By: Sophie Desrosiers

Students in the music industry arts program were treated to a celebrity guest speaker on Jan. 18 when the lead singer of I Mother Earth visited their class.

Program director Colin Mills brought in Brian Byrne to speak to students hoping to one day have a career in the music industry.

Mills chose Byrne not only for his accessibility, but because of his wide range of experience within the industry. In addition to his role in I Mother Earth, Byrne also has a small-time solo career, and his business venture on the side. OCD Collective is a clothing line featuring pieces designed by prominent Canadians. It raises funds to send autistic children to a surfing camp in California.

Mills felt Byrne would be able to give students perspective from various aspects of the music industry.

“I try to bring real experiences in the course,” said Mills. “We’re going to talk a little bit about being in a big band with a lot of support, having a big record company potentially helping pay for things. And then also, doing his career on his own, where I suspect he’s doing the majority of the management himself.”

Byrne, who looks the part of a rock star with shoulder-length dirty blonde hair and a heavy beard hanging below his chin, explained to students that life in the music industry is not as glamorous as some may think.

“It’s incredibly rewarding and beautiful, and if you’re into just making music and art and that’s who you are, you’ll take those challenges. But certainly it’s not a free ride, by any stretch,” he said. “If that’s the life you’re hoping to get from this I would suggest like, maybe a brain surgeon or something like that,” he added with a smirk.

The students in the group appreciated Byrne’s honesty about the music industry. “I just got more of a realistic view of how the industry works and what it’s like,” said Matt Gordon, a student hoping to get into songwriting.

Byrne’s passion for music is obvious and it’s something that Gordon particularly appreciates. “You can tell how much passion he has.”

Student, Chris Dixon, enjoyed hearing Brian speak about OCD Collective.

“It was really cool because it’s something that really meant something to him, and he went ahead and did it,” said Dixon.

One of Byrne’s biggest concerns for students hoping for a career in music is that they will fall into the wrong hands.

“There are so many people out there who want to make a quick buck and have no real heart, or soul for that matter,” he explained.

One student, Adam Hong, found this advice particularly helpful. “It taught me more to keep a wary eye and to be careful who I deal with.”

Ultimately, the message Byrne hopes students took from his visit is a simple one.

“Work hard and be good to other people, and that’s it. That’s the bottom line.”