In preparation for Canadian Music Week, which takes place March 19-24 in Toronto, CMW president Neill Dixon traveled to Korea, Japan and the Nordic region to make connections in the countries selected for this year's international buyers program at the conference. Last year, the spotlight was on Latin America, with a secondary focus on Spain and Portugal.
"Every year, CMW becomes more and more international," Dixon says. "We went to all of the countries this year. We identified all the key players, met with everybody--and even met PSY."
Before heading to Korea, for example, Dixon turned to the Korean Consulate in Toronto and the Canadian Consulate in Seoul for names of the bigger music companies. Then DFSB Kollective president Bernie Cho, a close business contact of Dixon, helped set up meetings.
"When I went over there, he took me around and personally introduced me to all the major business contacts and acted as interpreter," Dixon says. "I met with [the Korea Creative Content Agency]-their cultural export agency-to help arrange for their bands to come here, and in return they're making arrangements for Canadian bands to go to an event called MU:CON [in Seoul] in October. We're trying to make it as reciprocal as possible."
CMW has been doing such exchanges as this for a number of years, made possible with funding assistance from Canadian government agencies.
The payoff for Canadian artists, in terms of bookings for festivals and tours, international record releases and licensing deals, "far exceeds the investment" by the government, says Dixon, who calls the supportive policy "visionary, because it's definitely helping. Once [international partners] get introduced, they hopefully go on doing business with Canadians. That's the long-term goal: to develop business relationships that last."
Now in its 31st year, CMW has about 300 speakers for the 2013 Music Summit and another 100 or so for its other components: the Digital Media Summit, Canada's social media and interactive marketing conference (March 19-20), and the four-day Radio Interactive, an international radio summit (March 20-24).
The Music Summit is divided into three distinct parts this year: the Social Music Summit (March 21), Live Touring Summit (March 22) and Songwriters and Publishers Summit (March 23).
"[This way] people can attend one day if the topic is of interest to them," Dixon says. "It's just a little easier to navigate."
The two-day Digital Media Summit that precedes the Music Summit offers broader topics and speakers that target a wider selection of industries beyond music. "We recommend the music people take it," Dixon says. "We've got some of the biggest corporations in the world giving their case studies on how to use social media to communicate with customers. So they can learn a lot from that."
This year's keynote speakers and celebrity interviews include Live Nation chairman/CEO of global music/global touring Arthur Fogel; record producer Bob Ezrin, writer/producer Andrew Loog Oldham; self-described "filmmaker, futurist and epiphany addict" Jason Silva; record producer Steve Lillywhite; concert promoter Michael Cohl; Invisible Records/Tour Smart's Martin Atkins; rock band Metric; and Heart's Anne and Nancy Wilson.
There's also a trade show and various awards shows, including the Music & Broadcasting Industry Awards gala dinner, the Canadian Radio Music Awards, the Crystal Awards for radio creative and the Independent Music Awards (aka the Indies). All events take place at the Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel.
Meanwhile, for the Canadian Music Fest, some 1,000 bands/artists from more than 40 countries will be playing showcases at 60 venues.