CMW topper Neill Dixon on the welcome mat.
CMW topper Neill Dixon on the welcome mat.

CMW 2022: 40 Years and Still Going Strong

A lot of people have stayed away, but a lot of new people have come, and not just from across Canada.

Day two of the convention and I’ve met people from South Africa, Australia, Korea, Japan, France, New York, Los Angeles and a surprisingly large number from Quebec. It's pretty clear too that the makeup of attendees this year is far more cosmopolitan, international, and youthful. The old guard has been largely replaced by a new breed of entrepreneurs and they act, think and dress differently, and this is a good thing. One senses a new vitality, and with the new audience come fresh ideas.

The convention floor buzzes with activity. People are joyful to be reconnecting, catching up on each other, sharing stories–and making new contacts.

That’s what CMW is all about, making connections. The seminars and speakers are attracting attention and offering credible new information, or reviewing what has happened over the past several years and forecasting new trends, anticipated or real.

Merck Mercuriadis is on tomorrow. The Ballroom will be jam-packed. We’re all eager to hear what he has to say about the ballooning cost of IP and where the future lays in generating new fortunes in music copyright.

UMC topper Jeffrey Remedios was on the main stage today. No one seemed to know what he was going to say beforehand. We’ll be digging into the details of his surprising address in the next several days, but I’ll tell you it was a corker! Entirely unexpected. He told us about several signings out of Canada that are winning global attention–but that was to be expected. The self-promotion. Not the global successes, which most had no idea about.

The big takeaway from his speech was his ’believe in Canada’ theme, and pushing the message that we all need to work together to persuade our acts to support the Canadian music industry infrastructure–the lawyers, music publishers, managers, and record companies. To prove to them that we can market to the world from the home front and talk them out of signing to American record labels, American managers, using American lawyers and American music publishers. It was not the sort of message one expected to hear from a major label CEO, but Remedios is not your average guy. He has roots here and is a co-founder of Arts & Crafts–the indie label that has forever walked to the beat of its own drum. People came away feeling proud to be Canadian, and perhaps feeling a bit more confident that in this topsy turvy world of metrics, Big Tech and AI there is a way to take on the world without giving up one’s strongest cards.

Neill Dixon was and is visible and looking damn near half his age, although his voice is shot. On Monday he had no clear picture of what the turnout was going to be, but by Wednesday a.m. the count suggested 1,500 people would be registered. Over 200 from the broadcast community, cajoled and organized by Ross Davies who did a superb job in putting together a package of seminars for the sector. This, from the likes of Julie Adam and others who participated.

Oh, the numbers were down from pre-Covid, but that’s to be expected. There were a lot of people attending in the past who are now retired, and I'm guessing a sizeable number are still reluctant to mill about at a convention. The big unknown was what the buzz would be like, and how many would come.

Well, let me tell you, this is the place to be if you want to do business. The conference has become a global calendar event, and the international presence was noticeable and notable. Lots of new faces, lots of energy, lots of appointments set and meetings scheduled.

Outside the hotel is another world. The CMW Festival, with a line-up of acts that runs the gamut of genres and populated every kind of room with a sound system.

CMW 2022 was a glorious success and for those who attended it was a much-needed tonic and for many a homecoming after two-plus years of Zooming, texting and losing touch with the fact that there is a real world beyond a home office. And there’s the chance to make real money in music again!

CMW 2022 continues through Friday at the Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street in Toronto. See you at the hotel?

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