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Billy Talent, Daniel Caeser & Osheaga Fest Win Big at Canada’s Annual Live Music Industry Awards

Daniel Caesar won New Touring Artist of the Year and rock veterans Billy Talent received the Legends of Live Award at the third annual Live Music Industry Awards, during Canadian Music Week in…

Daniel Caesar won New Touring Artist of the Year and rock veterans Billy Talent received the Legends of Live Award at the third annual Live Music Industry Awards, during Canadian Music Week in Toronto — the only artist honors at an event created to recognize companies and individuals from the live business, including festivals, teamwork, venues, agent, manager, A/V production, and music city.

The Live Music Industry Awards is just one of many in the CMW’s roster which took place last week, beginning with the Radio Music Awards, then Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards, and ending Saturday May 12 with the Indie Awards and brand new Canadian Sync Awards.  Tuesday night’s MMF Canada Honour Roll is not officially part of CMW, but kicks off the weeklong conference and festival.

Held in the Dominion Ballroom of the Sheraton Centre Toronto, The Live Music Industry Awards was presented by Canada’s most legendary venue, the El Mocambo, currently under major renovation after being purchased merchant banker and Dragons Den’s TV panelist Michael Wekerle. The late afternoon show included performances by Death Valley Girls, Starcrawler, and Billy Talent, and was hosted for the second year in a row by Canadian native Paul Shaffer.   

“The message I want to say, is that live is still alive,” Shaffer told the room of 20 company tables, and the standing room only delegates.


“The relationship between those of us who make the sound and those of us who hear the sound still survives and thrives and we are here today to celebrate that thriving relationship and the passionate, tireless people behind the stage who keep things organized so that we can go nuts on the stage. We respect them. We thank them and that’s why we’re here to award them today.”

Among the winners were:  Montreal Jazz Festival for Not-For-Profit Festival of the Year ; Field Trip for  Medium Festival of the Year; Montreal’s Osheaga Music & Arts Festival for Major Festival of the Year;  Toronto’s Massey Hall for Best Teamwork in a Soft Seat Theatre / Performing Arts Centre;  Vancouver’s Commodore Ballroom for Best Teamwork in a Major Club; Toronto’s Air Canada Centre for Best Teamwork in an Arena; Live Nation’s Denise Ross  for Concert / Club Talent Buyer of the Year; Paradigm Talent Agency’s Rob Zifarelli for Agent of the Year; Last Gang Management’s Ashley Poitevin for Manager of the Year; and Live Nation for Festival Buyer of the Year.

Billy Talent — whose members have played together for 25 years, including their previous incarnation as Pezz — were introduced by SOCAN exec Michael McCarty, who signed Billy Talent when he ran EMI Music Publishing Canada; and APA Canada head Ralph James, who has been repping the band since The Agency Group.

Frontman Ben Kowalewicz came on stage to accept the award with his long-time bandmates, guitarist Ian D’Sa, drummer Aaron Solowoniuk, and bassist Jon Gallant (all with him in Pezz), and drummer Jordan Hastings who has been playing with the Billy Talent the past few years because of Solowoniuk’s multiple sclerosis flare up.

Billy Talent, Daniel Caeser & Osheaga
Denise Ross at the Live Music Industry Awards during Canadian Music Week 2018. Grant W. Martin Photography

Kowalewicz told the room how Gallant was at sister’s house and found this Ziploc — “as every good story starts and ends in a Ziploc,” he quips, holding the baggie. The says band started in 1993, were broke, and couldn’t afford the candy dispenser Pezz, for their press kits, so they got lollipops instead.  

“CMW gave us the opportunity to play in 1996,” he continued. “I won’t bore you with our horrible bio, but the last line was ‘Pezz who have been chosen to play the Canadian Music Week festival in 1996, are continually writing songs, selling shirts and tapes and playing shows in hopes to achieve recognition on a larger scale on the Canadian music industry .’ — And here we fuckin’ are.”

He then thanked a host of people, dating back to the early days before Billy Talent signed with Warner Music Canada and became a consistent headlining arena act domestically, and capped it with these words:

“Canadian Music Week is a wonderful thing. It provides a wonderful healthy platform for bands and artists to play, but also we gotta keep in mind we are very spoiled living in this city, all the venues. As a community and music community from grassroots, we have to start nurturing and supporting and going and finding and providing these platforms for these places and venues for bands and artists to play.

“It’s really fuckin’ important because we’ve lost so many good venues from Ultrasound the 360, the Silver Dollar to Ted’ Wrecking Yard — for fuck’s sake, Ted’s Wrecking Yard is closed — we have to, together, support local music; go see a live band; go buy the t-shirt; go buy a beer and keep this industry and this music scene, which is he best in the fuckin world, alive for years to come.”

Billy Talent then played two songs, one with Solowoniuk behind the kit.

Below is the complete list of 2018 Live Music Industry Awards winners:

Small Festival of the Year – (TIE)

Interstellar Rodeo, Edmonton, AB & Ontario Festival of Small Halls, Ottawa, ON

Family Program of the Year – Calgary Stampede, Calgary, AB

Green Operations Festival of the Year – Riverfest Elora, Elora, ON

Not-For-Profit Festival of the Year – Montreal Jazz Festival, Montreal, QC

Medium Festival of the Year – Field Trip, Toronto, ON

Major Festival of the Year – Osheaga Music & Arts Festival, Montreal, QC

Best Teamwork in a Soft Seat Theatre / Performing Arts Centre – Massey Hall, Toronto, ON

Best Teamwork in a Major Club – Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC

Best Teamwork in an Arena – Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON

Best Teamwork in a Medium Club – Mod Club, Toronto, ON

Best Teamwork in a Small Club – Drake Underground, Toronto, ON

New Touring Artist of the Year – Daniel Caesar

Concert / Club Talent Buyer of the Year – Denise Ross, Live Nation

Music Canada Live Community Impact Award – Winnipeg Folk Festival, Winnipeg, MB

Licensed to Play Award – The Cameron House, Toronto, ON

Agent of the Year – Rob Zifarelli, Paradigm Talent Agency

A/V Production Company of the Year – Metalworks Production Group

Band / Music Program of the Year – Live at Massey Hall presented by TD in Partnership with SiriusXM

Production Manager of the Year – Vanessa Arscott, Plan V Productions

Road Warrior of the Year – Karen “Keeks” Weigold, July Talk

Manager of the Year – Ashley Poitevin, Last Gang Management

Festival Buyer of the Year – Live Nation

Legends of Live Award – Billy Talent

Canadian Music City of the Year – Toronto