Canadian Music Week 2013

Celebrating 31 years, Canadian Music Week is Canada’s leading annual entertainment event dedicated to the expression and growth of the country’s music, media and entertainment industries. Combining four information-intensive conferences; a trade exposition; a film festival; a comedy festival; four awards shows and the nation’s largest New Music Festival – Canadian Music Fest – CMW spans a five-day period from March 20 to March 24, 2013 at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and over 60 various downtown Toronto venues, attracting participants from across the globe.
Wednesday, Mar 05, 2008
Executives at Canadian Music Week discuss new business landscape

Cassandra Szklarski, THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO - The CD is on death's door. New bands are doomed. So say some industry insiders as the country's new music festival, Canadian Music Week, launches Wednesday with some 500 bands in search of stardom, or at least a steady paycheque.

With record sales declining and unauthorized downloads the norm, making it big isn't what it used to be, says uber-manager Bruce Allen, whose superstar roster includes Michael Buble, Anne Murray and Bryan Adams.
"I would hate to be a young band today, battling," says Allen, who admits he measures success by securing arena-selling tours. "They'll make a living. If that's your goal, to make a living, then good for you. But that ain't my goal."

The days of monster tours could well be over in a couple of decades, he suggests, struggling to come up with a list of contemporary acts that could one day match the ticket sales of the Police, Elton John, the Eagles or Bruce Springsteen.

Allen, who will be presented with an achievement award Wednesday by the Music Managers Forum of Canada, says his biggest struggle has been to wrap his head around the technological changes that have overhauled the music business.

"If somebody had a video camera (at a concert) we used to go out there, take the video camera off him and smash it," he notes.

"Now you can sit there and everybody's got a mobile phone and they're taping the show and this and that and we just let it go now. The biggest thing I think now is content, content, content. It used to be: 'No mystique, big mistake.' I have to try to embrace these carriers and get to a point where I'm not going to freak anymore if the music's out there and I didn't get paid for it."

That means things like getting a professionally shot video to post on the Web, participating in online-only concerts, or releasing special remixes online.

"The record side's tough now," he says.

"Michael Buble's selling five million records in this era. He probably would have been selling 15 million if it was in the '70s and '80s, in the heyday. My style hasn't changed much but my ability to adjust to the new technology and understand it is difficult and I'm really learning all the time."

Nettwerk honcho Terry McBride is often regarded as one of the few music executives at the forefront of the digital wave, most notably by opposing the major label battle to litigate unauthorized music downloads.

The secret to coping with declining CD sales is a little imagination, says McBride, boasting that 60 per cent of Nettwerk's record sales came from digital revenue last year.

"Most of the business is focused upon protecting, to the best of their abilities, old ways of doing things," says McBride, who will be inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame on Thursday as part of the CMW festivities.

"(For us), it sometimes means that we release an album digitally three or four months ahead of releasing it physically and let the music grow enough that when we do release it physically, it actually has a standing chance."
McBride, whose management roster includes such heavyweights as Avril Lavigne, Sarah McLachlan and Barenaked Ladies, says he "absolutely" sees the possibility of one day not even releasing a physical CD at all.

Nettwerk's folk-pop band the Weepies saw 80 per cent of their music sales come through digital sales, he says. The CD sold roughly 25,000 copies.
"At one point don't you release a CD to the statistical regional market and just have it be a sort of mail-order or a sort of print-on-demand situation?" he says.

"We're going to see a major shift within inside the video business where you're not going to have Blockbuster having 50,000 titles. They're going to have a million titles and as you want to buy it or rent it, it'll be custom-burnt right at the front desk."

Little labels are struggling with the changing landscape too, says Sloan guitarist Jay Ferguson, who runs the murderecords with his three bandmates.

The rock band, whose poppy hits "Underwhelmed," "The Good in Everyone," "Money City Maniacs," earned them both college and mainstream followings, started the label in the '90s with releases by acts including the Inbreds, Local Rabbits, Superfriendz and Thrush Hermit.

"Back in the '90s we would send the records to college radio, make some posters and they would go on tour. And back then we would make videos as well, too, which was when MuchMusic still played a lot more videos in rotation," says Ferguson.

Today, one of their main promotional outlets has been small, indie music blogs.

"I literally would just write them and say, 'Hey man, I like your blog.' And sometimes they would write back and say, 'Hey are you Sloan?"' he says laughing. "And I would go, 'Yeah, do you want to hear....?"

But despite all the new avenues for breaking an act, it still comes down to the music, says Ferguson, who hosts a murderecords showcase with his bandmates on Thursday.

"There's still nothing better than seeing a band play live. I think that's the best promotion you can do."

Big-name guests set to take part in CMW shows and seminars this weekend include Bob Lefsetz, Alanis Morissette, Moby, Lowest of the Low, RZA and KRS-One.
On the Net: Rogers MusicStore CMW 2008