Canadian Music Week Is About to Eat NARM’s Lunch…

If you go to music industry conferences, then you know that…

(a) there are a lot of them;

(b) they can be expensive;

(c) they frequently overlap; and

(d) they often feature similar speakers and similar-sounding topics.

So what becomes of the music industry conference space?  Probably what happens to most oversaturated, money-challenged sectors: they shrink.


Which brings us to one of the largest of the lot, Canadian Music Week (CMW), which now appears ready to eat the lunch of NARM, whose annual industry confab has recently settled in Los Angeles.  And, like many other music conferences, seems to be struggling with diminishing attendance, year over year.

Maybe this is what happens to wounded animals: instead of March, CMW is now officially moving to May 6-10 in 2014, instead of March.  Which is, right on top of where NARM was this year.

So, let the best conference win?  We’re seeing other aggressive plays like this one, including a possible jab by NAMM (the National Association of Music Manufacturers) against the ultra-expensive, audience-shedding MIDEM.  And hovering in the background is the deep, long shadow of ‘South by‘ (SXSW), which continues to grow exponentially and keeps soaking larger and larger amounts of smaller and smaller industry budgets.

Indeed, SXSW has grown so monstrously large, it seems that almost ever other music conference is being forced to adapt in some way.  That includes Canadian Music Week, which typically offers a freezing blast of Toronto air for those that make the trek from Texas (and, in fairness, draws a lot of Canadians and others on its own right).

Actually, CMW has experimented with going before and after SXSW, and apparently there’s a method to the proximity madness.  “They can use that [scheduling approach] to convince European execs to stay in North America, because they’re already here for South by,” one source relayed.

No more, and a shift towards milder May could prompt some very difficult decisions at NARM. “There’s Mother’s Day, then Memorial Day to worry about,” another source relayed.  “I’m not sure where they go.”

That is, if they go anywhere: NARM could decide to tackle CMW head-on in a bloody match of attendee and speaker sign-ups.  But wait: are all these multi-day, big-budget conferences doing it wrong, and trying to play a game better suited to 2003?  That seems to be the thinking behind a far smaller, more localized, and far scrappier approach from SF Musictech Summit’s Brian Zisk, whose one-day, well-attended shindig seem to be succeeding by packing more people and energy into a smaller event.

Maybe that’s thinking small, but it may also be thinking right.  Because SF Musictech seems to be one of the few conferences outside SXSW that’s actually winning.


Image snapped by Digital Music News at ASCAP’s recent EXPO in Los Angeles.

11 Responses

  1. WFM

    I like the good folks at NARM but Neil Dixon and his staff put a lot of work into making CMW a platform for the real and cutting edge issues plus they always have great music as proven by this year’s incredible Nick Cave show. To me, it’s the one conference, besides FMC, that is a must attend.

    • Visitor

      NARM at best is a dinosour and at worst a desperate sell-out to the snake oil salesmen of silicon valley… I can’t imagine a WORSE or more meaningless conference than NARM. I didn’t go and my office is 2 miles away.

      It was once THE serious business conference we’re deals were made and foruntes could be changed. But no more. Physical retail is not a dynamic space and NARM doesn’t really serve a purpose in the digital space.

      And if NARM is serving it’s members than why are it’s biggest (retail) members no longer attending?
      NARM could re-brand itself perhaps by tackling the issues that are actually negatively effecting the industry like Ad Sponsored Piracy, Musicians Rights and get Jim Donio out of there ASAP.

  2. insane

    Really Paul? Why don’t you do some real journalism and get both events to comment before making a music business Perez Hilton wannabe “article”. NARM serves its membership and CMW is an institution in Canada with an international focus. MUSEXPO also happened against NARM – mention that if you’re going to bother.

    • Visitor

      Yes NARM is an industry group. But if CMW tromps of NARM’s biggest pep rally then that’s a big problem. I think this article states the obvious.

  3. Obvious

    NARM should just move the dates. Pushing the event a few days back or few days forward won’t be the end of the world. CMW is a great example of that!

  4. Pete

    You don’t need any sources or anything to guess that CMW will be in May in 2014. It’s been clearly advertised on their website for the past month.
    May 6-10. How’s that for investigative journalism?

    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      As 95 South once said, ‘Whoot, There It Is!’
      In my brittle defense, this post first appeared over the weekend (Saturday). Though, I’m really not sure if it was posted on yet.

      • Pete

        Can’t argue with the Whoot There It Is defense.
        But yeah, the week it ended, all media immediately got an email saying it moved to May, and then the website was updated around April 1 I think.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Verify Your Humanity *