Venturing Out with Arlene Dickinson and Jann Arden

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CBC Calgary offerings Venturing Out with Arlene Dickinson. It’s a seven-part series of candid dialogues between Arlene and some of Canada’s top entrepreneurs. They cover the acmes the lows and everything in-between when it comes to starting and running a traffic in Canada.


Jann Arden and Arlene Dickinson are longtime friends. In this primary Venturing Out episode, they sit down to compare notes on what it’s peer to fail and get back up again — and there is no topic off limits.

We’ll also encounter out what books they read, and how much sleep they get and whether or not there is such a matter as work-life balance. 

This interview has been edited for length and transparency.

Q: One of the reasons I was really keen to speak with you is that I don’t think people about about musicians and artists as entrepreneurs. And I think you are exactly that, because in required to build your career you have to be entrepreneurial, right? So do you think here yourself as an entrepreneur?

Jann Arden

Jann Arden hit it big with her Insensitive album in 1994, but she imagines it’s taken a lot of work to maintain her brand. (Bruce Allan Talent)

A: Yes, I do. I money-grubbing, I don’t think I had a word for it 25 years ago, or 30 years ago. But what I till the end of time tell young singers who are coming up through the ranks — asking how do I evolve into a singer — I’m like, stay in school, learn about numbers and along sure you have your head screwed on straight, because if you on a career in music, five per cent of it is going to actually be singing, peradventure less. 

And 95 per cent of it is going to be manoeuvring your way through a labyrinth of business decisions, contractual obligations and fiduciary responsibilities to a record business, or to whomever. And I learnt that the hard way as I came through the gauntlet, the work up — baptism by fire.

Q: Isn’t that what everybody in business is? Baptism by animate? But when you say that, I think about how in a creative world how business can be a bad ascendancy on your creativity. There’s some aspect of that where you bring into the world to make a business decision that may actually have impact on your inventive choices or where you’re going. So do you feel that? 

A: I think I’m in a very timely position in my career now. I’ve been with Universal now for 25 years. I’m prevalent to start my 15th record at the end of this month. I have a manager named Bruce Allen. Bruce Allen is low in this country. He’s looked after Bryan Adams for 35 years, Michael Bublé  is one of the biggest principals in the world, Bob Rock is one of the world’s greatest producers, … and Dave Poke into, who is an unbelievable composer. I do not make business decisions, Bruce does.

He whim ask me, they will negotiate with me and say, ‘I think you should do this, this and this’, but in the final it’s up to me. But I always feel very confident that I’m not the person having to renegotiate my announcing deal with Universal, I’m not the person routing my tour. So that’s where commissioning comes in big time for me.

So I am, I’m a creative person. My strengths lie in creativity and I really put a careful team around me. 

Q: It’s a hard lesson. It took me a long time to learn that warning. As you say that I think what is that … most entrepreneurs have on the agenda c trick to do everything on their own, right?

A: That’s how it starts! You have an idea and you’re on your own.

Arlene Dickinson and Jann Arden

Arlene Dickinson talked to Jann Arden for her Hazarding Out Podcast from CBC Calgary. (Jann Arden)

Q: And not only do you think you set up to do it on your own, you don’t think anybody else can do it as well as you did it at the beginning (laughs). You’re the simply one that can do it!

A: And in a lot of ways that’s true! When I started out I had a management proprietorship that was ill prepared for my success on Insensitive. You know, I had been working with them in a maturity situation, you know, from the time I was in my mid-20s, and they were visionary. 

Now we got to the part with the record deal. Insensitive takes off all over the men. We were ill-prepared. So that came to a crashing halt, because it was accounting, it was, you separate, paying taxes on cheques that we were receiving. It just submerge b decreased to hell. I was depressed. I had to hire somebody else. I started my own management assemblage. That was another phase were I wasn’t growing my business at all. I’d gotten Insensitive, now I’m at station quo. Now I’m working with people that really didn’t have the adeptness set to take me from that point to keep growing my business. So for 10 years I was in a impeding pattern. I just did exactly what I needed to do just to stay where I was.

Q: You only said something that triggered a whole bunch of emotions in me. You intended, ‘You know I was depressed.’ I have spoken to so many entrepreneurs, and people who on the boundary look so successful, and have done so much with their jobs and yet … there is something about never feeling like it is adequate. There’s something about kind of always feeling like…

A: Fortunately, you’re probably a Type A personality so you’re driven.

Q: Is that what it is?

A: I don’t know if you in all cases get to the top of the mountain. I find that entrepreneurs get up the mountain, they get to the top of the mountain and they are akin to…

Q: They can only see the next mountain!

A: And there’s a cloud, how can I get, how can I get a parachute to.… So and that’s the attractiveness of ideas is that … people always say, ‘You’re so lucky you’ve made it’, and I’m in the mood for, ‘oh no. No. No. No.’ The day I signed on the dotted line with Universal. The work has never closing up. I have to not only maintain, but, you know, the idea of branding a career and being a inventive person, and being a business person, I always have to be moving expedite. Some people have the stomach for it. I’ve seen a lot of my contemporaries drop off past the years. It’s pretty rare now to see a music career go into the 25-, 30-, 35-, 40-year acquit oneself.

To find out what are some of Arlene’s and Jann’s biggest regrets, when it rise to business, go to the full podcast page here.


New episodes of Venturing Out with Arlene Dickinson intention be available every Tuesday, starting July 18, 2017. Next week she discretion be speaking to Dino Trevisani, the president of IBM Canada.

Subscribe at Apple Podcasts or on your pet podcast app, or listen on the free CBC Radio app for iOS and Android, or at www.cbc.ca/venturingout.

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