Folk Music Canada Returns From Kansas City With Its Report Card

Borealis FMC showcasing poster
Borealis FMC showcasing poster

Folk Music Canada (FMC) has packed up the lights and rolled out the road cases on its 2016 edition of programs at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City MO over four days last week.

While the organizers say specific results are still being tabulated, the success of its #FMCTopNotch initiatives is evident and the impact on the Canadian folk music marketplace is already being felt.

With this 4th edition of presentations at Folk Alliance International, FMC produced more than 75 showcases featuring 70 Canadian acts, and coordinated multiple international partnerships over the course of this music conference that took place from February 17 to 22.

Through its annual networking brunch, held in partnership with the East Coast Music Association and Music PEI, FMC brought together 40 ‘exporting’ artists and Canadian industry members with 80 programmers, booking agents, and managers from across the USA, UK, Ireland and Australia. The brunch was also attended by the (Chicago) Consul General Roy Norton.

The impact of these export activities is already apparent. Early measurements indicate that Folk Music Canada’s 70 showcasing artists generated more than $175K in bookings, distributed more than 25K CD (or download) units and came home with over 1200 business leads for follow-up.

As well, Canadian artists left favourable impressions on international talent buyers. Steve Johnson, Artist Relations Manager for Merlefest, an annual 4-day Americana festival in North Carolina, offered this feedback: “Folk Music Canada's showcases at the Folk Alliance International Conference in Kansas City offered a great opportunity to explore talent. Thanks in part to their efforts we have booked several Canadian artists for MerleFest."

Qualitative feedback from Canadian artist representatives also reflects these positive results. Nigel Jenkins of Groundswell Music, a Halifax based label and management group, offered the following feedback about their results working with the band Hillsburn: “As a result of showcasing at FAI, and working with FMC, the band secured an American booking agent, and impressed the founder and president of Pledge Music, Benji Rogers, so much that he offered to present the band's new album to Pledge Music's 500,000 subscribers.”

Additionally, digital marketing was a significant component of the #FMCTopNotch presentations, with SpinCount supporting this initiative as media sponsor. The analytics for FMC’s social channels indicate that engagement throughout the conference was high, peaking at 10K impressions daily on Twitter, and averaging 2.5K per day for the duration of the 14-day campaign. Organizers suggest the online engagement reflected the export focus of this project, with highest clicks outside of Canada generated in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and Ireland.

To complement these showcasing activities, FMC also created three SoundCloud streams to promote the showcasing artists to delegates and programmers.  During the 25 day campaign, more than 2K plays were registered, with listeners primarily concentrated in the USA.

The initiatives were made possible with the financial support from the Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, FACTOR, The Government of Canada and of Canada’s private radio broadcasters.

FMC sponsors included Folk Alliance International, SpinCount, The English Folk and Dance Song Society, The Canadian Federation of Musicians and Beehive Productions.