Raine Maida on the Parallels of Music, Philanthropy, and Startup Life

Raine Maida with a guitar and microphone It’s not everyday that we get the chance to have a Canadian rock legend spend the afternoon with us.
Raine Maida is the lead singer and founding member of Our Lady Peace, one of Canada’s most popular bands. They’ve sold millions of records worldwide, won four Juno awards, and won ten MuchMusic Video Awards – the most ever awarded to any group. Raine and his wife, Chantal Kreviazuk are both strong advocates for War Child and have been rewarded numerous times for their humanitarian work including the Allan Waters Humanitarian Award. In fact, in 2014, Maida and Kreviazuk were appointed as members of the Order of Canada

When Raine was in town for a show, he stopped by Alongside HQ to chat about his new venture Record Mob and how entrepreneurship has played a part in many aspects of his life including Our Lady Peace. Raine has remained an incredibly humble person who was more than happy to share his journey with us.

Raine and Yves talking while being recorded
Raine Maida and Yves Boudreau hanging out at Alongside/Porpoise HQ.

The following is a snippet from Yves’ interview with Maida about music, life and entrepreneurship. And if you want to hear the whole thing, the audio recording is below. Enjoy!

Yves: What we’re going to do today is talk a little bit about how everything in life criss-crosses together. When I first met Raine, I was really impressed by him. In addition to his artistic abilities, he really knew the startup scene well and was very passionate about what he was doing. So today, I’d like to talk about entrepreneurship, how you’re balancing the whole side of it with the other things you’re involved in. 

Raine: The startup world has always been kind of facinating. I always look at a band as a startup. It’s your little incubation, you try to take it out into the world, you try to get someone to buy into it, support you. There’s a lot of parallels between the two. For me, I’ve always been in such a dynamic industry, and everyone’s seen the paradign shift in the music industry in the last ten years, being so intrinsically tied to that, in the middle of it, was a little bit, not shocking, but enlightening, I would say. This experience really helped me formalize and crystalize the idea I had for media and music, and like I was telling you on the ride here, we’ve kind of shifted away from music, which is a little strange, being a musician. What I love about this new space is it’s all data driven. As an artist, it was hard to do that before, now it’s easier. Being a musician back in the day was kind of a crap shoot. Now it’s amazing, streaming has taken it to the next level. That was a really long answer, right?

Want more? Subscribe to our newsletter today.


Yves: No, it’s good. I’m actually notorously known for giving long answers myself. You’ve got this thing now on the App Store, but is more than just an app. It’s called Record Mob. You started this a few years ago. I know you guys are definitely running your band as a business, you have to. As far as embarking into the software world or whatever you want to call it, what were some of the biggest challenges and things you’ve learned along the way?

Raine: Hindsight is 20/20, so I think the biggest challenge for me was the people that you choose to go on your journey with. You start something, everyone has good intentions, everyone’s working hard, you think it’s going to be great. No different than a band, a startup, you have to realize is a long journey, and the people really have to be in it for the right reasons. It’s not always going to work out, I think more often than not. That was a pretty big challenge, it became a barrier for a few months on how to execute properly and efficiently. You’re talking to investors, so you just want to keep everyone calm and feel like the plan and the mission is still intact and moving forward. I don’t really know how you do that any different, in terms of when you’re starting, sometimes you just need people that want to try it with you and are willing to sacrafice. Maybe you’re not going to get along as people, and eventually it’s not going to work out, but we say it’s better to do something than do nothing. Sometimes you have to align yourself with people that might not work too.

Yves: Maybe talk a little bit about the iteration of Record Mob today. I think it’s a pretty interesting angle that you guys have. 

Raine: Yeah, Record Mob started off really as a third wave media company. Third wave media is really when you think about Vice. It’s disruptive, awesome TV with explosive growth over the last few years. So, Record Mob started off as third wave but has evolved to be a very unique lens for content for everyone to use. We’re not Snapchat, nor Instagram. We live in a world that is very manicured and filtered. What’s missing is raw, unfiltered, edgy video content. It’s like Vice but for regular, everyday people. The concept is, if you want to be seen, be heard, just Mob it. 

Record Mob LogoRecord Mob is currently in beta mode but will be released in the near future. Stay tuned!

Yves: We talked about the parallels of art and entrepreneurship, what do you feel are the skill sets that you need to accumulate to help you navigate both sides of the equation?

