Canadian Musician


Canadian Musician Does Canadian Music Week 2016

Monday, May 16th, 2016

Panel 1 (1)

As good as the conference and festival programming was at CMW 2016, one of the key benefits of events like it has little to do with said programming. I was reminded of that during this year’s edition.

Typically, there’s so much to take in – panels, showcases, award shows, and so on – that one of the most important aspects of CMW, the hang, while not forgotten, doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

I saw some great bands and educational panels, and these are a big part of what’s on offer at this particular event. The education sessions in particular have some big industry influencers taking on some timely and important topics. But I was reminded that what makes an event like this so valuable goes well beyond what’s programmed.

Gordon Lightfoot (right) at the El Mocambo exhibit

Gordon Lightfoot (right) at the El Mocambo exhibit

Owing to an overenthusiastic bout of, um, networking, over an overabundance of wine, I found myself out of play earlier than I’d hoped and wasn’t able to see as many bands with the rabid enthusiasm I normally have on Friday night. What I did see reminds me just how impressive a range CMW has grown to encompass. The simultaneous running with Hot Docs and the music/music industry-related films on offer doesn’t hurt either.

Let’s face it. A lot of folks don’t or can’t attend the shows or conference. That doesn’t mean they’re not there. They’re just not downstairs at the Sheraton or in the clubs. They’re in the lobby and the bar, often doing the same thing that artists playing gigs during CMW are doing: reminding their peers that they’re here and hungry to keep making/releasing/promoting music.

Tom Jackson signing books at the booth

Tom Jackson signing books at the booth

Bottom line is that you never know who you’ll run into. Networking outside of the confines of the areas restricted by passes and wristbands costs nothing. (Okay, it might cost you a couple of overpriced beers, but beyond that, nada.)

And all that glad-handing, chatting up and meeting/greeting, that’s key – particularly for artists playing CMW.

HomeRec Draw (1)

No contact is a bad contact to make and, sometimes, particularly if you’ve been at the music thing for a while, sharing war stories with old and new friends and acquaintances can be inspiring. Virtually everyone in our industry – artists, industry professionals of every persuasion and, really, anyone you find hanging out during CMW – is there because they love music.

Regardless of their motivation, they’ve all put tremendous effort into carving out a living, a place, or identity in our industry. And some of them, honestly, have gotten a thorough shit kicking – either professionally or emotionally – doing so.

Chersea lands a record deal with eOne Music in the Mentor's Cafe

Chersea (right) lands a record deal with eOne Music in the Mentor’s Cafe

I could get into some of the people who I was introduced to or re-acquainted with during CMW 2016, but the specifics aren’t important. It’s enough to say that I heard and shared war stories, opinions, and points of view on the state and fate of the industry with some of the folks who, graciously, have been responsible for my ability to maintain a career as an artist, performer, and freelance writer for 20-plus years.

Without them, I wouldn’t have an opportunity to write this, to share this – for what it’s worth – with whoever may be reading this.

Panel 3 (1)

Maintaining a career in the music industry isn’t easy. Regardless of how you got in, you’re going to have to wear multiple hats to stay in – unless, you know, you’re The Rolling Stones. Anyone and everyone you meet and learn from can play a part in your evolution as an artist, as an artist transitioning to a new gig, or as a, well, whatever you choose to make your passion going forward.

So advice? Beyond “say your name, say your name, say your name” during your showcase (CMW is pretty good about keeping shows running on time, but changes are made to lineups and set times change for multiple reasons, so telling people who you are never hurts), it’s to cruise the lobby and make yourself known.

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