CMW Refocuses Music Industry

Neill Dixon literally circles the globe trying to figure out the contents for his annual Canadian Music Week conference, yet even though the face of the existing music industry is changing rapidly, Dixon is still inspired by what he has witnessed at a number of other conferences and festivals as he completes plans for what will be the 33rd annual festival being staged May 1st to May 10th, this year at Toronto’s Sheraton Centre hotel.

“This year, I’ve been to, Australia (twice), New Zealand, South Korea, Europe and the States and what I have witnessed is encouraging,” noted Dixon. “When we first started the CMW there were very few music conferences, now it seems every country has at least one and maybe more. With the advent of the internet, the barriers have come down and countries are more accessible.”

Reacting to the computerization of the world’s music industry, this year’s CMW will again contain a Digital Media Summit (May 7&8)  that will encourage attendees to connect and network with brands, agencies, entertainment and digital media executives. Attendees are  also encouraged to identify key trends that are transforming and driving digital media concepts

Radio, developing trends in the Music Industry and songwriting workshops are also on the agenda, the Radio Interactive Symposium featuring two days (May 7&8) of events  and panel discussions including speeches by Corus founder, president and CMW Industry award winner John Cassaday and Roundhouse Radio network president and fellow CMW award recipient  Don Shafer.

Canadian Music Week’s three-day music summit (Thursday through Saturday May 7-9) is designed for both industry executives and recording professionals focused on the business of global music, encompassing three days of dedicated music programming streams: Day one) Social Music. Day two) Live touring and Day three) Global creative summit (including the Sync summit).

Fully aware of the drastic changes in the music industry with its falling CD sales, Dixon has organized the Music Industry forums to fall into three specific categories which will each have their own day. Day One features an International Festival Network B2B session in which a select number of attendees get to meet key global concert organizers to discuss how to place their bands on high profile concert festivals.

“Last year everyone was talking about who was going to replace the Rolling Stones on tour, now you’ve got One Direction that executed the biggest tour in history so I don’t think there’s a shortage of talent, there’s lots of new bands who will fill the arenas in the future . The Kids have their own heroes – they are not interested in the old stuff.”

Don Shafer, President of Roundhouse Radio
Don Shafer, President of Roundhouse Radio

“Live concerts are so important now, they are probably the most important revenue source for an artist,” Dixon noted. “Live festivals are now a key social gathering place and if you don’t like the weather here, there is always a festival going on in some part of the world. People these days think nothing of jumping on a plane and flying to a festival. Something we would never have done in our day.”

Day Two (Friday May 8th) presents a CMW Sync Summit where the largest gallery of music supervisors ever assembled will discuss the specifics of syncing songs into movie scores, television shows, advertisements and video games.

“Yes we know Neil Young used to sing about how he would never allow his songs to be used in TV commercials but I think all composers realize now how lucrative it is to get your songs in commercials and synced in movies,” noted Dixon. “It’s a big way to make up for lost income on the lack of CD sales and I don’t think anyone these days thinks it’s a sell out to have your songs in a commercial or a movie. Just imagine how much exposure your music gets in a video game that’s literally played thousands of times.”

The third day (Saturday May 9th is turned over to the singer-songwriter workshops,  The Global Creative Summit,  and these are the people Dixon still feels are getting shafted in today’s business. “The Techies got the jump on everyone in evolving downloading and social media,  record companies have tried to play catch-up but it’s the songwriters who are getting the short end of the stick. It’s still tough for them.”

Australia and New Zealand are the featured spotlight countries this year with Michael Gudinski, Chairman of The Mushroom Group leading a strong contingent of Australian and New Zealand industry representatives with several top new bands performing during the week-long live talent showcase.

Award shows have always been a staple highlight of CMW’s activities with the Canadian Music Industry Awards, the Radio Music Awards, The Crystals, the Indie Awards and the Rosalie Award all organized to honour key recipients in the Music and Radio  Industry community.

Key Hall Of  Fame Award winners at the Canadian Music Industry And Broadcast Awards i(to be staged May 7th at the Sheraton Centre) Include recording star Bryan Adams as the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Award winner, Warner Music Canada President, Steve Kane, eOne Entertainment President, Darren Throop and recording artists The Cowboy Junkies are all Hall Of Fame recipients and founding President and Chief Executive officer of Corus Entertainment, Jack Cassaday receives the Canadian Broadcast Industy Award. Don Shafer, President of Roundhouse Radio is this year’s winner of the Allan Waters’ Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Awards which will be presented on May 8th at the Radio Music Awards’ function.

Cowboy Junkies
Cowboy Junkies

A special series of live concert events including John Mellencamp, Noel Gallagher’s Flying Birds, Jesus & Mary Chain, Billy Talent, Whitehorse and Ron Sexmith will also be staged along with a CMW Comedy Festival starring Sebastian Maniscalco, Jeremy Hotz, Adam Growe and Orny Adams  as well as a CMW Film Festival that will feature a series of Indie movies soon to be announced.

This year’s CMW evening showcase has been expanded to run 10 nights instead of the usual five so that Dixon can sell the festival as a major tourist attraction. “It’s still the same price for a wristband but you’re getting twice the value for money,” Dixon notes. “Our research shows that a large percentage of attendees are tourists from the U.S and other parts of Canada so we are expanding the festival to boost the tourist angle to the festival.” More than 1,000 bands will be featured in over 60 venues city wide.

“In a way, even though record sales are still tanking, music streaming is becoming the number one choice for the millennials in how they obtain their music,” noted Dixon. “It’s promising because they are not stealing  now. They can still get it free but it’s not stealing.

As for the future, Dixon predicts that the music business is going to surpass the sound recording business in gross income.  “I am actually bullish on the future. A lot of people are still hung up on the traditional model, they don’t want to adapt. But those that do want to adapt are moving the business in a new direction.”

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