Kiesza at the CRMAs
Kiesza at the CRMAs

The CRMAs, Bob Lefsetz & the ‘G man’

Kiesza burns down the house with an energetic version of “Hideaway” at the CRMAs on Friday at the Sheraton (© Barry Roden photography)

Award shows — such as the Canadian Radio Music Awards (CRMAs) — play an important role in showing respect to the artists and team of people behind them. Getting one’s name out front to an audience in a crowded market is near impossible these days, so why not pause and reach out?

Music is still driven by radio, whether the ‘prophets of doom’ believe it or not. Radio co-exists with all other delivery systems. The same can be said for print, to which I am a slave. I still believe the best investigative writing, features, and journalistic duties are performed by the print media. Even with so much available at the tap of a finger, nothing feels as true and authentic as turning pages or twisting that dial. 

Impresario Gary Slaight is one sly devil. He e-mails me an invite to the CRMAs and then tells me he’s sitting me next to Bob Lefsetz — the letter writing man. ‘G man’ has a plan. Gary knows how much I savor good music writing; in fact, the G-man has sent me numerous hard-covers these past thirty years and he insists I read. He even sings a bit of Dylan to me if the mood is right.

You can call me Bob: The man behind the Lefsetz Letter


Lefsetz has carved a universe that bonds nearly every facet of the popular music industry. Old timers, newcomers, agents, bookers, managers all speak out from time to time. Lefsetz talks the raw side of music with a dash of song nostalgia in the mix. The future is one of no return — we are in motion, just where we land is a matter for speculation. 

The Lefsetz Letter is smart, handsomely scripted, and always thought provoking. I’ve enjoyed the Lefsetz journey the past few years — the long tail theory, 10,000 hours — the first to preach the marvels of Spotify and brush Tidal under the carpet. 

In a room with such accomplished industry minds, conversation flows through Lefsetz territory. Randy Lennox, CEO of Universal Music Canada, paused briefly to say the company was holding its own and now sees light on the horizon. Randy’s not afraid of change and he says it keeps him energized. I love asking questions and — even better — absorbing astute responses. 

CMW has been a good stopping point for intense, at times enlightened conversation. It’s not as much about sidling up to a firebrand manager or major label. You will still need to succeed, but not at the pace 99.9% of those who attend these conference/showcases are prepared for.  First, get your act together.

The six live performances showcased first-time chartbusters; Kiesza, MAGIC!, Dear Rouge, Andee, Virginia to Vegas, and country singer Jess Moskaluke. To get this far requires plenty of stage polish, touring, and that was most evident. Virginia to Vegas’ “We Are Stars” stuck with me throughout. Much of the current pop-driven sound is dance; the beat never fluctuates and the songs — well, not as refreshing as those of greater invention. The same can be said for nominee, Death from Above 1979 and their hit, “Trainwreck 1979.”

Radio legend Don Shafer delivered a classy address as he received the Lifetime Achievement Award. I had one radio deity point to the back of the room and shake his head in displeasure at the number of empty seats. These were purchased seats that sat empty when everyone should have considered Bob Marley’s famous saying, “Respect, Mon!”

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