As the former frontman of Montreal band The Doughboys, John Kastner is fully aware of the value and credibility Canadian Music Week brings to both the city of Toronto and the domestic music industry in general.
Serving as the annual event’s music programmer for the past six years, Kastner explained that the 37th CMW, set to launch May 7-11 at the Sheraton Hotel and at numerous music venues around the city, is a valid event because it is such an amazing institution. “It brings a lot of attention to this city, it attracts many industry people, managers, agent and artists, over 4,000 delegates every year, I don’t think Neill gets enough credit for everything he does”.
CMW, organized annually by Neill Dixon, consists of three days of the music industry related panels, three specific award shows; Music Industry And Broadcasting Awards (Thursday, May 9th at the Rebel Nightclub), Live Music Industry Awards (Friday, May 10th at the Sheraton) and The Indies Awards Saturday, May 11th at the Phoenix Concert Theatre) plus nightly artist showcases at various downtown venues.
An important function of this annual conference is its focus on current industry trends, and with the entire upheaval of the business over the past decade Kastner says this year’s event will be just as meaningful.
“Women in music or the lack of women in music is an obvious concern,” Kastner noted “and Streaming and the lack of money going into the music business that has been taken away because of streaming is of critical concern to the industry. Money is being paid out but it’s not being spread around properly. There are ways to address this problem but nobody will even talk about it.”
A CMW highlight has been the celebrity Q and A’s and this Friday, Foo Fighters lead vocalist/guitarist David Grohl will interview his mother Virginia Hanlon Grohl about her new book “From Cradle To Stage” in which she interviews other mothers of famous artists and provided her own advice on what to do when your child is a talented charismatic prodigy.
The annual music industry and broadcast awards acknowledges successful music personnel in various categories and this year also honours former Band member Robbie Robertson with the CMW’s Lifetime Achievement Award while the following night’s Live Music Industry Awards, hosted by Kim Stockwood, cites personnel in live music categories and will also honour Toronto’s Triumph with a Legends Of Live Music Achievement award.
CMW will then close Saturday night with the Indie Awards which will feature live performances by Jim Beam National Talent Search winners, Christee Palace along with, Lafrance, Born Ruffians and The Elwins.
South Africa enjoys its chance to spotlight its domestic industry at the conference with key artists performing throughout the week at Dundas Square.
Nightly new artist spotlights are also a CMW feature and Kastner enthuses that bands and artists are still being signed to booking agency and record company deals no matter how many people happen to be in the audience. “ I remember The Doughboys in 1988 performing at the New Music Seminar in New York City along with The Flaming Lips at Kenny’s Castaways. There couldn’t have been more than 20 people in the audience but we both got record contracts. The lesson here is always giving it you’re all because you never know who is watching.”
After 25 years of touring with The Doughboys, All Systems Go, Men Without Hats and Bran Van 3000, Kastner has moved on to set up his own vinyl record distribution company and currently manages a roster of bands including Men Without Hats, Dandy Warhols and The Replacements.
“My prime job right now is working with CMW,” noted Kastner. “I spent eight years working with North By Northeast so I know how these music industry events work. It’s always a challenge trying to predict what is trending, it never gets any easier but I love being involved in all aspects of music.”