Thursday at CMW: Panels & Speakers

Canadian Music Week is in full swing, and the Thursday conferences dealt with radio and music.

Intrepid FYIMusicNews reporters staked out several panels to give you the skinny. Click on the URLs for the names of the full panel participants, as we offer short and sweet summaries in chronological order to outline the essentials...

10:10 a.m. - If You Book It, Will They Come? The Festival Market At A Crossroads

TURF Gets Turfed and Other Festival Musings: This informative discussion explored the recent proliferation of music festivals and what it takes for fests to succeed. In his opening remarks, Ralph Simon noted the UK will host 1500 such events in 2017. Feldman’s Joel Baskin stressed “there’s a saturation in the market. We’re at a tipping point.” He confirmed rumours that Toronto’s TURF won’t return this year, ironic, given that it just won a CMW award.

Fellow agent Rob Zifarelli (UTA) stressed that “fests need topline talent. Relying on a brand can be dangerous.” Bonnaroo’s failure last year was cited, but there are exceptions, like Glastonbury and Coachella.

Glastonbury head Martin Elbourne was in the audience and explained that Glasto sells out instantly before a lineup is announced. Veteran tour manager Chuck Randall stated that fests better look after artists well, or they won’t return. Bring on the fresh oysters - Kerry Doole. 

11:10 a.m. - Reinventing Radio & Storytelling In the Multi-Connected Life

Panelists contend that the narrative podcast is more potent than television, as the imagination is more active when listening than watching. And the next wave - contextual radio streaming, with the internet broadcasting real-time music, news, stories and local information - is here. Listeners will tune into radio longer hours as it returns to great storytelling and individual topics of importance and interest. The automobile will be a paramount location for "driveway moments" - staying in your car until the story fades. Listeners will self-design their own apps, and a new language, consisting of terms like EFFT, RDJD, GEO Soundscaping, Assisted Intelligence, Voice Triggers, Spatial Storytelling will be absorbed and practiced. - Bill King

11:45 a.m.  - Keynote Interview with Scott Borchetta

Circumventing FCC Regulations and stabilizing Spotify: Big Machine Label founder Scott Borchetta managed to establish a co-venture with the Cumulus Radio Group with his Nash Icon label by suggesting a country classic format whereby "you play a new Reba song and then an old Reba song; a new Garth Brooks song and an old Garth song."

Borchetta says the partnership, which includes Westwood One and approximately 100 terrestrial country stations, gets around potential FCC conflict of interest by broadcasting the following announcement at the top of each hour:

"There will be songs this hour from the Nash Icon label done for promotional purposes." In terms of Spotify, Borchetta insists "we have to make it profitable; we have no choice" and says he's willing to give the streaming service exclusive premium content in order to attract subscribers, but that the service needs to also do a better job of selling their "freemium" content and make sure there's a difference between the two.

Oh, and as to what Taylor Swift is up to? "I will comment on the records, but when it comes to other stuff I have a rule: the first rule of Taylor Club is not to talk about Taylor Club," says Borchetta. -- Nick Krewen

1:00 p.m. - The 411 on the 416: How TDOT Put Punctuation On The Music World

Fêting Drake’s hometown (or, how the rap was won): Canadian hip-hop has a very good friend in Toronto… or at least, it had the good fortune to happen at a time (pre-Internet, early 1990s) when influential campus radio was run by a cheeky bunch of rule-flouting music heads who sought camaraderie with prescient promoters and music publishers indifferent to the mainstream.

Another major theme of The 411 on the 416: How TDOT Put Punctuation On The Music World: Canadian record labels were spectacularly flat-footed on signing and promoting rap, acting only when easy profit was visible on the horizon. Also, that Maestro (né Maestro Fresh-Wes) should be canonized for his towering influence. The panelists’ breathless devotion to one another and the scene they carved out of nothing was both palpable and heartening. Having the last word will do that for you - Kim Hughes.

1:00 p.m. - Artist Manager Interview with Bob McLynn

How Crush Music’s Bob McLynn conquered global pop: Most fans of Bob McLynn management clients Lorde and Sia would likely be surprised to learn that one of the primary figures guiding their careers once played in an alt-metal band. Yet, the lessons McLynn learned the hard way about artist management planted the seeds of the empire he and partner Jonathan Daniel now preside over with Crush Music.

McLynn said he saw a lot of himself in his client Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz: “He had a tireless work ethic, and his approach to using social media was really unprecedented at the time. That really provided the model for how we built our roster, by helping artists reach their goals through our experience. We still don’t use contracts with most of our clients.” McLynn said his return to CMW was nostalgic: his former band The Step Kings signed with Roadrunner Records due to a CMW showcase.- Jason Schneider

2:00 p.m. - Pass the Windex, Please: Gender Parity and the Glass Ceiling In Live Music

Sorry ladies: the glass ceiling exists in music, too: After “cash bar,” are there two more fraught words in the lexicon than “gender parity?”

That’s not a cavalier comparison; if you believe Julien Paquin of the Paquin Artists Agency, the main goal of most music festivals is to “sell alcohol. Serena Ryder and Buffy Sainte-Marie don’t sell alcohol. The Sheepdogs do.” So, guess who gets booked more often? Citing a 2016 Huffington Post article, which found the number of women on-stage at major festivals doesn’t nearly mirror the numbers in the audience, the issue of gender parity in music (and, perhaps oddly, at conferences) was off to the races.

Solutions? Ha! But a few solid ideas were floated: quotas are sometimes good, male allies are essential to the fight and, as in science, government and the corporate sphere, change at the top is key. So is continuing to have the conversation - Kim Hughes

3:00 p.m. - Top Chops: Marketing Best Practices With Canada's Leading Indies

Indie label marketing 101: Throw it at the wall and see what sticks: An enlightening discussion about how increasingly unpredictable it is to know what will break and what won’t, the only common ground the panelists agreed on was that marketing plans most often change completely by the time an album is released.

What seems more common these days are tactics that directly engage an artist’s fan base—sometimes through trial and error—and ideas that build on an artist’s non-musical interests. Dine Alone's Ryan Spalding cited the example of launching Monster Truck’s single “The Enforcer” through Hockey Night In Canada, while Coalition's Devi Ekanand noted her team’s success utilized pledge campaigns as a marketing tool. “We love using these because they really strengthen the connection between the artist and their fan base,” she said. “The more the artist is involved in the marketing strategy, the better.”   - Jason Schneider

3:40 p.m.  - Iconic Women In Broadcasting

Women in broadcasting: same as it ever was: Branding is not just for ketchup anymore. That was one of the more salient takeaways from Iconic Women in Broadcasting which placed Canuck veterans, radio star Maureen Holloway and TV presenters Kate Wheeler, Christine Bentley and Jeanne Beker in faux Le Corbusier armchairs alongside moderator Kirstine Stewart for what turned out to be an issue of Chatelaine come to life. Innovations in mat leave, the importance of being real and the question of whether career women can “have it all” (sigh) all got their dog-eared due.

With one exception - Holloway’s sage advice to upstarts to leverage the DIY media culture and technology at their feet before chasing their dream job - there were few nuggets of wisdom imparted to those seeking a foothold in mainstream media. Then again, that’s what the interweb is for… - Kim Hughes



Leave a comment