Friday, January 5, 2007

4 Days of Talk, Rock and Running around the Block

POP Montreal/Future Of Music Summit
Mtl,QC. - This past week (thur.Oct.5th - sun.Oct.8th) I volunteered for the future of music summit, being held in Montreal for the first time (previously staged in Washington for 5 years). It landed me a free pass to sit in on all the panels and a ticket to POP Montreal.

The future of music summit is basically a bunch of debates and discussions featuring industry: musicians (ex. David Byrne of `Talking Heads`), Advisers (ex. Bertis Downs with band R.E.M.) label owners, managers, company CEO`s (ex. founder of Pitchfork Media), lawyers, and apparently amateur basketball players (according to Win Butler of `Arcade Fire`). These hour-long sessions were thrown together over the course of four days on different subjects concerning: how the industry is run, how to make it independently, the technology taking over, the state of the music industry today, where the industry is headed, etc.

Some of the highlights/quotes:

- 70% of CD sales now come from Big-Box stores (Walmart, Best Buy) who offer Biggest Loser prices, hence they take a loss on CD sales in the hope that while in the store, you will also buy an over-priced toaster to accompany the CD purchase.

- Why is "selling out" overlooked anymore?...its become the norm because all bands are selling less music, therefore looking for more alternative revenue streams, so more musicians licencing their music...ALSO businesses have more money to spend on music than consumers do!

"problem in the industry is...people who know a little are taking advantage of people who know less than a little."

"Now the power is back in the hands of the artists, so the labels are turning their perspective from `i`m a label, i own you; too, i`m a label, i`m gonna do my job`"

25% of artists make money touring...25%!!!

while musicians attempt to cross the US/Canada border for touring ....some U.S. customs officers have really exploited their jobs and made visitors feel artist was actually asked to prove he was a musician and pick up his guitar and perform for the officer.

musician `bernadette houde`said her band name "lesbians on ecstasy" is prohibited in Quebec, so when they perform in Quebec they have to go by "lesbians in ecstasy"

regarding radio..."there is a thing, or a sound you need to go for to get on radio. But no one knows who created this need or sound, but for some reason almost everyone goes for it, because you do have to have it to get on" - win butler

and the Quote of the Summit: (by Win Butler of `Arcade Fire`commenting on how album reviews, such as in Pitchfork have little merit, but can be damaging)..."sometimes you go to a restaurant, have a sandwich and you walk out thinking `yeah that was good`. But when you go to MacDonald's, you see this picture and it looks great, but when you actually get it, it looks nothing like the picture, its like they didn`t put any care into it (referring to journalist not artist), its crap.....who cares to read about music, you`d rather hear it, reading brings baggage and expectations that usually disappoint, just come see the show".

During the nights of these four days I was running all over the city to see performances for POP Montreal from many acts I`d never even heard of. On thursday night, I managed to catch 4 artists/bands in 3 different venues. Of the acts I did catch over the weekend, highlights included `the peasant`(ala elliott smith), `a northern chorus` (ala sigur ros), `beaver`(very original acoustic guitar style and vocals floating from a whisper to shouting), `space team electra`(although her band couldn`t make it, so she did the solo thing, but told me her bands sound is nothing similar), `the acorn` (from ottawa, ala joel plaskett voice) and managed to only walk-in and catch one song by `Cuff the Duke`, luckily it was the only song I thoroughly enjoy by them "it`ll be alright, it`ll be alright, everything will be okay"(chorus). Disappointments for the hype I did hear... `The Islands` (former members of `The Unicorns`), `Lesbians on Ecstasy`(elementary electronic music, sadly the name carries this band). And sadly,... I missed the most talked about band "Tapes N Tapes", heard it was sold out, meaning POP Montreal pass was useless for getting in. Not only did this event provide the opportunity to catch a lot of up and coming talent, but also I was quickly introduced to 7 different music venues in the city.

Alright I got to go, POP Montreal might be over, but the `New Pornographers` are in town.

"opinions are like assholes, everyone has one" - blurted by Torquil Campbell (musician for `the stars`) during `young musicians`panel.

written October 9th, 2006

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