day. So really, it’s just figuring out where we’re at, at the point where we have a drop dead date. And so we’re looking a few months ahead, always planning ahead, but we kind of knew coming into this year that that things weren’t going to be solved by by the summertime, in order for us to come back with a normal festival, or as normal as it could be.
Josh Haugerud 3:10
So yeah, while we’re still figuring things out. Every day, we’re, we’ve got a pretty good idea of of what we can and can’t do.
Yeah. And so knowing that that continues to change, like, how are you preparing for that? When you go into work on any given day, and you share that, you know, there’s only a couple of people or yourself that can be in the office because you only have one person there. So like, how do you prepare for the unknown?
Josh Haugerud 3:39
You know, it’s it’s a lot of just good communication with our staff. We’ve started using tools like slack to communicate while we’re all working from home, lots of zoom meetings, too many zoom meetings. But one of the things that we’ve done is, before I actually started working here was the they had set up meetings every month with all the leaders from festivals from across the sketch one to discuss the issues that we have, and plan towards the summer and work together on getting funding and those types of things. And that, I think has been one of the most beneficial things that has come out of this is that we’ve come together as an industry to to advocate for ourselves.
Yeah, absolutely. building that strong network of colleagues, whether it’s across western Canada, or just the province, if that’s absolutely huge, right, talking to everybody. And yeah, now we’ve heard that a number of events have started to stream. Have you looked at some of those streaming options?
Josh Haugerud 4:44
Mm hmm. Absolutely. So last year, instead of doing a festival, we did a drive in concert series with local musicians and we actually did stream two of those concerts for free. Yeah, so and we have winter option coming up.
Josh Haugerud 5:00
Pretty soon here as well. And those are all going to be while they’re pre recorded concerts done so safely within COVID regulations, and we worked with the business response team on those to get those done safely. So yeah, we absolutely have looked at at streaming. We’ve streamed a handful of concerts over the last year, with partnerships with different organizations. But I mean, it’s it’s one of those things where it’s about the demand, right, and everybody’s doing it.
Josh Haugerud 5:34
When you’re sitting in zoom meetings all day, the last thing you want to do is hop onto your computer one more time to watch a concert. And, and as lovely as they are, they aren’t the same. They just don’t and there’s nothing you can do to make them the same.
No, the it’s the experience, right sitting in Victoria Park, pulling out your lawn chair laying on a blanket for a couple of concerts. It’s an entirely different experience than Okay, I’m on my couch with the remote control or my laptops on my lap. Right that that experiential factor is absolutely huge. But you just I like led me to something. How many different events concerts, performances, do you guys help promote? Like, I’m trying to look for the right word, but like, how many different events are there?
Josh Haugerud 6:21
Yeah, so in a typical year, we’re doing events all year. So basically, we started off the year in January with winter option, K, we have a concert series that runs throughout the year to bring touring artists to Regina that normally wouldn’t come to Regina. Because we’re able to partner with other organizations in other cities to bring them on a, you know, cross Saskatchewan for tour or something like that. When we do that, and winter option, we also have an outreach program into the schools where we bring those musicians to the schools and teach kids about, you know, careers and music and important issues as they come.
Josh Haugerud 7:04
And then there’s the festival itself in August. And so between all of those things, it’s Yeah, it makes the year quite busy.
Yeah, no kidding. And I have to think that the August festival is typically the biggest revenue driver for you. And so without that festival in place, that starts to impact everything from what you can do to staffing levels, etc. So one of the things that I see lots of people talking about whether it’s, you know, on social media, or even in the news, a big part of our human need to endure times like these is the art, arts culture music performances, and that’s been much more restricted for us. Are you hearing that from your volunteers from your attendees? You know, what kind of feedback do you get?
Josh Haugerud 7:57
You know, it absolutely is something that we need as a society. And, and we needed in the form of gatherings. I mean, I know, you know, it’s, it’s an experience that, that you just can’t replace with anything else. And, I mean, while we’ve worked really hard to bring music to the community, throughout all of this, nothing’s going to compare to the first live show where we’re all feeling completely safe and can gather and be close to each other and enjoy something together.
A friend of mine actually, who used to work in radio, she is a non hugger, she does not like to hug anyone, and she posted on Twitter not too long ago. She’s like, I just want to warn you now when this is over, I’m hugging like I’m hugging everyone right? Yeah.
