Canadian Music Week: Where Music Comes Last

We made an honest attempt to evaluate every single artist on the CMW lineup this year,  many hours listening to the bands “selected” for participation at Canadian music week, and even skipping some bands and genres completely, we are still stuck in the Ds with no end in sight.

Some trends so far:

1) There is just no way that Canadian Music Week sat and listened honestly to all of these bands. Too much evidence of some bands who are terrible by a UNIVERSAL STANDARD.  Have you ever heard a band who applied to CMW that was NOT accepted to CMW? Give me one example and I’ll shut up about this.

Here is an example:

Met a young man from Calgary, who is in Toronto for CMW to play his “first concert.” He was really enthusiastic about his showcase at 1am at a small cafe, and provided some insight:

  • He applied to a bunch of festivals, CMW was the only one he was accepted to, and was surprised to get accepted. He took that acceptance as a sign that he was  “heading in the right direction.”
  • He spent $800 to fly here, $600 for a week of hotel, and paid to attend all the industry panels (etc) at CMW which costs $600. Feeding himself, renting a car, this kid easily spent $3000. For someone who has never played a show before, I’m sure all of this seemed absolutely worth it for the “huge opportunity” of playing at CMW (his words).
  • He was sad because he has three hours of material and CMW was only giving him 40 minutes. His music is country acoustic with rapping verses.
  • I listened to his CMW page when I got home. Guess what I would have said about him? Yeah… not good. Kid was real nice, but he is not at a place where he should be flying across country.

2. A majority of Canadian bands are stuck in 2004 and/or 1994: Hopefully that means 2014 will have something new?

  • Modern rock radio still favours 1994, and really only pay attention new bands that sound exactly like Stone Temple Pilots,  so it makes sense that there are a zillion bands that sound like Stone Temple Pilots. If you play rock-type music want radio play, you have to fit the mold or you don’t exist.
  • CBC Radio 3 / Exclaim! / Polaris / Factor (the Canadian indie music elite) favours the early 2000s and the populist indie rock of that time. Garden State (2004) and the memorable line Natalie Portman says to Zach Braff “You gotta hear this one song — it’ll change your life” and then plays the fucking SHINS for him. Apparently that was an incredibly powerful moment because the Canadian indie music elite are still trying to change our lives with a million bands that sound exactly like the fucking SHINS. 


Sadly, Canadian Music Week doesn’t care about any of this. They can accept every band because the music doesn’t matter in the least.

The real winners of CMW

!) Sponsors: look at this list. There are more sponsors than bands! Bands who get accepted don’t get paid, they get writsbands. The sponsors are paying money that goes right to CMW.

2) Bars and Beer Companies: All these shows are happening at bars that sell beer. The bars sell beer to get paid off the CMW enterprise. The bands still don’t get paid.

3) P.R. Hacks: My personal number one enemy. The biggest problem in the modern music system is that P.R. hacks. 1000 bands are playing CMW, making it impossible for anyone to get a handle on what to check out. This is where the CMW guides and posts on “best things to see at CMW this week!” almost universally are bands with P.R. machinery behind them. It’s the only way.

4) CMW itself: A perpetual motion machine!

The losers:

Lower-tier Musicians: Traveling from all over Canada to play to empty rooms. MUSICIAN TIP: don’t travel to any festival that is not paying to bring you there. There is two quotes that apply here: “I play the show for free, they pay me to travel” and “Exposure? People die from exposure.”

Music fans: the sheer number of bands – good and bad – seems like it will benefit music fans. But people suffer from an abundance of choice. It isn’t healthy or natural to have to pick through 1000 bands.

Music: What is the sound of 1000 guitars playing at the same time? Noise that nobody wants to listen to.


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