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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

Aug 22   Mndsgn   Fortune
Aug 30   The Midnight   Commodore
Sep 1   Sleep   Capital
Sep 7   Slowthai   Fortune
Sep 12   Blackalicious   Fortune
Sep 12   COTIS   Capital
Sep 12   No Fun At All   Venue
Sep 13   Oliver Tree   Commodore
Sep 17   Charlie Cunningham   Fox
Sep 21   BJ The Chicago Kid   Fortune
Sep 23   Nitzer Ebb   Venue
Sep 26   Criminal: Podcast   York Theatre
Sep 26   Shura   Venue
Sep 27   Lil Keed (All Ages)   Venue
Sep 27   Nilüfer Yanya   Fortune
Sep 29   Hatchie   Fortune
Sep 30   Band of Skulls   Venue
Oct 1   !!! Chk Chk Chk   Fortune
Oct 1   Kamelot & Sonata Artica   Venue
Oct 2   SG Lewis   Fortune
Oct 2   Marc Rebillet   Venue
Oct 5   Delain, Amorphis & Anneke Van Giersberge   Venue
Oct 7   Ride   Venue
Oct 7   Song Exploder Live - Chuck D   Van Playhouse
Oct 8   Starcrawler   Fortune
Oct 10   Maribou State   Commodore
Oct 11   Injury Reserve   Fortune
Oct 15   Cavetown   Venue
Oct 19   Jakob Ogawa   Venue
Oct 25   Guerilla Toss   Fortune
Oct 26   Hollerado   Commonwealth
Oct 28   Cat Power   Commodore
Oct 30   Madeon (Live)   Commodore
Nov 4   Peter Hook & the Light   Venue
Nov 6   SHAED   Fortune
Nov 9   Maxo Kream (All Ages)   Fortune
Nov 16   Jack Harlow   Fortune
Nov 19   Julia Jacklin   Venue
Nov 23   Dave (All Ages)   Fortune
Dec 6   The Chainsmokers   Rogers Arena