Raine: You have to have thick skin and you have to be strong-willed. It’s probably one the most important traits you need to succeed. You just keep getting those no’s until someone says yes, basically. I feel like I had an easier time with the startup than I did the band. I have letters sitting somewhere in my mom’s basement with all these record labels saying, “No, we’re not into it. We don’t think it’s going to do anything. We pass.”

Yves: Perseverance is definitely something I’ve seen in a lot of successful founders. Having that constant optimism that it’s going to come together. One of the things I found about you when I first met you, was the incredible amount of empathy that you have in everything that you do.

Raine: What I love about the startup world in particular that I find different and distinct from the music business, is that there’s a community that’s really supportive. The entertainment industry is more cutthroat and competitive. Where in the startup world, you have tons of different people doing a lot of different things. They need the same protocols and mechanisms to get to whatever that success ratio is. I really think that people are more apt to help and offer opinions and advice.

Room full of Alongside and Porpoise team membersThe crew plus special guests at Alongside/Porpoise HQ. Panda was camera shy here.

Audience: You still have huge success in music and now you are doing something new. What was surprising to you in the transition?

Raine: The bottom line is that I’m very fortunate I get to do both. Record Mob really actually takes 90% of my time, thankfully OLP’s this well oil-machine at this point. I’m fortunate that I have that to fall back on. I think even mentally, it pays the bills. I put in the 20 years to build that up and now it’s probably going to take 20 years to get this going. Hopefully not. 

Yves: You’ve also been involved in a ton of humanitarian causes. Whats the most recent thing you’ve done?

Raine: About four years ago, myself and a partner of mine in the film business started a thing called “Harmony House”. It’s designed for US soldiers suffering from PTSD. The therapy for them is music to help them deal with the PTSD. We’re trying to find partners to help drive this initiative, because I really just don’t have the bandwidth to properly drive it. It’s close to my heart though. I’m very fortunate to have music. Being in a startup or band for that matter is not nine to five, and it’s stressful on you and your significant others. Music is all encompassing. When I need to escape, I just jump into a closet with a guitar and jam. It’s very healing and very healthy for me. It’s a release for me.

Audience: How has what brings you joy and meaning through the years changed?

Raine: My kids bring me so much joy. I have three young boys, ages 12, 11 and 8. They teach me a lot. I love watching my kids be interested in what I’m doing and helping me drive it forward. It’s amazing seeing them grow and I learn so much from them.

Audience: As a music artist, you really get to go with your style and produce what you love. I’m curious, when you’re developing a product, you really can’t take a, “we want to develop our thing”. It’s really like, you have to go and find what the market wants and make sure that it has value for others. How do you approach that?

Raine: I really think that even with product, you have to find your unique lane. Create something original. For producing music, I have a voice that I can’t adapt. It’s timing, its luck. I think that applies to product as well. There’s something intrinsic in all of us – passion. I know a few people who have tried startups, and you could tell it just wasn’t their passion, but they were doing it because they saw that carrot dangling, or they felt like there was a revenue model that was viable. At the end of the day, if you’re not really passionate about it, it’s going to fall by the wayside. Whether it works or not, you really need to be all in something.

Audience: What are the best marketing channels in your point of view that were most effective for more awareness of your product? Word-of-mouth, social nets, which are effective?”

Raine: Yeah we spent a lot of time drilling down on digital marketing, and I thought we had a really solid plan. I think it’s funny, at the end of the day, with all the technology in our hands, its really all about people. It’s grassroots, it’s no different to how the music business was to me. You can spend all the money on the planet on radio, video, etc., but we’re still very peer-driven. You want to hear from your friend, “You’ve got to get this app. Or, you got to listen to this band. Or you got to go see that movie.” Everyone’s trying to tell each other what the next best series on Netflix is, right? We’re human beings, I don’t think you can ever beat that. That’s really the litmus test for something, if it’s sticky or not. 

Yves: I’m really glad we were able to set this up. It was kinda a shot in the dark, by the way. I just emailed, I was like, “Fuck it, I’m just going to go for it.”

Raine: Yeah, I feel alive though. Coming and doing this, I have a motto that I take every meeting. I think you have to. You’re going to glean something from every meeting, good or bad. It’s time consuming. I have three kids, I have a wife, I have a band to take care of. I love this, it’s energizing and exciting.

 Raine with a dog
Panda with Raine. She’s practicing for Global Pet Foods Pet Calendar 2017

Having Raine spend the afternoon with us at Alongside HQ was special to say the very least. Thank you Raine for inspiring us and for the concert tickets. It was a great show!

Here’s the audio file for your listening pleasure:

Subscribe to our newsletter today. You won’t regret it.