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CM @ CMW 2013 – Part 1

Thursday, April 4th, 2013

CMW 2013 by Rick De Vries

As he is every year, Canadian Musician‘s Kevin Young was out and about during Canadian Music Week to take in both the conference component as well as a number of showcasing artists. Without further ado…

I know. The dust has long settled from Canadian Music Week 2013. This is, admittedly, a post I normally try to crank out within a day or two of the end of the festival. That said, what I took from CMW this year is something I believe is applicable long-term.

Each year, CMW’s organizers take care to try to reflect the changes and shifts in the industry by providing a variety of panels and speakers suited to speak to what those changes are and how they affect everyone working in the industry. CMW 2013 was no different in that respect, but one of the things that struck me during this year’s conference had nothing to do with new technology, social media, or how the industry has changed. It was what hasn’t changed – the fact that great songs and inspired performances live and, on record, remain the most important grass roots marketing tool for any artist.

I was also reminded of the benefits an outside ear or, in live music producer Tom Jackson’s case, an extra set of eyes, can provide when it comes to capturing those performance on record and putting on the kind of show that’s undeniably good.

It always helps to have someone you can rely on, whose opinion you trust and who is willing be blunt and honest with you when providing perspective on your songs, show, and recordings. It could be your manager, someone in the industry with good ears, eyes, and the knowledge base and experience to back up their opinions – a producer, sound engineer – or really anyone. It could be a friend of yours. It could be the collective voice of your listeners and fans, or all of the above.

Bob Ezrin

You won’t always agree and they won’t always be right – but neither will you. There’s no magic formula, no silver bullet and no guarantee that their advice will help, but the more you’re aware of what you might be able to do pull off great performances, the more you’re thinking of how to do so, the better the chances are that you will.

How important that is hit home while I was listening to Canadian producer, Bob Ezrin talk about his career. Over time, Ezrin’s produced some truly classic records; Berlin by Lou Reed, Kiss’ Destroyer, and Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies to name a few. When he was interviewed at CMW on Saturday, March 23rd, he shared some of his stories about the bands and artists he’s worked with. The one that really stuck with me was a story he told about working on The Wall with Pink Floyd.

I’m paraphrasing, but essentially the story goes as follows: Ezrin believed “Brick in the Wall Part II” had substantial potential as a single. The band, however, was resistant, owing in part to the fact that Ezrin suggested a disco beat for the track. During his interview at CMW, Ezrin stated he’d asked if the band would be willing to write a second verse and chorus. The answer was no. The solution? The clandestine recording of the children’s vocals anyone familiar with The Wall will remember. For a more in depth version of the story, CLICK HERE.

Ultimately, the song in its finished state pleased the band and went on to become a huge hit. How huge? The above link will fill you in…

Right, you’re not Pink Floyd. The recording industry and the technology deployed in the making of records have changed dramatically. The music industry is a completely different animal than it was 5 or 10 years ago, and certainly has changed completely since The Wall was released in the 1980s.

The tools and techniques used for live performances have evolved as well, but what sets a good show apart from a mediocre one haven’t. More on CMW 2013, including Tom Jackson’s Extreme Performance Makeover session, tomorrow…

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