Bob Hoffman - photo by Bill King
Bob Hoffman - photo by Bill King

CMW 2018 Friday Wrap

CMW's Friday Wrap offers a continuation of the two categories introduced Thursday: the Radio Interactive Panels and the Live Touring Panels.

Topics include past-the-expiry date advertising, the state of podcasting, the future of cannabis sponsorship and a convo with U.S. label head Jason Flom, among others.

10:00 a.m - Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From Jersey

Choosing which forums to cover is a hit-and-miss adventure. Often, intuition and guesswork pay big dividends. If there was one session meant to be attended, this is it! Keynote speaker Bob Hoffman, a partner of Type A Group, an advertising and marketing consulting agency, spent more than 45 years in ad agencies creating campaigns meant to snag consumers and tether them to a product. In 2018, the battlefield is littered with the ad campaign "dead."

Reminding us that 85% of real dollars are in the accounts of those aged 50 years and above, he states that few agencies have anyone working in them anywhere near that age. Social media advertising? A bust!  Ad-blockers shut down your media buy, bots intercept, steal your purchase data and trash your buy. As Hoffman says, “We live in the age of delusion.” Retail sales? Only 2.1% occur through your smartphone, and you're getting five clicks per 10,000 on the display ads. There are 30B fraudulent ad impressions a minute, claims ad fraud researcher Dr. Augustine Fou. So, what remains the best buy for your advertising dollar? Radio! It targets the right people in the right place at the right time, and it’s the most cost-effective, claims Ebiquity, another media consultancy firm. (Bill King)

11:10 a.m. When Broadcast Meets Podcast: A Love Story?

With an estimated 550,000 podcasts in the ether right now and podcast monetization the Wild West of marketing, this panel offered up countless captivating avenues of discussion.

Moderator Matt Cundill deftly wrangled his excellent panel, who were engaging and on-topic throughout. Key talking points included whether re-purposed radio works in a podcast format (for the most part, no), how best to find an audience for a podcast (guest on other podcasts,) the audience that mainly is listening in (18-to-40-year-old predominantly male “cord cutters”) and why some traditional on-air best practices (airchecks, top-of-show content billboarding) are worth preserving.

That major broadcast players are already in the podcast game is no surprise, yet the assembled crew — notably Chris “Dunner” Duncombe, Corus’ director of streaming and podcasting, and Seth Resler, Jacobs Media’s fabulously titled "Digital Dot Connector" — made clear that old-school thinking has been officially chucked. And while the intimacy and storytelling aspects of podcasting remain its strongest calling card, the recent advent of Apple podcast analytics mean sea changes are a-coming, along with those inevitable ads. - (Kim Hughes)

11:10 a.m. A&R: When The Next Big Thing Is A Link

A&R in the digital age presents a different challenge from the old days when talent scouts would get a tape then see an act live. This panel presented record and publishing execs discussing their strategies in signing artists. Moderator Samantha O'Connor (of XL Recordings) stated that "A&R is in an evolutionary phase, but it is not dying." Grammy-winning exec and music supervisor Amir Windom said, "to be in A&R means you have to be the know-it-all at the label. I came up under Russell Simmons, and he stressed that you have to be well-versed in both marketing and creation." To Jessica Strassman of Columbia Records, "it is all about finding new talent and nurturing it. You have to figure out what is right for each artist.

These days, online is key. You have to move fast as everyone has access to everything now." The panelists differed in how much they are influenced by data and social network stats. To Jorg Tresp of German label Devil Duck Records, "it is 100% instinct and gut feeling. You also need to know the artist is fully committed." AJ Tobey of Rough Trade Publishing advised artists to pitch with two sentences and Soundcloud links to four songs. (Kerry Doole)

12:30 p.m. - Riffs and Reefers: Legalized Cannabis and Festivals

There’s nothing new about marijuana being a part of live music events. But with legalization coming soon to Canada, concert promoters and festival producers will have to navigate previously uncharted waters in terms of open consumption and potential sponsorship deals.

The common theme of the discussion? Be fully prepared to work within any framework the eventual law presents. “We’re building the bridge as we’re walking across it,” said Steve Clayton of The Soundskilz Group, which partnered with High Times in 2014 to stage the Cannabis Cup and the Chalice Competition. “Educate along with providing an experience.”

Jim Baudino, of Snoop Dogg's digital media platform Merry Jane, added, “Soon you’ll be seeing cannabis festivals becoming more common. The challenge is how cannabis sponsorship can be integrated on a wider scale.”

Those are major concerns. At this point, alcohol cannot be sold at cannabis-friendly events. Whether you’ll be able to buy a  joint or edible along with your festival beer remains to be seen. A model may be the reggae-heavy, three-day Monterey-based California Roots Festival, for which website Weedmaps is a major sponsor and attracts nearly 50,000 people.

Canadian festival producers should do their homework, says Darren Karasiuk, vice-president of medical marijuana producer MedReleaf. “Be over-prepared for any eventuality."  Nick Hodge, The Feldman Agency's head of partnerships, echoed Karasiuk's sentiment. “We have a lot of plans in place for the next six months,” said Hodge. “Obviously, this is a huge cultural shift for our country, and we’re taking it seriously.”

