It's pretty obvious that Phil Kluba would rather be promoting other people, bands and venues than promoting himself. “This is the most I’ve ever talked about myself,” he jokes, in his mild-mannered way.
Specifically, Kluba promotes Toronto-and-area bands through his newly-minted Live is Better entertainment collective, which encompasses music event promotion as well as his video production services (Press It). Because he's entrenched in the music scene, Kluba explains that artists trust he’ll understand their vision and also the logistics of a studio or venue.
Since mid-March, the company has been hosting events at 3030 (3030 Dundas West), to be held regularly throughout the year in Toronto’s emerging Junction neighbourhood.
Live is Better promotes their brand for its own sake (via merchandising) and also as a way to promote the bands it works with, using Instagram, YouTube and other social media. The promoter also tries to do things differently and, well, better, by ensuring bands are paid upfront, for example.
Kluba’s aim aligns with the city’s push to promote its musical acts and boost its NXNE draw: “There’s a scene here waiting to be discovered,” he explains.
“I love Toronto. Toronto does have a great music scene, it’s just not advertised correctly. There are great bands in every venue – you can go out any night and find a great act.” Kluba himself prefers small venues and up-and-coming acts. He credits Ride the Tiger with turning him onto live music and also praises the performances of local acts the Rathburns, OL’ CD and Common Deer.
Music has been part of Kluba’s life since he was a kid. He was singing, writing and performing at 11-years old and later studied sound production at Metalworks Institute. He was even offered a development deal from a record company at 16 for his pop-punk band. He and his family declined the offer and surprisingly, Kluba says he has no regrets about it.
“It wasn’t a good idea…. I would’ve been in debt for a long time.”
While he may not have known that at the time, he’s become more business savvy by working in the industry and more recently, through receiving a FACTOR grant (a federal recording grant) and participating in Enterprise Toronto’s Starter Company program, where he gained confidence with client relations, tax structures, employment strategies and marketing.
“Little did I know this would actually shape the rest of my life,” he says.
Kluba jokes that he was advised to “forget about that passion thing, that’s not gonna pay your bills.” He clarifies that the program helped him focus and shape the things he was truly passionate about into a viable business.
“It taught me that you don’t just become successful – you have to build it up.”
Live is Better hosts primarily soul, funk, dance, folk, and rock acts – “anything that’s entertaining.” Their next event takes place May 28 at 3030.