And there’s something to be said for that human connection, which, you know, I’m fortunate I live with, you know, my spouse and my two kids. So I have people around me all the time. There’s a blessing and a curse there. Right. But you know, I think about folks who, you know, maybe they have one or two people in a household, like that is so much more challenging.
I always like to I don’t even know how I explained this, but you know, when you get stressed, and like, you need to blow off steam, blow off steam for me has always meant go out. Listen to really loud music, and have fun, right? Go with friends. That was blow off steam. And I think there’s gonna be so many people with so much and up like, Oh my god, get me out. Yeah, this is done. So I mean, if nothing else, hopefully the silver lining is that at the opposite end of this, we come to appreciate, like how much we get from these live events and live festivals. Now, do you guys have a limit like would there actually be a limit if you were able to do a live festival in 2022 section two, f like you haven’t helped us if we still count?
Josh Haugerud 10:01
Yeah, yeah. I mean, those are those are questions we’re asking, too. I mean,
Josh Haugerud 10:07
Really, what we’ve put forward to the government is the scattering was to give us an idea of what the vaccine threshold is, how many people actually need to be vaccinated before we can start having large gatherings again? And at what point are we going to get to that threshold? Those those would be questions that we need to answers to before we can determine, you know, crowd sizes, all that kind of thing. I can’t see anything getting bigger than 500 people for a while, just, you know, for overall safety.
Josh Haugerud 10:41
In the days where we’re, you know, 30,000 plus and mosaic Stadium, maybe a little further away than that, but the fact that we’re looking at, you know, potentially, some in person events this summer, is a positive step. So, yeah, we’re just trying to stay as optimistic as possible here. And absolutely, hopefully the best.
How many people usually attend the full festival?
Josh Haugerud 11:11
Yeah. So I mean, throughout the year, we get about 35,000 people that come out to events that we put on.
And what about the big festival in August?
Josh Haugerud 11:21
Yeah. So I think that’s a good question. Since I’ve never run one. Specific numbers for that. I don’t have off the top of my head just just because I haven’t had to deal with that yet. But in terms of the, you know, over those four days, and the all the free events that we put on and everything like that, the numbers are quite, quite large.
Yeah, that’s the size of a community, Moose Jaw is 36,000 people. So that’s the entire community of Lucia, showing up at the event somewhere throughout the year. Right. So yeah, absolutely. That’s huge. Yeah. So when you So you mentioned the 650 volunteers, is that also throughout the year? Or is that just for that Aug weekend?
Josh Haugerud 12:07
You know, most of them are for just that August weekend, but they are for throughout the years, we need volunteers for concerts and different things that we’re putting on.
So do the volunteers get to attend the events for free, then?
Josh Haugerud 12:22
Absolutely. Volunteer appreciation is, is a hallmark of what we do. I mean, we, we couldn’t do anything we do with our volunteers. So yeah, I would encourage anybody who’s interested in volunteering to visit our websites and and send us a note through the website, if you’re interested.
Yep. So community is something that’s absolutely at the core of what’s important to you. You’re a paragon award winner from the Regina Chamber of Commerce. You also have an award from sask music. So tell me a little bit about where does that come from? Why is community important to you? And you know, in a time like this, is there anything you can do to continue to support community?
Josh Haugerud 13:08
Oh, big time, communities always been important to me, I grew up in a small town. So I grew up in Craik, everything that you did was for the community. When I was about 16, I had my parents sign on a waiver. So I could join the volunteer fire department, you know, it’s just, it’s all things that that you just do when you when you live in a small town because there’s no one else to do them.
Josh Haugerud 13:33
And so I’ve kind of carried that with my with, with everything that I’ve done throughout my career. When I was in university, I was a board member for the heritage Community Association. And I feel like volunteering is where I got the majority of my experience to do what I do now. So it’s, it’s been, you know, very, very important to me. That being said, Now, community involvement is more important than ever. There’s so much you can do even without gathering.
Josh Haugerud 14:08
So yeah, I if if you’re looking for a way to be involved in the community, go find it right now because people need the help. All over.
Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly right now, small business, local business, nonprofit. I mean, they are starving. We’re trying to figure out you know, how to maintain something. And with a variance kind of taking off as much as they are right now. Nobody knows what tomorrow looks like anymore, right? We’re starting to get some what I would define as scary or concerning messages. And up until this point in COVID. I mean, we’ve followed the protocol and I’m speaking as a family now and as a business, but we’ve followed the protocols to a tee. And like I’ve never felt nervous, you know, it was one of those things that we took the precautions. If one of us got sick, then you know, we would get sick, we would recover. But the stuff that we’re hearing now with a new variant, it’s like, oh, like, No, we can’t get sick, right? Like now it feels a little bit more, more nerve racking.
