The Canadian Music Café, a concert series designed to showcase top Canadian musical talent and coincide with the Toronto International Film Festival, kicked off yesterday.

The showcase, which is tagged as "where film meets music," has afternoon appearances by 15 artists at a notable downtown Toronto club. The series, which includes performances by the likes of Nettwork Records' Great Lake Swimmers and alt-country singer Justin Rutledge, who records for Six Shooter Records, ends on Thursday.

The film festival, the largest such event in the world open to the public, draws executives, actors, directors and producers from around the world to Toronto each September. The concept behind the music café series was to highlight Canadian acts and songwriters to influential individuals within the television and film industries.

Catharine Saxberg, executive director of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA), said the event has linked several artists with licensing deals in film and television since it started in 2005.

"It is really rare for artists to be able to showcase directly to people who can make such a profound difference in their careers," Saxberg says. "The beauty of the Canadian Music Café is that it actually works."

Saxberg says several licensing deals were inked at the showcase last year, but most take a few months to develop.

The showcase, which is supported by the Canadian Recording Industry Association, the CMPA and Canadian Independent Record Production Association (CIRPA), is part of a larger initiative being undertaken by music publishers and Canadian independent record companies designed to promote emerging talent to foreign markets. Recently the), which includes labels like Nettwerk, Arts & Crafts Records, Maple Music and numerous others, announced a trade mission aimed at promoting Canadian indie music to Japan.

Duncan McKie, president of CIRPA, says the success of the Canadian music industry will come as a result of the success of events like the Canadian Music Café.

"The success of the Canadian music industry depends on its ability to export the products of its abundant talent outside of Canada. Nothing speaks to this more than the recent success of Canadian musical artists in North America and in other offshore markets," McKie says.