Making Noise with Six Shooter’s Shauna de Cartier

By Karen Bliss

CEO Shauna de Cartier wanted a career where she could “just be me all the time,” a textbook entrepreneur and path finder with an affinity for the arts. So the Edmonton native with an MBA from the University of Alberta abandoned a future up the corporate ladder and started managing a band, Captain Tractor. That was in 1998. Two years later, she moved to Toronto and started Six Shooter Records, which next year celebrates its silver anniversary.

“We are a team of 15 high-performance ninjas,” de Cartier tells Making Noise of her mostly female staff.

Her business partner is Helen Britton, with whom she started a new company in 2004, Six Shooter Inc., and moved her management roster over to that entity.

On the management side, Six Shooter currently represents William Prince, Tanya Tagaq, Whitehorse, The Dead South, Nyssa, July Talk, and Rheostatics, all of whom are signed to the label, which also has Boy Golden, Elliott Brood, T. Thomason, and Peter Dreams on its roster.

Their biggest success in the last year is The Dead South, who achieved gold status in Canada for the 2014 album Good Company, and platinum in America for their 2016 single, “In Hell, I’ll Be in Good Company.” The band also sold 125,000 tickets internationally across 48 shows, including their first Australia/New Zealand tour. Their merchandise business averaged almost $6 per head.

Throat singer and multi-disciplinary creative Tagaq also had a knock-out year, full of interesting opportunities and deals. She furthered her writing career with a piece in the Dear Rebel book; 2018’s Split Tooth novel was published in the UK; she completed the first of two children’s books and signed a deal for a second novel. Her 2022 directorial debut, Ever Deadly, also received a national theatrical release, and she composed songs for the HBO True Detective series and had a small role.

Prince also had a breakthrough year, making his Grand Ole Opry debut, doing live collaborations with The War and Treaty and Willie Nelson, earning an emerging artist nomination from the Americana Music Association, and a pair of Juno nominations. He is just wrapping up a coast-to-coast headline tour in the country’s largest soft seat theatres, after which he’ll be in Halifax this weekend for the Juno Songwriters’ Circle and the Juno Awards.

Six Shooter also won a 2023 Canadian Sync Award for Indie Label of the Year for landing high profile international sync placements and just this month de Cartier was awarded the Career Achievement Honour from Women In Music Canada.

She spoke to Making Noise about how she got from 1 to almost 25, how U2’s manager unknowingly influenced a major life decision, how her newborn baby led her to partner with Britton, and how Tagaq “deconstructed the house.”

You're approaching 25 years since starting Six Shooter. Many people who started a label back then did it with no plan, just sitting around their kitchen table putting stickers on mailing envelopes. You got your MBA (Master of Business Administration). How did that prepare you?

I started working on an MBA in 1994. I was doing it part-time, while I worked full-time. The reason why I went into the MBA program was to give me an extra leg up in the corporate world. That's a really helpful credential to move you further up that ladder.