Another year, and another great Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto. However, unlike other conferences TMV attended earlier this year, CMW must be weathering the global economic turmoil well, as it was definitely busy and I got more business done then I had expected. The panel topics and speakers were dynamic and insightful, with networking facilities second to none. As TMV just arrived in the afternoon of 12th March we did sadly miss a lot of the conferences first day proceedings.
Subsequently the only panel TMV attended on Thursday was the Promoter/Live Super session. This panel focused on an analysis of 2008 in terms of live music on a global level. It went further with discussion focused on 360 deals and the impact they have had on touring, ticket prices and the concert “experience”. Michael Bisping, Managing Director of A.S.S concerts and promotions based out of Hamburg in Germany, moderated the panel. From TMVs perspective and our previous stance on the aforementioned topics not much of controversy was stated.
Friday 13th got off to a roaring start at the Global Forum Breakfast where the main topic being discussed was Internet governance: who is responsible for what and who should pay? Before going into detail, it is important that I provide an overview of how this forum event works. To me it is the most important aspect of CMW.
The forum involves a number of keynotes and then all delegates sitting around a table with a moderator on each table and a scribe who writes down notes – all to be placed in a report with statistics of all attendees’ views on the topics of discussion. Why do TMV like this format so much? Well because every participant in the forum ends up with a written report of views broken down in usable statistics. No other conference to our knowledge undertakes such a task (especially considering there were over 200 senior executives from around the world participating).
Kicking if the keynotes was Christian Castle an IP law attorney from LA, and he presented some interesting views on how the industry needs to get over its current cumbersome and dis-jointed content licensing issues. John Kennedy CEO at industry trade body IFPI presented an impassioned plea that Canada’s government update its archaic copyright laws. At one stage John stated that in many respects Canada’s copyright laws were more out of date than those of China. A strong statement when considering, the west’s slating of China’s copyright laws and enforcement. The final keynote was provided by Serge Sasseville, from Quebec Media Inc. Serge provided a strong defense of the need for both content owners and ISPs to talk and negotiate a suitable solution to piracy of content.
Moderating my table was (insert name) who is the Chairman of the UN Copyright council for Music. Other delegates included Faron McKenzie from Represent Me, and numerous others. The debate was heated at times but near the end of the session there did seem to be some consensus that legislation is a required further step to ensure ISPs come to the table. It was also clear that not all on the table agreed. So, all in all still a very contentious issue. TMV look forward to receiving the report of all participants’ statements on the issue and will report back when we receive it. After the session I had to run up to our hotel room, which TMV converted into our makeshift broadcast studio for our live broadcast that day (to check out the broadcast click here.)
Next up, the artist development: how to know what’s about to blow panel focusing on artist development had some industry heavy weights as speakers including Walter Leaphard Jr who manages Public Enemy and Chuck D amongst others. TMV did not however hear any real solutions on how to develop artists in the changing digital environment that the industry sees itself in. One thing was clear it all comes down to the song, but then how do we develop that song talent into the artists of the future still in my mind remains unanswered.
The final panel I attended on 13th March, was the 2nd instalment of “Spotlight on China: Opportunities”. There were some great and in-depth statistics provided by panelists from live promotion companies to large online digital music operations and more. Very interesting so expect some posts on the different aspects of how Western based artists can gain traction in China over the coming months. The opportunity for grow does seem to be immense in the Chinese market.
Sadly, the mobile music on trial panel was like a graveyard. With the topic focusing on whether mobile music services are actually working, if turnout was anything to go buy mobile music propositions are a non-starter even to the industry. Yet TMV does believe low attendance at this particular panel had more to do with the Gene Simmons and Bob Lefsetz “cage fight” as it was billed going on next door. Even I wanted to attend that but could not as it was over capacity and I was turned away at the door. Subsequently, I sat through a rather entertaining panel, with too many of the panelists stating that they were role playing in their views for the panel – almost devaluing the panel topic in my view.
Happy to report that the panel I moderated on 14th March focusing on can artists afford to give away their music for free was rammed. There was some dissention between the panelists including me and also some consensus that new artists need to whatever it takes to build an audience and develop their careers? It is interesting to note that when asked the audience (95% artists in room of 150 or capacity), whether they would prefer a major label or independent label record deal. Only three hands went up in favor a major label record deal. If anything, that should be heartening news for the independent label sector in Canada and possibly further afield.
On a final note, when TMV does attend such conferences as CMW we do also attend some of the music show cases as after-all without the artists we do not have an industry. First artist of note was Hamilton based the Arkells. Their set at the Independent Music Awards displayed a down to earth demeanor with great credible pop songs with a slight rough edge. Second act TMV saw play was Montreal based Beast and gee they really blew me away. Think Annie Lennox rapping with operatic vocals and a trip-hop backing band! Beast was absolutely awesome and great to see a band pushing musical boundaries, which is all too rare these days. The final artist worthy of mention in my humble view is another Hamilton based artist called Oceanship. Think incredible “off the wall” piano playing with searing pop vocals – incredibly viable for radio…