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HomeNewsArtistsCanadian Music Week 2023: Day 2 - Marketing and Cannabis

Canadian Music Week 2023: Day 2 – Marketing and Cannabis


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The Music Void continues reporting on the conference programme of mighty Canadian Music Week 2023. This time, the panels on brand sponsorships and wonders of cannabis are in focus.


The Evolution of Brand Sponsorships

This discussion was about the evolution of brand sponsorship in the music industry. The panel featured representatives from a venue (Jenn Shah, Director, Corporate Partnerships, Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall), a brand (Lisa Li, Senior Brand Manager, Mixables, Beam Suntory), and an artist (Rêve). Together with moderator Phil Bouffard (Paquin Entertainment Group/Loft Entertainment), the speakers discussed how brand partnerships have changed from simply promoting products to collaborative and authentic relationships. They highlighted successful brand partnerships such as Coldplay’s collaboration with SAP to address sustainability issues and Rihanna’s Fenty brand, which promotes diversity and inclusion. They also discussed how venues can contribute to artist development and community engagement. The discussion underscored the importance of digital marketing and storytelling in reaching wider audiences and the opportunities for smaller artists in today’s music landscape. The panel also explored the potential for cross-cultural collaborations and intersectionality in the music industry.

Left to right: Lisa Li, Senior Brand Manager, Mixables , Beam Suntory, Jenn Shah, Director, Corporate Partnerships, Massey Hall and Roy Thomson Hall, Rêve, Artist, and panel moderator Phil Bouffard, Managing Director, Strategic Partnerships, Paquin Entertainment Group/Loft Entertainment

The conversation revolved around partnerships between brands, artists, and entertainment organizations, with a focus on aligning values and making a positive impact on communities. The panelists gave special attention to the importance of authentic partnerships that resonate with audiences and avoid appearing fake. They discussed various initiatives undertaken by organizations, such as community programs, music education, philanthropic work, and talent searches. They spoke about the value of diversity and representation in campaigns and the power of visibility. They also mentioned a collaboration between Hugo Boss and Rêve for an upcoming event, emphasizing the importance of a lasting partnership based on mutual understanding and collaboration.

The importance of collaboration, diversity, and inclusivity within communities and industries was also stressed. The speakers discussed the power of digital communities in reaching a wider audience and the potential for partnerships with brands to amplify voices. They emphasized the need for working together to drive initiatives and projects that benefit everyone.

Hitting the High Notes: Exploring Endless Opportunities in Music & Cannabis with Steve Lobel & Civilian Cannabis

Friday’s events came to a close with a definite high point, a discussion of cannabis and music. Enlivened by Steve Lobel, The OG king of Queens (mad respect, Steve) the panel explored the evolving relationship between music and cannabis within the next five years. The event was moderated by Rianna Ford (RE.UP | The Loud Plug), and also featured Michelle Linares of Civilian House of Cannabis. They emphasized that the cannabis industry is relatively new compared to alcohol and tobacco, and those involved in it now are considered pioneers who are breaking the taboo around cannabis.

Left to right: Panel moderator Rianna Ford, Events and Marketing, RE.UP | The Loud Plug, Steve Lobel, Artist Manager/Executive Producer, Lobel Music Group, Michelle Linares, Events and Store Manager, Civilian House of Cannabis, and celebrity Yorkiepoo Marley, was the hit of the panel!

The speakers discussed their personal experiences with cannabis, including its use for treating addiction and pain relief. They also spoke of the potential for collaboration and sponsorship between cannabis brands and musicians, as well as the untapped market for cannabis sponsorship in the music industry. Festivals and concerts are mentioned as opportunities to merge cannabis and music, with examples such as the Chalice Festival and High Times events. The panels stressed the importance of studying the progress made in states like Colorado and British Columbia to learn from their experiences. They also mentioned the need to be innovative and not simply follow trends.

Ms. Ford asked Ms. Linares about utilizing her platform to promote safe cannabis use in the music industry. Ms. Linares spoke about the value of authenticity and free speech in art, as well as the efforts of the entertainment company Civilian to create community spaces and promote local artists. Mr. Lobel emphasized the importance of education and mentorship in the music and cannabis businesses, and the need to have a strong understanding of the industry. The panel also touched on the importance of loyalty, transparency, and inclusivity in their respective endeavors.

They stressed the importance of knowing the source and quality of cannabis products. Mr. Lobel said that quality is crucial in both cannabis and music, mentioning the emotional connection consumers have with brands and the need to change perceptions around cannabis. They also discussed the influence of big pharmaceutical companies and the potential of cannabis as an alternative medicine. The conversation then shifted to music, with Mr. Lobel emphasizing the importance of talent and the lasting power of quality music. They mentioned the need for a supportive team and hard work in the music industry.

They charted the changing landscape of music distribution from tracks, cassettes, vinyl, and CDs to platforms like Spotify and Apple Music, where gatekeepers have less control and artists can gain popularity based on their numbers. Mr. Lobel criticized culture vultures and gatekeepers who fail to adapt to the changing times and protect each other, while also acknowledging that different generations have different tastes in music. Ms. Linares added that it is important to pay homage to the service workers, artists, and musicians who have contributed to the current state of music and cannabis culture. They underlined the need for education beyond social media platforms and encourage using the vast resources available on the internet. The discussion also touched upon the lack of respect for icons and legends among the younger generation and the importance of mentorship and learning from those who came before.

But all in all, the biggest hit on the panel was no doubt Ms. Linares’ Yorkiepoo, Marley, who sat on her lap relaxing when not sniffing around the audience trying to bogart some weed for a doggie bag.

To be continued…


  • Wayne Rosso

    Wayne Rosso has worked in music and technology for decades. He has worked with such artists as Aerosmith, Bee Gees, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Public Image LTD., Beach Boys, Phillip Glass, Fleetwood Mac, Rick James, New Kids on the Block, Slash, Evanescence and scores of others.


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