Will the concert and festival-going experience in Canada be radically different this time next year? Time will tell, but with the cannabis genie out of the bottle, the work to manage it is already underway. (Jason Schneider)

1:30 p.m  Asian Festivals 

A perfect storm of hiccups, delays and clumsy moderating, Asian Festivals was sold as an insider view of the live music scene serving 60% of the world’s population, courtesy industry heavyweights with knowledge of Japan, China, South Korea and beyond. But one panellist was late arriving which meant the scheduled 1:30 pm start time came and went... and maddeningly, discussion kept swinging back to the Malaysian election and wait-time at Schipol. Moderator Sebastian Mair wasted crucial time by permitting panellists (himself included) blabby, self-serving introductions, finally positing the first of only two questions asked at 2:03 pm. Here’s what we learned: unlike Kuala Lumpur, Korea doesn’t do Spotify; Singapore is YouTube-driven; trends catch fire on Chinese TV, and Japan has 24 dominant independent labels which may or may not offer meaningful tour support. Sigh. Talk about a missed opportunity. And will someone at CMW please address the noise-bleed problem persistently plaguing the Osgoode West ballroom? (Kim Hughes)

2:00 p.m. Reasserting Radio's Relevance

Roger Lanctot, Oak Hills, US-based Strategy Analytics' Director of Automotive Connected Mobility, stressed the importance of car connectivity in the future, but whether the radio industry will be able to access it is complicated. Although satellite radio has already got a foothold in the auto manufacturing sector by subsidizing their hardware and offering billions of dollars worth of kickback to the makers, radio has no similar deal. And Lanctot mentions a not-so-fun fact: Apple and Alphabet have certification authority over autos, "so before Ford or GM or Toyota manufactures a car today, they need clearance from both Alphabet and Apple." Whether this implication causes more trouble for radio station access in the future remains to be seen, but the potential obstacle is there.

Other invaluable nuggets: Lanctot says you won't need your phone as content will be streamed directly into your car; that there will be bigger and "hopefully less distracting" screens across your dashboard - and that the "infotainment" system in your car represents a "substantial chunk of value for automakers," but also generate the biggest amount of complaints. There will also be flexible systems that merge broadcast and streaming content, so if you lose the signal to one, the other will kick in. And lastly: "If cars are going to be driving themselves, it'll be a great opportunity to engage those people in those cars."  No fuelin'. (Nick Krewen)

2:30 p.m. - Ralph Simon In Conversation with Jason Flom: A Lifetime in Music and Justice

As the head of Lava Records, Jason Flom is one of the most important record label executives of the last 20 years. He had stints at Atlantic and Capitol Music Group, playing a huge role in signing and boosting such artists as Tori Amos, Kid Rock, Simple Plan, Lorde, Katy Perry, Stone Temple Pilots, and many more. He delivered many interesting stories, but it'd have been nice if interviewer Ralph Simon had asked some tougher questions and toned down the fawning praise. Flom modestly noted that his huge success in signing Lorde came down to "being lucky enough to get her demo first. You'd have to be fuckin' deaf to not get it [her talent]." Discussing Thirty Seconds To Mars' Jared Leto, he stated, "you just never know when you'll run into a genius."

He admitted "you lose more than you win," so it's a pity he didn't discuss some of the ones that got away or didn't work. He's now bullish on young Zeppelin soundalikes Greta Van Fleet, boasting, "we are going to save rock 'n roll." He also plugged his new children's book, "Lulu Is a Rhinoceros," and discussed his admirable work with the Innocence Project in fighting on behalf of the wrongfully convicted in the US ("it is an epidemic.. often the justice system doesn't care it got the wrong guy.") -  (Kerry Doole)

2:30 p.m. - Up and Coming: Fitting Artists into Arena Venues

When Toronto R&B sensation Daniel Caesar sold out five nights at the 1,500-capacity Danforth Music Hall last December, it not only cemented his hometown hero status, it also illustrated a potential shift in how artists create a live experience for their fans. Caesar could have performed a single night in a larger Toronto venue, but given that he had released his debut album Freudian in August, the notion of keeping things intimate with his audience was the overriding factor, said Feldman's Tom Kemp, his agent. “You ideally want to take your audience on a journey with you as things build. Often that takes several records,” Kemp says. “With Daniel, that’s been an exception, but we wanted to keep ticket prices low while figuring out how to transition to bigger rooms.”

The conversation between Kemp, Live Nation’s Denise Ross, Air Canada Centre's Tricia Silliphant, Ink Entertainment’s Jonathan Ramos, Collective Concerts' Amy Hersenhoren and longtime Toronto promoter and current vice president at Goldenvoice/AEG Live. Elliott Lefko focused mainly on Toronto. The ability for mid-level artists to put on large-scale shows is more and more within reach, said ACC's Silliphant, pointing to her venue's flexibility in staging and seating. “Every show is a risk, not just with finances, but with vibes too, and we’re conscious of that,” she said. “Part of what we do when booking artists who don’t normally play arenas is to convince their fans that they’re still going to get that personal connection.”

Lefko, who has booked Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds at the ACC in October, says artists are becoming more conscious of gearing their performances to bigger stages, using festival appearances to experiment. “The smart bands who are in the fine print of these big festivals are doing something different with their live show, which can only help them in the long run,” he says. (Jason Schneider)

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