Well, it was nice to have it back. After 2 ½ years of little to no in-person contact with the music industry, it was great to see people in the flesh–and finally meet some of those I’ve only ever met on Zoom.
Late Tuesday afternoon I headed down to the InterContinental to pick up my badge and was met at the media check-in by CMW publicist Damien Nelson who was speaking with City Of Toronto music man Mike Tanner. It was a mini-reunion of three NXNE staffers. Great to also see NXNE back this year as they showcase hot new talent this week until Sunday at music-starved venues in the downtown core.
My first stop was the kick-off concert at The Phoenix Concert Theatre where I ran into longtime production manager Scotty Carmichael who was getting the stage ready for Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs, BRKN Love, and local faves Crown Lands. Had a nice chat with Margaret Konopacki, Director of the Birdsong David Martin New Music Foundation who was hosting an event on June 9 at Duke Live. Ran into the band Harm & Ease, whose new single Lemonade is doing great, as well as radio plugger Oscar Furtado (Tandemtracks), caught the full set by Sam Coffey and then headed down to the Paddock Tavern.
There is a nice buzz about Saskatchewan artist Velours, nominated for Pop Artist Of The Year at the 2022 BreakOut West Awards, and there was a strong industry turn out including manager Jeff Rogers, Adam Lewis from Planetary in Los Angeles, music supervisor Scotty Taylor (Kiss The Sun), and Rich Brisson (Cadence).
Perhaps the busiest party event of the conference took place on Wednesday when the Cadence Music Group and data management company Disco hosted an event at Churchill on Dundas West. Iain Taylor and his team welcomed a huge cross-section of the industry from around the world. Spotted were Sounds Australia Executive Director Millie Milgate, LA film producer/music supervisor Jonathan McHugh, (legendary Canadian pop singer, businesswoman, television and radio host, and actress) Mitsou, now with Ray-On Music, bands Dear Rouge, Revive The Rose, Flowers Of Hell, King Of Foxes, and Excuses Excuses, It was great to see CMRRA’s Rebecca Webster before she heads off to England for a new opportunity, as well as Vancouver’s Hyvetown’s Music Patrick Zulinov and Instinct’s Michael Perlmutter. CIMA’s Trish Carter was in attendance, as too music supervisor Natasha Duprey–who would pick up a Sync award two days later, manager Bernie Breen, Wasserman music agent Rob Zifarelli, Ian Danzig and Atsuko Kobasigawa from Exclaim! Magazine, and Indie Week’s Zach McEwen-Jones.
A highlight for me was seeing Randy Lennox who worked with Iain Taylor and me back at MCA Records before he went on to head Universal and then Bell Media.
As the afternoon party wrapped up, everyone headed across the street to the Garrison for the Cadence/Known Accomplice showcase featuring Pink Leather Jackets, Excuses, Excuses, Animal Boy, and Texas King. A great night of exciting rock, and spotted amongst the crowd were musicians Tom Barlow, Kristen Prince, Jesse Coburn, and Aaron Verdonk.
Thursday morning was the CCS Rights Management/Daytripper Brunch, at The Broadview Hotel, where I heard performances by Poesy, Nuela Charles and Olivia Wendel. CCS Rights leader Jodie Ferneyhough welcomed guests such as Fraser Hill, managers Dave Spencer and Dan Hand, the Crank Media team of Stephen Young, Paul Jessop, and Lyle Chausse, Acronym Records' Tony Tarleton, east coast rockers Andre Pettipas And The Giants (in the studio this week with Brian Moncarz), York U music teacher Adam Faux, Juno award-winning Hill Kourkoutis, Susan de Cartier from Starfish Management, Lemmon Entertainment’s Jessica Lemmon, and Erin Kinghorn of eEK! Entertainment,
Next up was a first visit to the lobby bar where I ran into FYI’s David Farrell and Kerry Doole, Popguru Graham Stairs, Lyricfind’s Zack Werner, Geoff Kulawick from Linus Entertainment, lawyer Paul Farberman, Kevin Kay from K2 Artist Management in Detroit, and east coast producer Paul Milner. David Farrell and I were lucky enough to spend a few moments with keynote speaker and Public Enemy legend Chuck D.
The Slaight Music showcase at The Garrison included performances by Ryan Langdon, Jillea, Theo Tams, Roslyn Witter (yes, daughter to Jim Witter) and “It’s Your Shot” winners New Friends. Gary Slaight was in attendance as were his team of Derrick Ross, Barnaby Marshall, 'Parkside' Mike Renaud and Jim Campbell. Seen enjoying the music were Darryl Hurs from Downtown Music and Indie Week, musician/scribe Bill King, journalists Nick Krewen and Farrell, Unison’s Amanda Power and Jennifer Hardy, and Michael McCarty from the Kilometre Music Group.
Friday morning I attended the “Managers Panel: Working With Talent, Weathering The Storm'' session moderated by MMF’s Amie Thieren and featuring speakers Helen Britton (Six Shooter), Katrina Lopes (KL Management), Steve Lobel (A-2-Z Entertainment) and Wendy Ong (TaP Music) who joined virtually. They all seemed to agree that to be a manager you need to be able to pivot quickly at all times and that the pandemic affected all of their artists. While some artists shut down completely, others thrived by recording, live streaming and embracing social media such as Tik Tok. For some artists who find Tik Tok not their cup of tea, they embraced Web 3 and NFTs, creating new art while not performing live. Another point of agreement was that the labels need to pick up the ball and offer health benefits to their artists and that this should not be the sole responsibility of management. It was also mentioned that female artists are still having far too hard of a time on all social media platforms as they are constantly assaulted by trolls, and that management needs to talk to the platforms to try to find a solution for this never-ending problem.
Friday afternoon I spent some time at the host hotel with Mike Campbell (who would win a Live Music award a few hours later for his programming at the Carleton in Halifax), Evenko talent buyer Patrick Guay, UMAC’s Trevor Shelton, SATE and David “Click” Cox talking about their brand new film Onyx Experience, SoundCloud’s Hazel Savage, Feldman’s Tom Kemo, Sandy Graham from Cashbox Canada, Brian Hetherman from Cerberus Management, writer Karen Bliss and old friend and CMW mainstay Gary Taylor.
CMW keynote speaker and CEO of Hipgnosis Song Management Merck Mercuriadis invited a few of his old Toronto friends over to his hotel Friday afternoon for a get-together that included Universal’s Ivar Hamilton, Corus radio’s Alan Cross, former MuchMusic VJ Michael Williams, and CMW’s Neill Dixon.
I missed the beginning of the Live Music Awards at the El Mocambo but was still lucky enough to catch up with winners Liza Zbitnew (Phoenix Concert Hall/Bronson Concert), Craig Laskey (the legendary Horseshoe Tavern), Jeff Cohen (Collective Concerts), and Julien Paquin (Paquin Artists Agency) as well as CARAS CEO Allan Reid, APA’s Ralph James and Jack Ross, and musician Danny Michel.
One of the hardest working bands on the festival circuit is Saskatoon’s Autopilot and I caught their set Friday night at The Paddock Tavern before heading over to the Bovine where both the downstairs was packed, for performances by Drunkula and The Cola Heads (each band featuring a Sewell brother) and upstairs at the Tiki local musicians Finny McConnell, Jay Millette, Chuck Coles, and Eugene Ripper mingled with the likes of director Don Allan and producer Russ Mackay.
The week ended with a Beach tour with David Hazan. The New York-based strategic marketer spent a fair amount of time in the east-end neighbourhood and it was fun as he reminisced about venues and restaurants no longer in the hood.
It was good to be back and looking forward to number 41 next year.