Shrinking CMW

Rating: NNNNNMusic business bash loses major sponsor and cuts back big timeThere's a good reason why some jokers have started.

Rating: NNNNN

Music business bash loses major sponsor and cuts back big time

There’s a good reason why some jokers have started calling this weekend’s Canadian Music Week festival Weak Canadian Music.

Whether it’s the relocation of the Juno Awards or the lack of a big-budget sponsor like Molson — which pulled out this year — the annual music industry club crawl is a shell of its former self.

CMW cancelled its annual press conference launch and moved its offices out to the decidedly un-rock ‘n’ roll wilds of Mississauga, but the biggest slump is in the schedule.

The number of bands playing this week’s fest has been cut from 350 to just over 175. Most of the performers can be seen any week at Toronto clubs, while the festival has abandoned any aspiration to diversity or prescience.

There’s just one hiphop showcase and one night devoted to electronic music, Moonstarr’s Public Transit Recordings showcase, and that was organized by the artist himself.

The biggest shows of the weekend — Starsailor and Nas — carry a CMW logo but have nothing to do with the festival, and a CMW wristband won’t get you in.

It’s a massive step backwards, especially for a festival that just a few years ago was booking interesting artists like unstable folkie Daniel Johnston.

“We had a mandate from CMW president Neil Dixon to downscale the festival,” explains festival coordinator Phil Klygo of Teenage USA.

“The people from FACTOR have been asking Neil for years to reduce the number of bands so there’d be more opportunity for industry people to actually check the performances rather than be innundated with more acts than they could possibly see. And Molson Canadian decided not to be a sponsor this year. The reduced budget definitely changed our strategy.”

Although Molson had been a significant CMW sponsor from the beginning, the brewery decided its money would be better spent elsewhere.

“When it came time to renew sponsorship deals this summer,” says Molson spokesperson David Jones, “the decision was made to go with North By Northeast. NXNE is a more fan-oriented event, so from Molson’s perspective it made a little more sense to spend the marketing dollars there.”

It’s definitely a huge loss for CMW, yet Klygo sees an upside to the budget-tightening.

“There was definitely more thought involved in the programming this year. Despite the downsizing, I think the quality of bands has increased across the board.”

For all the information about the Canadian Music Week visit

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