Eurythmics guitarist Dave Stewart used his keynote address on the second day of Canadian Music Week to paint an audacious and occasionally confusing picture of the music business going forward.
His presentation, which involved heavy use of visual clips, presented a view in which bands use local companies to sponsor albums and tours, and sponsors have their own “sponsors’ awards.”
“The reason [bands] should be thinking like this is there are 57-million bands on MySpace and not one of them has broken,” he told a few hundred observers.
While Stewart’s presentation was often fascinating, the musician occasionally failed to connect the dots on his high-level ideas. He brought up computerized systems that process credit card transactions, while also using the time to discuss the careers of five female artists (all largely unknown) that he is currently working with, including Toronto singer Cindy Gomez.
The guitarist, who holds the title of “chief change agent” at telecom giant Nokia, talked about creating storylines for his new acts, a concept that links corporate deals with movies and television productions. With Gomez, Stewart worked with Nokia to have the attractive singer appear as an avatar in a video game on the company’s phones. He also showed a clip of a short film about a person who becomes a fan of Gomez after first hearing her work on a lost Nokia phone.
“You can see why I’m building Cindy’s world now – as all artists should,” he said before asking Gomez up to sing a song as he accompanied her on acoustic guitar.
When questioned about whether a band would lose credibility by following Stewart’s sponsorship ideas, he responded by saying it would be better to work with ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s than with the combined Sony BMG. The latter joint venture ended in 2008, with Sony's purchase of Bertelsmann's stake in the music giant.
“[BMG] started by forcing Jews in concentration camps to write Nazi literature,” he told a slightly befuddled audience. “Do you want to be signed to BMG or to Ben & Jerry’s?”
Stewart concluded his presentation by showing a vibrator he claims to be selling that had diamond studs and sold for $2,000. The guitarist told the audience he owns four stores that sell erotic paraphernalia that have been frequented by the likes of actress Angelina Jolie.