Joined: 14 Nov 2003
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Canadian Music Week: Part 2
By Maurice Ali: FOF Records/FOF Inc. and Journalist
Musicians and Industry people at the Royal York Hotel where the convention was held!
"Short of kidnaping them, this is the best way to reach the cream of the industry crop, those VIP's with the freedom to make strategic decisions and major purchase orders. Housed within the conference floor, these limited number of exhibitor spaces are the most prime real estate at CMW. "
That quote above was from the Canadian Music Week website. Mostly true with regard to the small industry here in Canada. I really wanted to get into this convention, really wanted it bad. Here I was, running this small record label, yet doing all the things a real label does and not some vanity. I had recorded at world class studios. I had produced every way imaginable, did production favors for groups like Glass Tiger and Saga, hired Grammy and Juno nominated production staff (sometimes with "creative" payment arrangements), hung out with folk like The Barenaked Ladies and Jeff Martin. I did business with some of the biggest broadcasters and radio stations, and retail from all the usual suspects. I am part of the Canadian Music Industry dammit!
I wanted in and when I finished the first part of this article, I sat back and decided to crash the party.
A table with "calling cards" of industry and acts at the convention and festival!
The hard part was getting in as the pass can go for as much as a grand. I could pay this but there are more important things for that money than me going to a convention. So I drove down to the hotel where the convention was held and broke in uninvited.
These guys were some of the "gate keepers" and didn't mind me looking around and taking
Surprisingly nobody seemed to care much and I started to wander around. I had my P&S camera to shoot a few pictures and left the pro bodies home as I did not want to attract attention (and there were pro photographers there would have started asking questions).
I will get more into this in the conclusion, but I want you to take a good look at the topics. They are aimed mostly at broadcasters and not record labels. You would be hard pressed to think record labels had anything to do with the industry anymore, and they may be right. Broadcasters were everywhere!
And interview setup with some old Panasonic P2 HD recorders!
News media were there in small number as this was a trade show and convention. The real news media were at the festival. Conversations seemed to revolve around presentations to companies. Don't ask why but I found all of this really exciting.....
What is this? Our old adversary "The Haliburton Group" was at the convention!
Like I said the convention was mostly broadcasters, like the Haliburton Group! I have issues with these guys as they foiled all of our attempts to purchase this little radio station in North Bay. At the very start of FOF a group of us decided to just toss caution to the wind and try to start a radio station in the rural areas. There was this opportunity for one in North Bay. We eventually gave up as it seemed this nice Ma & Pa operation was interested and more experienced. Later the Haliburton Group got in and got the radio station. MooseFM - well maybe we were better off without the station (that's a lie as I would have loved running a small radio station...).
Much Music had a display as well as CHFI, all big broadcasters. Much Music is now owned and operated by CTV.
Look who else is here - The New Flow 93.5!
I find it very funny that Flow - or the "New Flow" - is at Canadian Music Week; as they really don't promote Canadian music all that much. I know this first hand from my attempts to get any airplay from our artists. Simply adhering to the broadcaster code forced a positive response from us, but the fact remains that they do not support upcoming Canadian artists like they did in the early days.
An entrance to one of the rooms with vendors. The photo above and below show the usual industry trade show set up. There was also a room where you could get tickets for acts playing in the festival. I had to keep a low profile as waltzing through seminars with a camera clicking away and no "dogtags" would get me thrown out of the convention very quickly!
And so it went on like any other convention. All business and no booze or drugs or any other shenanigans that I could find. At this level it is all business, and I like it!
Ok, check out the photo below. You would think that Canada was this inclusive media society with a multi-cultural flair at the convention. I saw not one Oriental at the convention, not one! I suppose maybe we would see some Orientals speaking at the seminars noted on the huge poster put out by the government. I suppose in this case the spotlight really is on China and not Canada! Having said that, I will have to admit that while this is empirical evidence on my part, I was not at the convention long enough to truly make the statement that there were no Orientals at the affair. I am sure there were some, but very few indeed!
Government involvement at the convention!
While I would say the convention as almost entirely "White" in makeup, there was nevertheless a small but noticeable amount of "Brown" people like myself. I am almost sure these folk are from West Indian heritage as they are more embedded into Canadian Culture. Well I was there and my background (being born in Canada and raised in the Prairies, etc.) tell the tale better than anything else. It is clear that Canadian media needs to be more inclusive and representative of the current population. The photo below shows one such member of the music industry taking care of business!
One of the minorities participating at the convention!
1. The convention has to be easier to attend by the industry. The one thousand dollar entry fee is to steep. Even for corporate businesses, this is steep. Sure we are talking entry level participants, but this is where the action is right now. Look, getting a booth and two passes is two thousand, why the steep price on the walk-ins? I know that the grand is for all events and such, still that is too much! I also understand about keeping the general public out, but music producers and publishers with airplay and corporate identity like Fortress, should not have to sneak in to participate.
2. Being more inclusive to other cultures. Other cultures should not be some "side show" seminar but embedded media participants at Canadian Music Week!
3. More record label involvement at the convention. I did note that there were a few labels at the convention. I know that Rosedale Records had a booth set up somewhere there, but that level of representation was lacking.
In fact, the convention itself was a model of how to run a music convention without anyone there that in anyway produced music! Broadcasters galore but very few people who actually get their hands dirty finding the talent and developing it and putting out the music like Fortress does. I will come back here next year, I really want our concerns to be addressed as much as possible to this powerhouse of media. It is a powerhouse as Astral Media (for example) seems to own a good portion of the radio stations in Canada. This convention was a good place to introduce upcoming bands to broadcasters, this much was true. But it could be more, much more. Time will tell.
From files of Maurice Ali