Your little guy, if I remember correctly is about grade one or grade two. Right? Yeah. How did that How did that go for him in school? Because he had to start wearing masks partway through the fall that right?
Josh Haugerud 15:33
Yeah, so I mean, he was in kindergarten last year when this all hit and shut down schools for the rest of the year. So I mean, he only really got half a year kindergarten, and then he was into grade one. Yeah, wearing masks. But now they’re back home again.
Josh Haugerud 15:51
And I mean, it did does say that will go back April 23. But it’s hard to be optimistic about that when case loads are getting higher and higher each day. Exactly. So I mean, the teachers are working so hard, trying to trying to navigate this and the parents as well. I’m very fortunate, very privileged to be able to work from home and be able to do his schooling and have, you know, a flexible workplace. But not everybody has that option.
Absolutely. And, you know, that’s actually something that I’ve talked about a couple of times, I think, for those students who could do school from home, because parents can provide the support, let them nevermind when the deadlines passed for, you know, registering for online school, if you if if you can support your student at home, then do it. And if you can’t, and we need to go back to the classroom, then check that box and let them go back. If I was a, if I was somebody to gamble, I would say we’re not going back. But I also recognize why the provincial government is trying to keep schools open, because parents need to be able to go to work.
My business has been online for years now. And my kids are also at an age where they’re pretty independent, when it comes to their schoolwork, because they’re in grade seven and grade eight. Now, having said that, school is like harder in grade seven and eight when you have to help them. versus when when it’s like, oh, yeah, I can help you with your first time staples, no problem.
Oh, my goodness. So yeah, like I empathize for the parents who have to keep going to work. We actually had a case where a parent sent their COVID positive child to school, because that parent had to work. I presume for fear of losing their job. The child wasn’t that sick, but unfortunately went out onto the playground and was like, Oh, I’m going to give you COVID. And I’m going to give you COVID so the teachers caught on pretty quick that Okay, wait a second. Yeah. So you hear stories like that? And you just think, oh, like for some parents? It’s It’s so hard. What do you do? Yeah, right. You gotta buy food, you got to pay the rent. Right? And so yeah, what do you do?
Anyway, we’re totally digressing. We’re getting into a COVID conversation instead of you in the Folk Festival. So, like, what does the future of community folk festivals look like? And let’s pretend that we get back to a normal world here at some point. If the Folk Festival is one of our longest running festivals, you know, what’s happening in the industry? Like, where do you think this goes?
Josh Haugerud 18:35
You know, the music industry is one of the hardest hit industries we were one of the first to close will be one of the last to open. Techs have not worked at all musicians are barely getting by. I mean, they made the majority of their money before COVID from touring.
Josh Haugerud 18:58
And now that’s gone. So I mean, the way the music industry has changed so much in the last 10 years, just to that move, just streaming alone has changed the the way that musicians make money.
Josh Haugerud 19:14
And to make it as a musician is so much more difficult today, is you have to set yourself apart because anybody who has a laptop at home can just record an album, which is a blessing and a curse at the same time.
Josh Haugerud 19:32
Yeah, absolutely. But yeah. I mean, where do we go from here? I think we’ve taken a lot of time to take a good hard look at the industry itself. Finding ways that we can do things better. I know that us as a festival, we’ve spent the last year doing a lot of work on reconciliation. We’ve paid a lot of attention to the social justice issues that have been occurring in the music industry. And those, those are important things for us to work on. And just in general, but to have the time to do that is kind of a blessing. But
Josh Haugerud 20:18
But yeah, it’s, it’s been nice to kind of look at overall, like, I mean, I’m starting this job in COVID. So looking at efficiencies and revenue streams and everything like that, when we’re talking about the music industry in Canada, I mean, 98% of the revenue that was made by the music industry has been lost because of COVID. It’s, it’s, it’s a, it’s a huge amount of money that goes towards the overall GDP of the country. That is just gone. Exactly. Our exports, I mean, everything that we’re doing outside of Canada, with our music, musicians, and whatnot, is all gone, as well as border closings.
Josh Haugerud 21:02
And so there’s going to be a lot of challenges when we do come back, I mean, vaccine passports being a new thing that people are talking about, how does that play into what musicians you bring in? What countries you bring musicians in from based on, you know, their vaccination programs and what stage they’re at?
