Canadian Music Week – the musician’s POV

Recently Canadian Music Week tornado’ed itself through Toronto. For music fans that means that your favourite bands are going to descend upon the city to grace you with their amazing tunes. You may also discover some new faves among the endless number of showcases you could attend at any given venue on any given night.

For a musician, CMW is a beast of a different color. I witnessed band after band tirelessly repping their showcase, desperately hoping for a person of importance to attend their show. CMW brings together so many heads of the music industry and gives every Joe Schmoe in a band access to those individuals. It’s a veritable feeding frenzy of musicians hoping to get a crumb of attention. Beyond working to get people out to your showcase, there is the conference; three days of panels and exhibitors and the mentors’ café (where Joe Schmoe can sit down and have the undivided attention of industry professionals for 15 minutes). It can be completely overwhelming, and when you see how many bands there are trying to “make it”, and how hungry they all are, it can be a little depressing.

How can you as an up-and-coming musician make the most out of your CMW experience? Here are a few tips:

  1. Know what you need: what level is your band at? Are you ready for label or agent representation, or do you just need a little guidance to get to that level? Determine what it is you want out of people coming to your showcase. Don’t ask the biggest label in Canada to attend your showcase if you’re still in the baby band phase, but DO know who you want to talk to in order to learn what you need to know to get to the next steps.
  2. Study up: Find out who is attending the conference, look them up, know what they do. If you talk to someone from a major PR firm and you sit down with them to ask about PR but have NO idea who they are, it could be a little insulting and make you look sloppy.
  3. Promote your showcase: print up handbills and don’t be afraid to distribute them around the conference (if your showcase is during or after the conference portion). Although it may or may not result in attendance, people seeing your name over and over is always good.
  4. Don’t underestimate the real resource – other bands! Networking isn’t just for industry types. Making friends with cool bands who may have insider info can be a goldmine. Discover new bands, support other musicians by attending their showcases, and make plans for show trades. This ultimately will result in more concrete results right away than crossing your fingers that Agency group will notice you (believe me, if you had what they wanted, they’d already know about you!)


These tips can help guide you through the confusing and traumatic world of what it is to be a small-time musician at CMW or any other music festival our city or another has to offer. And above all, work hard and have fun!

Dusty Exner

Dusty Exner

contributor at Addicted
Dusty Exner is the frontperson of the sweatiest and sexiest punk'n'roll band in Canada, Kill Matilda. When she's not watching Star Trek, playing nintendo or eating perogies, she's a writer, feminist, nerd, ADHD kid and anthropologist.
Dusty Exner
Dusty Exner
Dusty Exner

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