Awards, Albums and Toronto Honors at Canadian Music Week

toronto mayer John Tory
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Toronto Mayer John Tory photographed in 2014.

Global Forum: International Networking Breakfast

Canadian Music Week president Neill Dixon has implemented the International Festival City of the Year award at the music annual conference. He presented it to Toronto Mayor John Tory -- who replaced Rob Ford last year -- after his opening remarks at Friday's Global Forum: International Networking Breakfast.

"I am pleased to be here today to present an inaugural award that is created as a way for the global festival industry to recognize positive local environments for festivals and events worldwide," said Dixon in his presentation. "Through this special award, Canadian Music Week is pleased to recognize Toronto for its consorted efforts to provide an environment that allows for successful and environmentally conducive events."

Tory, who traveled to SXSW earlier this year as part of the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance to help strengthen and grow Toronto's global position, offered congratulations to CMW for its long history and continuous efforts to raise the profile of Canadian music. "Toronto might be the single most diverse city in the world," Tory said. "Music is the universal language; what better way to bring all of those people together."

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Manager's Panel

During the simply titled manager's panel at Canadian Music Week in Toronto Friday afternoon, Nettwerk Music Group CEO and co-founder Terry McBride was adamant about the fate of the album as we know it, and later told a story about a very personal focus group of sorts that backs up his statement that it's "not a bunch of hipsters" buying vinyl.

"Albums are over," he said categorically to the artists in the room.

"It's not about the playlist. It's about your emotions. It's about expressing who and what you are. So all of the effort you put into making an album, when it becomes public, that's gone. It's gone. So I think you need to realize that. You also need to realize who is buying physical product. Who's buying the vinyl? It's not the 25-year-old hipster. It's the teenager buyer, buying it because of an influencer on YouTube, not buying it because it because they want to have vinyl. They re buying it for completely different reasons.

"You need to understand who your consumer is. It used to be that you would make cassette tapes and you'd share those. It was an expression of who you were; now it's playlists and you share those. So it's about songs; it's about emotions. Albums were created by lawyers. And if an artist really thought about that, they would run away from the album concept as quickly as they possibly could. Because that's not the music business; the business of music -- two different things."

Later, he does say, "There is nothing wrong with having a physical product …But that should not be the reason to tour and not be a reason to stop the creative process."

But back to the vinyl records buyer.

"Here's a great story," McBride offered. "I have a 13-year-old daughter. She asked me for a turntable for Christmas. 13 years old. She wanted me to buy it from Urban Outfitters. She wanted it because a certain YouTube influencer uses a certain turntable and puts on music before she does her makeup show. That one influencer probably causes the sale of about 100,000 turntables this Christmas and she has no issue taking her whole month's allowance and buying one piece of vinyl. No issue at all. You need to understand where these things come from and where to go with it. I think it's the perception of the music business that it's a bunch of hipsters buying it. It's not."

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Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards 

At the tail end of her acceptance speech at the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards for the Rosalie Trombley Award, celebrating women trailblazers in radio, i.t. Media Broadcasting CEO Shushma Datt of Spice Radio 1200 AM in Burnaby, British Columbia, tacked on this plea to the roomful of 800 music industry heavyweights:

"We women of ethnic background are aware of and are used to the double-standards that exists, first of all, in our own communities, second in the workplace, third in politics and above all, in our own industry. I have been engaged in a 22-year battle with the cross-border stations which have stunted my station's growth. Nobody is there to find them, stop them and protect us. We are a Canadian entity. Well, my time is up. I wanted to talk to eminent people in this room. Maybe some of you would be able to help me?"

Former Corus CEO John Cassaday also seized the opportunity at the end of his Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame induction speech to impart some words of wisdom: "So here is my very brief prescription for radio: number one, keep it local. Our industry is stronger in Canada today than it is in the United States and a big contributor to that success is our local relevance. Develop your local talent. Keep it focused on local topics," he said to claps. "Second, resist the urge to over-commercialize. Another reason Canadian radio has outperformed our counterparts in the United States is less clutter. Charge less for your inventory; don't increase your inventory," again to claps.

He continued, "At Corus, we paid the price in certain markets, where we let this get away from us and please learn from our experience. The third thing I'd like to recommend is that we support regulatory change regarding the ownership of more than two FMs in a market."

"Radio is radio. The AM/FM band distinction is irrelevant to listeners," he said. "Today's consumers want content to be platform agnostic. To change this rule, the CRTC will need to hear a consensus emerge from our industry. When we sold our radio stations recently in Quebec City, we had the last remaining AM in the market. Whether it's low power or second adjacencies migrating our AMs to FMs, or even better, shifting the entire industry to high-definition, is critical to radio's long-term survival. I also recommend that we support the unblocking of the radio chip in smartphones to ensure that radio continues to be ubiquitous.

"Finally, my friend and long-time broadcaster Ron Bremner talks about the importance of giving back -- many of you in this room started out in small town radio stations and while you will not all be welcome back, some for good reason, don't forget where you came from: mentor, send emails, and encourage. In other words, be interested and keep the pipeline strong."


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