Josh Haugerud 21:22
You know, like, where do you find the money to bring in the the larger named audience or band to headline without, you know, increasing dollars from grant programs and things like that sponsorship? You know, when businesses are struggling, sponsorship, and marketing are the first things to go.
First things exactly, yeah, the budget dwindles really fast. So keep it You made me think of something. There’s all these free streaming services, Spotify, and some of those types of services? Do they tend to pick up a lot of the local music? And I know, as a subscriber, I subscribe in the summer only so that I can get the, like offline access, right? Yeah. And so how are musicians compensated then?
Josh Haugerud 22:08
Poorly, very poorly! Here, we’re gonna say, yeah, the model for streaming is one that a lot of people in the industry are trying to work to change. Because, you know, you’ve got CEOs like Spotify as an example, making billions of dollars where musicians are making pennies per Listen, or less less than pennies per listen. Yeah, the band that that I played in I mean, we put all of our stuff up on all the streaming services. And over three years, we made about $10 on streaming from, you know, 1000s upon 1000s of listens to our, to our songs.
Josh Haugerud 22:49
I mean, that’s there’s no way to make a living off of that unless you’re like a Taylor Swift or you know, something at that size where exactly, you’re getting billions of listens.
So, okay, let’s put that in perspective. So if you made $10 from all of your lessons, and let’s just assume that she’s got a billion listens. How much would she be making? So is it like is can we round it off to like half a penny per Listen?
Josh Haugerud 23:20
It’s I think even less than that. I think it works out Spotify as was like point nine cents for for a listen. Yeah. Wow. I don’t know if that’s considered to be an entire, like front to back, listen to the song or to, like a percentage of the song is listened to. Because if you skip through songs, and you listen to half of it, you may not get paid for that. I don’t know. Spotify is like, the the back end of that very well. Yeah.
You know, and, like, I know nothing, but I would be willing to bet that the rate that Taylor Swift is compensated is different than the local musician, because Spotify looks at it and says, Well, people come to our platform to hear Taylor Swift, but then they end up you know, hearing the local performer so you can be guaranteed she gets compensated fairly, fairly well for bringing people. Okay, so that’s very interesting. I didn’t realize any oh my goodness, I just looked at the clock.
I do this every time I like talking away. We have about a minute left. Josh, give us your elevator speech. How would people find out about the Folk Festival up to date I know you have a spiffy new website either launched or coming so give us the the goods.
Josh Haugerud 24:43
Yeah, we launched our website in December of last year so you can go to Regina Folk Festival comm check that out all the information you’re going to need about winter option which is coming up in a couple of days here. You can find there you can follow us on social media as well.
Josh Haugerud 25:00
You can find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, I think we’re even thrown together at Tick Tock. So yeah, check that out, wait for that. The one thing that I would encourage people to do right now, if you’re really passionate about the music industry go support the musicians directly. When Bandcamp does things like 100% of their proceeds, going to musicians on Fridays during the month go by, you know, the music, the merge, make donations to the local venues that you want to see, stay open, you know, find ways to support those musicians. You know, it’s it’s local music, it’s community. We’re all a part of this, and we’re all gonna get through this together.
Josh Haugerud 25:45
But both everybody needs your support right now. Yeah, and, yeah, it’s Sask musics done some great things with the their t shirt program. I just so happen to be wearing one right now where you buy those t shirts, and they go and support those venues that they made t shirts for. But yeah, again, if you’re looking for musicians to support, go to Sask music’s website, check out their directory, because if you’re a member of SASKmusic, you know, you’re going to find a Saskatchewan musician to support.
Exactly, no, that’s awesome. Thank you so much. Yeah. All right. Um, that wraps us up for today. So if you’d like to be a guest on the show, you can email me at Barb at Googlegirl.ca or reach out on our Facebook and Instagram page at abovethefold. ca. Just a reminder, you can even submit questions in advance of our live show on our Facebook page. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, local business owner and Google girl. Remember, you worked hard for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.
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Imagine starting a new job just in time to cancel a 50 year tradition?
That’s what Josh Haugerud needed to do in 2020 when COVID hit. The Regina Folk Festival expected to celebrate their 50th year with a line-up of exciting & talented performers. Instead, they, like so many community events, were put on pause.
Tune in to learn more about the 35,000 event attendees, 650 volunteers and countless musicians who are being impacted by covid. If you ever needed a reason to mask-up, stay home and achieve covid zero, this episode brings it home.
Connect with Josh @ Regina Folk Festival
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