Among the hundreds of bands, solo artists and such who congregate at Canadian Music Week festivities each year, all share one common premise: Getting noticed — by the right people, in the right place, at the right opportune moment.
And if attempts to stand out in a crowd of some 500 Canadian, U.S. and international artists sound too daunting a task, CBC Radio 3 personality Grant Lawrence suggests a much simpler approach to the four-day music festival, which runs tomorrow through to Saturday: The networking opportunities are just too good to pass up.
“Instead of just having artists constantly touring, which can get to be very expensive, CMW brings the industry all together in one city as a one-stop shop of panel discussions, live showcases and meetings with the music industry folk,” says the Vancouver-based Lawrence, whose satellite radio programs and podcasts for CBC Radio 3 offer one of the few strong mediums in Canada to promote independent talent.
You could be any one of West Coasters Vancougar, East Coasters Hey Rosetta! or already famous names — Sloan, Burton Cummings or Anvil — showcasing, curiously witnessing unfamiliar acts, schmoozing with record label execs or taking part in panel discussions with radio industry folk. If lucky enough, they can all sit in to hear legendary Kiss bassist Gene Simmons deliver a keynote speech.
Lawrence also points out that CMW can often be utilized as a stepping stone to appearing at other prestigious music festivals such as South By Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas or New York City’s CMJ Music Marathon.
“It can only have a positive effect for those participating, so it’s practically a necessity to be there,” Lawrence says.
From the perspective of the acts taking part, fresh-faced talent should make the most of the networking aspects CMW offers, according to broadcaster, researcher and former Canadian bureau chief of Billboard magazine Larry LeBlanc.
“You need to target a booking agent and a manager with two or three artists — particular one that has something already happening with them, and try to find acts that stylistically complement with what you do and suggest a co-venture,” LeBlanc says.
For the music fan, the plethora of talent appearing at CMW would go against the grain of reported suggestions that the music industry is on its death knell. In this Internet-friendly era, the added power of online promotion — whether aided by Lawrence’s shows, worldwide exposure via YouTube and MySpace or mere chats between friends — assures the likes of Edmonton’s quirky pop-rockers Hot Panda establish as loyal a fan base as Montreal trip-rock duo Beast.
“A lot of people out there would be quick to say that the music today is worse now than it was years ago. I have a problem with that belief,” LeBlanc says. “If you look hard enough, there’s a ton of great music being made.”
Local acts to watch
• Human Highway
• Melissa McClelland
• The Schomberg Fair
• Spiral Beach
• Serena Ryder
• Crystal Castles
For details on showtimes, visit www.cmw.net.