Music company leaves big city for new life in Grey County

·3 min read

When Sean Russell founded his now multi-faceted music, management and marketing company in Toronto, he called it baselineMUSIC.

Now it turns out to be prophetic, as not only he and his family but many of his employees are re-locating to places within easy reach of Sean and his wife’s Dornoch-area farm on Baseline Road.

The couple has owned the property near Dornoch for a few years, but last year sold their house in Toronto and moved.

First, Sean and their children left last March, while his wife, Claire, who was working as an emergency nurse continued a while longer. She is now working at Markdale hospital in the emergency department.

Sean grew up on a farm outside of Dundalk, with his parents Bruce and Karen and brothers, Brent and Jeff – all still living in the area.

His wife was raised in London but spent summers in Grey County which is where the couple met, before they moved to Toronto for school.

At 19, Sean was managing the band the Trews. He founded baselineMUSIC in 2008 and has since built his business, including artist management, marketing and events.

His experience over the time covers a revolution in the music world with the move away from selling CDs to streaming. He believes there is plenty of opportunity.

“Now you can find your niche really easily,” he said. There are so many technical trends that allow you to monetize anything, he said. He’s optimistic about the resilience of music artists and their future, and wants to inspire people to work in the field which he says has meaning on its own terms.

“It holds value outside the idea of selling and business,” he said.

Sean said he’s really looking forward to opening up the path to a career in music to people in the area. He would love to hire locally, and also to fund a scholarship for GHSS students to study at the schools in London and Victoria for which he has written curriculum.

“The music business is a career path that can be taken,” he said. He has done keynote speeches on that subject at places including Singapore and Estonia to address that theme.

Among artists the company promotes is rapper Connor Price, whose track and video for the Toronto Raptors commissioned by Sportsnet debuted this month. He’s also done work, handled by baselineMUSIC, with Idris Elba and Courteney Cox.

The firm has worked with artists including Alex Cuba, Hermitage Green, Noah Reid (from Schitt’s Creek), The Northern Pikes, Sarah MacDougall and others.

Sean is looking forward to people who have been on his team having the chance to find a place to live that’s much more affordable than in Toronto.

Cortney Harkin, who is the head of the marketing and PR division with Baseline since 2016, said she and her husband had already been thinking of moving out of Toronto eventually.

“When Sean and I began discussing the idea of transplanting baselineMUSIC north of the city it was an easy YES from me,” she said in an e-mail reply to the paper.

“We’re looking forward to raising our children in a smaller town where there is more space for them to grow and explore. Once we began visiting the area, we really fell in love with all it has to offer and are excited about the amount of nature we will have just outside our doorstep.”

Sean observed that there have always been artistic people in the area, and he is looking forward to many new partnerships.

While Sean may not have returned to “Hi-Land” in Southgate Township, he definitely has brought things full-circle as baselineMUSIC moves to the Baseline in Grey, more than a decade after its founding.

M.T. Fernandes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Dundalk Herald

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