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An Inside Look Behind BlueprintLIVE’s Music Directors

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

With the new year marks Blueprint LIVE’s second anniversary, curating an eclectic palete of hip hop, indie and rock music by two of Vancouver’s most hard-working talent buyers in the field: Carlo Giusto and Malcolm Croome. Through the last couple of years, they’ve worked hard bringing show after show, starting off with The Pharcyde’s Bizarre Ride Tour in 2012. Bringing live acts both new and old, Carlo and Malcolm have expanded a diverse taste in music towards Vancouver and it’s burgeoning audience. We sat down with both of them to get an insider look at their inspirations and a little bit of history of how Blueprint LIVE began.

To my understanding, you were both independant promoters in the beginning. How did you both decided to consolidate and how did Blueprint first approach you about blueprintLIVE?

C: I started promoting and producing events in 1995 in Vancouver as Tigerstone Entertainment.  Nearly 11 years later, I bought into Shine Nightclub and continued to book concerts in live rooms across the city since Shine wasn’t a fitting live venue.  In the spring of 2012, I approached Blueprint to buy half of Shine from my existing partner and from there we decided that I would start a live division called Blueprint LIVE.  With the addition of Malcolm, formerly Sealed with a Kiss, Blueprint LIVE is now one of the top live concert producers in Vancouver.

M: I pulled the plug on Sealed with a Kiss towards the end of 2013 after 10 years of independant shows in Vancouver. I knew both Alvaro and Carlo from years of us all working as concert producers in the city, so I had a meeting with Alvaro (and Live Nation) to discuss the possibility of  joining forces with Blueprint as a Live Music Director alongside Carlo. Since starting in the spring of 2014, and in less than a year, I have helped build Blueprint Live into its own proper division of Blueprint, booking a wide variety of genres.

What are some of your most memorable shows that you’ve booked?

The Black Eyed Peas for back to back nights at Richards on Richards right before they blew up into a mainstream act and other memorable acts such as Ice T, Sean Paul, the Definitive Jux Tour, Front 242, T Pain, Yelawolf, Pusha T, Action Bronson and Clipse.

M: Arcade Fire (at the Commodore/Mesa Luna and PNE Forum) and pretty much all of the Vancouver concerts from 2003-2013 for The National, TV on the Radio, Wolf Parade, Black Mountain, Death Cab For Cutie, Tame Impala, Broken Social Scene, Caribou, Cut Copy and Chromeo.

What concert was the most inspiring to you?

C: The first concert of my life was the Michael Jackson Victory Tour in 1984 in Toronto.  Even though I was 9 years old, it was a life changing experience for me.  Being in the middle of the crowd in a massive stadium with tens of thousand die hard fans having the time of their lives made me realize that this was something I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my life.

M: I would say my first big show was Lollapalooza ’92 in Vancouver. That had a lasting impression on me as well as other larger shows in the early ’90s that I was lucky enough to attend. As far as concerts I organized, Fugazi in Victoria in 2001 was one of the first bigger events I put together at that point and it had a major affect on me for sure.

What companies back in your youth brought some of the best talents to Vancouver?

C: Unfortunately I didn’t grow up in Vancouver, I moved out here when I was 18.  From that time,  I would have to say that House Of Blues put on most of my favourite shows in Vancouver.

M: Back when I was young I wasn’t really too aware of who was putting on the events I was attending, but I did get to see quite a few shows at the Commodore Ballroom, Starfish Room, and Harpo’s in Victoria in the ’90s that left a lasting impression.

At what moment did you realize that talent buying was where you wanted to go?

Back in 1995, I was soley a street promoter that would promote numerous after parties, raves and club nights around the city.  After a few months of that, I was starting to see the potential of putting on my own shows.  I was lucky enough to be working with a few well-established buyers in the city that allowed me to jump right into talent buying for myself.  After a few years of putting on mainly DJ driven events, I decided I wanted to move into the live music scene and started buying live hip hop acts.  It was then when I realized that I could potentially make a real career out of buying talent.

M: I helped to start a record store in Victoria around 1997 called Ditch Records and we started bringing all sorts of bands to Victoria around that time which we booked through proper agents. I had booked punk shows for years on my own but I certainly never dealt with agents or contracts back then. Around 1998, I realized that I might one day be able to turn booking shows into some sort of proper job.

Vancouver’s music scene has grown exponentially since when you first started in terms of the volume of artists that make their way to our city. How do you think this has changed the industry and how you book shows?

C:  Fans are exposed to a wider range of music now more than ever with the internet and social media.  It definitely makes it easier for artists to reach a larger audience and gain fans much more rapidly. Being able to research statistics online thorough many more avenues has given us the opportunity to actually find out if artists have an established fan base in our city.

M: I would say that dealing with immigration has become far more smooth in the last five years or so. We fought with the border for many years with the help of House of Blues (Live Nation) and the other main companies to try and get bands across the border smoothly and painlessly; we had to pay $450 per band for quite a few years before we were able to get exemption. In some cases, we were paying more to the government in immigration fees than the bands were being paid to perform! I also think the average concert goer is far more clued in now about emerging artists than they were in the ’90s and early 2000’s. People are more likely to buy a ticket to see a brand new band since they are exposed to so much more music on the internet the moment it is released. I’d say bands are developing their fan bases much more quickly than they could back in the day. This allows us to book a wider variety of exciting new artists and pay them enough in order to get them to come to our city.

Join us as we celebrate our anniversary with Kurupt and Roscoe this Wednesday at VENUE! Entry is free with an RSVP ticket available here.

By Vanessa Krystin Wong

events calendar

Nov 14   Petit Biscuit   Commodore
Nov 14   The Lazys & The Standstills   Venue
Nov 16   Masego   Fortune
Nov 17   Young Fathers   Venue
Nov 22   The Flatliners (Calgary)   Commonwealth
Nov 23   Luca Fogale   Fox
Nov 24   The Flatliners   Venue
Nov 28   Pop Evil & Royal Tusk   Venue
Nov 29   Chris Robinson Brotherhood   Venue
Nov 30   So Loki x BBNO$   Fortune
Dec 1   Pale Waves (All Ages)   Venue
Dec 6   Godflesh   Venue
Dec 7   White Panda   Celebrities
Dec 14   Freddie Gibbs   Fortune
Dec 15   Ivy Lab   Celebs Underground
Dec 15   Preoccupations & Protomartyr   Venue
Dec 19   Jazz Cartier   Venue
Dec 20   Jazz Cartier (Calgary)   Commonwealth
Jan 18   Taggart & Torrens   Fortune
Jan 19   Jacob Banks   Venue
Jan 24   MadeinTYO (All Ages)   Venue
Jan 27   Dorothy   Venue
Jan 30   The Lemon Twigs   Venue
Jan 31   Chrome Sparks   Fortune
Jan 31   LP   Orpheum
Feb 3   gnash   Venue
Feb 7   King Tuff   Fortune
Feb 7   Monster Truck   Venue
Feb 9   Monster Truck   Venue
Feb 19   Shad (Calgary)   Commonwealth
Feb 21   David August   Imperial
Feb 21   Shad   Fortune
Feb 22   Joji   Fortune
Feb 23   Maribou State   Fortune
Mar 5   Parcels   Fortune
Mar 8   Mansionair   Imperial
Mar 13   Tiffany Young   Venue
Mar 16   Big Wild   Commodore
Mar 17   Ripe   Fortune
Mar 27   Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers   Venue
Mar 28   Quinn XCII: From Tour With Love   Commodore
Apr 3   Tommy Genesis   Fortune
Nov 4   Peter Hook & the Light   Venue