Beginners Guide to Covering the JUNOs

As we mentioned last week, DCMTL had the honour of attending the 2017 JUNO Awards. Being able to participate in Canada’s biggest music celebration, was an amazing experience. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I’d describe the JUNO experience as the C2 Conference of the music industry.

Being that this was our first experience covering an event as big as the JUNOs, we thought it would be a great opportunity to share our experiences, mistakes and takeaways from our weekend in Ottawa.

The DCMTL Beginners Guide to the JUNO


Open Rehearsal

The team met up in Central District, we packed the car and hit the road towards the Canadian Tire Center in Kanata. Our first event of the day was the JUNO Award Set Reveal and Open Rehearsal, featuring the Arkells. We were a little frazzled because we were cutting it close and we still hadn’t picked up our media credentials, but all was well when we arrived. Turns out media credentials pick-ups can be done anywhere.

Once we had arrived and settled in we were escorted onto the stage floor where we were able to get an exclusive first look at the JUNO stage and watch nominees for Group of the year, Arkells, rehearse their JUNO performance, hit single “Drake’s Dad.” Following the rehearsal, Max Kerman and Mike DeAngelis met with media for questions. The artists expressed that it was a great honour for them to be nominated once again and for the opportunity to represent their hometown of Hamilton at the JUNO.

Reception Gala

Our next event of the day was the star-studded, JUNO Welcome Reception, sponsored by Music Canada. The Gala was held at the National Gallery of Canada and marked the official beginning of Juno weekend. The venue was packed to the brim with award nominees, producers, the media and the DCMTL Blog team. Now as I mentioned earlier, we are not the foremost authority when it comes to the music industry. We spent the night, unwittingly rubbed shoulders with would-be JUNO winners and “missed” some opportunities to conduct those impromptu interviews we always see on the American Red Carpets. Turns out we weren’t allowed to interview anyone that night, so our ignorance prevented us from getting in a bit of trouble. The Reception itself was absolutely lovely.

Olé Playlist Live Party

After the welcome reception, we went to the Olé After party hosted by CBC’s George Stroumboulopoulos. Before I continue, I want to take the time to stress that planning out which events you will attend while at the JUNO is important, but constantly checking your emails while you are there is just as important. Like any worthwhile underground party, we got the invite to this exclusive event the day of, and frankly almost missed it. Fortunately, we didn’t, and what an event it was! The Olé Playlist Live party featured performances from nearly 30 Canadian Artists and JUNO nominees. The DCMTL Blog team was lucky enough to catch performances from the following artists: Carole Pope & Ben Kowalewicz, Whitehorse, Lindi Ortega, Jess Moskaluke ,Tasha the Amazon, Michie Mee, Chris Murphy, Arkells (who tore the house down), Fred Penner, Scott Helman, JJ Shiplett, Jim Cuddy and Kathleen Edwards. It was a blast!

Takeaways from the day:

  1. Confirm you are on the list, (If you have then proceed to)
  2. Don’t stress just show up
  3. Check your emails constantly
  4. Have a flexible schedule


Blogger Brunch

We started off the day with a Blogger brunch where we were treated to a presentation by Ottawa 2017 and Ottawa Tourism on the events we can expect in the city this summer. The event wasn’t directly related to the JUNO’s, but it was a great opportunity to meet some of the other blogs covering JUNO weekend. We got to meet and have a great conversation with the Montreal native, couple behind travel blog Entre 2 Escales as well as the founder of Fashion Blog A Piece of Elise.

JUNO Gala and Awards

Following brunch, the team regrouped and got ready to attend the JUNO Gala and Awards, presented by SOCAN. This time we showed up early and got the perk of being able to set up with other major media to shoot the evening’s Red Carpet. While half the team was covering the Red Carpet arrivals, the rest of us were setting up in the Media room for interviews. Now, I think it’s important to note at this point that we had the distinct impression (we blame American television) that the Red Carpet was THE place to do interviews. This is an illusion, interviews at the JUNO really only occur at predetermined times, and pretty much only right after a JUNO win.

Essentially, the press room is set up and the winning artists are brought into the press scrum and are able to answer questions for a limited amount of time. During the night we had the chance to interview Laurence Nerbonne (winner of Francophone Album of the Year) and Buffy St-Marie who was awarded the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award, for her dedication to protecting indigenous communities and indigenous intellectual property, which have been at the epicentre of her lifelong activism. Central District’s own, Melanie Joly was also in attendance to present the award for Breakthrough Group of the Year.

Takeaways from the day:

  1. Make friends with everyone you meet (because you never know)
  2. Punctuality can yield benefits
  3. Divide to conquer
  4. The Red Carpet is not where interviews go down


The 2017 JUNO Awards night

On Sunday morning, the team woke up motivated and ready to apply the lessons we learned from the night before. We got together to prep our strategies and how to properly coordinate our efforts to cover the event and develop great questions for the award winners. We arrived for the Red Carpet Media check-in at 1 pm (on time), however, our punctuality was not rewarded this time around. When we arrived we found out we were not registered for the Red Carpet (oops) and that they had no room for us until 4:30 (double oops) but we did find out that we would have the chance to watch the JUNO’s live from the press box and not just on TV – like the night before – so that was a plus. We ended up making the best of our situation by hanging around the stadium and chatting with the other blogger and journalist that were present. Our “strategy” paid off as we were able to meet our local MP Mélanie Joly, Hosts Russell Peters and Brian Adams, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his whole family, before watching the awards live. The rest of the evening went off without a hitch, as we sat back and took in the main event of the weekend. A perfect way to cap off a wonderful JUNO weekend.

Takeaways from the Day:

  1. Punctuality is not always rewarded
  2. Don’t be afraid to be bold
  3. When you are faced with a setback, improvise
  4. Make friends with the other media. They will be your on-the-spot guide

The event was an eye opener into the inner workings of covering the Canadian music industry. We had a chance to learn about what makes the artist tick and what inspired them to get into the industry in the first place, all while experiencing their art first hand. We made some new friends along the way and learned some very valuable lessons about covering major events.

The JUNO will be in Vancouver next year, so keep an eye open for media accreditation! On our end, DCMTL will be ready, and we will be glad help guide other first timers through the process.

Stay tuned next week for the release of our video coverage of the JUNO!

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel and relive the experience with us.

Chad Walcott

Chad Walcott

DCMTL's Community Manager, bringing you community news, events, politics, and anything else District Central!

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