(L-R): Jonas Woost, Executive Producer,CBC Radio 3, and Director of Programming, transmitNOW, Scott Bagby, VP, Strategic & International Partnerships, Rdio, and Rachel Noonan, Marketing & PR, Rdio pose at the Rdio function. (Photo: Sue Holland)
It was more like Knights of the Square Table at Gabardine restaurant in downtown Toronto on March 21, when digital music subscription service Rdio hosted a meeting of minds with various sectors from the music and tech world. The idea was to talk about the digital landscape in general, in Canada, where it is now and where it is heading.
Scott Bagby, VP, strategic & international partnerships at Rdio, told Billboard during the cocktail hour of the evening that he was hoping the discussion and subsequent publication of the topics broached would help shed light on streaming services for the user or potential user.
Chris Wiltsee, Director of Business Development, RootMusic (left) and Nav Alang, Toronto Standard at the dinner. (Photo: Sue Holland)
"We're all in the industry so we get it," he says. "It's not all new but as a whole, the majority of people don't know what streaming services are or the benefits of it or how to use it so what I'm looking for more than anything else, and at least for the rest of the year, is how do people come to know about streaming services and the benefit of streaming services in general."
Chris Wiltsee, director of business development at RootMusic, told Billboard even before the roundtable began, "We've been having a really interesting conversation already in the room - just a lot of really interesting people with a lot of deep experience in music, from a lot of different sides.
"I talked to a couple of guys from the CBC [artist/radio host Rich Terfry, a.k.a. Buck 65 and event host Jonas Woost] and, for me, learning a little bit more about the Canadian music industry, which is quite a bit different in the sense that the State might get involved and fund things which we don't see as much of in the U.S.
(L-R): Chris Wiltsee, Director of Business Development, RootMusic, Victoria Shepherd, Executive Director, AVLA, Scott Bagby, VP, Strategic & International Partnerships, Rdio at the Rdio-hosted dinner. (Photo: Sue Holland)
"One of the things I'll be excited to talk about is some of the new features that we've got coming out. At South By Southwest, we did a major press release where we announced half a million bands on BandPage as well as some other exciting numbers. We ran our database of bands against the Sound Exchange and we came up with $2.5 million in uncollected royalties. So we're in the process of helping distribute those. And then a number of features that connect to the new Facebook timeline innovations."
Billboard sat out the dinner discussion (as did Rdio publicist Marisa Marzano of Sparkpr], but was there as the pow-wow got underway, moderated by Woost, executive producer at CBC Radio 3, and director of programming for music industry think-tank conference transmitNOW. In addition to Rdio's Bagby and RootMusic's Wiltsee, active partipants included musician Buck 65; Rachel Noonan, marketing and PR at Rdio; influential blogger Casie Stewart ( Casie Stewart: This is My Life); freelance writer Lonny Knapp; tech editor Russ Martin of Canada.com and tech writer Nav Alang of the Toronto Standard. Tweeting during the conversation was encouraged from the get-go, said Woost.
"The loose theme for tonight is digital music services in Canada or maybe the digital music landscape in Canada," Woost said at the outset. "That's what we want to discuss tonight. There's various stakeholders involved; there are some sitting at the table - labels, publishers, artists and digital and the media. Before we talk in detail about what's right and wrong in Canada, what's working and isn't working, and your experiences, I want to be bold and say that it all doesn't really matter as long as we can make sure that we can connect music fans with musicians…the rest of us are just middlemen."