The war of words between BreakOut West and the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM) over the festival’s use of unpaid talent performing at showcase events in Edmonton earlier this month is heating up.
The event organizers have issued a formal response to the CFM which organized a protest outside of the Edmonton host hotel.
This past week, the board of directors of the Western Canadian Music Alliance (WCMA), the governing body of BreakOut West (BOW), decided not to pursue a voluntary agreement with the Canadian Federation of Musicians (CFM).
BreakOut West is an annual gathering to celebrate, develop and support the best of western Canadian music. Western Canadian artists are developing sustainable careers of national and international scope, and BreakOut West is an integral component of this development. This event is about more than exposure. The artists who apply to participate in this event know that.
For artists to take full advantage of these networking and educational opportunities, BOW gives each artist a delegate package, a value of $215, per individual musician. Official showcasing artists are also all eligible to apply for provincial, territorial and federal funding to offset costs.
Inexpensive tickets are sold to the general public so that each artist is given the opportunity to play in front of their fans – and thus, put on the best show possible for the industry in attendance.
The majority of these venues are live music venues that support the local and touring music industry year-round. They are allowing BOW to program the music in their venue over two nights, music that may or may not be known to their regular crowd. They are taking a risk by changing their programming. This is also an opportunity to show venues that are being used that do not typically have live music performances as one of their key mandates, that supporting live music, making Edmonton a Music City, is something that benefits all Edmontonians.
80% of the artists who are showcasing at this year’s festival are not members of the American Federation of Musicians union or its Canadian counterpart.
Earlier this year, performing artists who are CFM members were given the choice of withdrawing from their showcases because of the disagreements with the union. Only two performers decided to withdraw due to the suggestion by the union that fines may be issued.
Discussions at the board level are taking place to consider making attendance at future BreakOut West events free of charge, but the shortfall in the budget will need to be considered earlier in the planning process.
BreakOut West records 10-30 seconds of some of the showcases for archive, marketing and news purposes only. We do not record full showcases nor have any of the performances available for streaming or broadcast. This falls within the Fair Use/Fair Dealing in which news and archives do not require copyright clearance. All of the showcasing artists are aware of this request, as it is included in their contract – they are not required to participate in this, and we have never had anyone ask to be excluded.
“We are disheartened to see that the CFM is putting so much energy into misrepresenting BreakOut West and in the process creating confusion and uncertainty for the very artists that they claim to represent.”, said board President, Christine Rogerson. “We hope that the union will find a way to acknowledge and recognize the value of BreakOut West to the on-going development of the careers of our upcoming industry movers and shakers. The further establishment of their careers and our support in that development will hopefully lead them to membership with the CFM and utilization of its supports and services.”
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please contact Robyn Stewart, Executive Director of BreakOut West and the Western Canadian Music Alliance
(WCMA), at (204) 228-6772, robyn@Breakoutwest.ca
Christine Rogerson, President of Board of Directors of the WMCA, is also available should you have any concerns, (780) 918-6460.
Direct all media inquiries to Robyn Stewart.