Canadian Music Week (CMW) will focus on new concepts and alternative revenue streams that artists and labels can pursue, event founder/
president says Neill Dixon, while speakers like Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie will discuss the possibilities of the digital marketplace. n Built upon a theme of "the rebirth of music," Dixon says the focus of this year's event will be forward-looking. n "The focus is squarely on the future and not about trying to save the past," he says. "With CD sales still sliding, the industry is looking for new ideas and alternate revenue sources to make up the shortfall."

CMW activities will take place March 5-8 in Toronto. The event, for which Rogers MusicStore is the title sponsor, includes a trade show, industry convention, a music festival featuring some 500 acts and the Canadian Music Industry Awards.
Honorees this year will include Nettwerk Music Group co-founder Terry McBride, Insight Production president/Juno Awards producer John Brunton and singer Alanis Morissette.

For CMW, staying ahead of changes in the industry is key, Dixon says, noting the conference will offer a one-day "Millennials" event aimed at providing the music industry with a better understanding of the "millennial demographic," the group born between 1978 and 2000. The event will present the industry with options on how this demographic interacts with media and the opportunities presented in marketing to a highly mobile group.

Among the key elements of the conference is the Digital Music Summit, which kicked off three years ago. This year's version includes BlackBerry maker Balsillie, who will be one of the keynote speakers, as well as Universal Music Group eLabs executive VP Rio Caraeff.

Dixon says CMW has been preaching about the potential of the digital marketplace since its first keynote on the sector in 1993. He said at the time that a speech by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology chairman Nicholas Negroponte that predicted the decline of the CD and an emerging digital marketplace was ignored by many in the Canadian music industry.

"He accurately predicted the end of the CD and its compressed digital replacement, which would change the business forever," Dixon adds. "Unfortunately many major-label and retail executives in the audience missed the message as they scoffed at 'the academic futurist that doesn't know our business.' "

"They're listening now," he says. "But it may be too late for some."
Dixon adds that while there are a lot of individuals preaching gloomy scenarios for the music industry going forward, there is an equally important group of upstarts embracing the opportunities that new and emerging technologies present.
"There's an enthusiastic new generation of Internet- and mobile-savvy DIY indies that are ready use technology to reinvent the business and create a new world order," he says.