Recently I had the chance to attend both SXSW in Austin Texas, and Canadian Music Week (CMW) in Toronto Canada. I've had fun at both but I think for many bands CMW could be a better choice. Why? Check out the reasons below:
5. Your pass will get you into the panels and the shows.
If you've ever waited in a huge line to get into a SXSW showcase (with a badge) you know how aggravating it can get. What's worse is when you can't even get into the panels in the Austin convention centre. A great reason to come to CMW is that there is adequate seating for all delegates at the panels. No waiting, no additional streaming rooms. You pay for your pass you get access to it all. It's that simple.
4. No daytime shows to pull you away from panels.
Keeping your focus at SXSW can get difficult. There are so many unofficial daytime showcases that even if you do get a pass and go to the panels, music lovers will feel pained by choosing between learning at panels and rocking out with sweet music. At CMW there are no huge bands playing daytime showcases surrounded by free beer. This allows you to focus on what you came to do: Network, connect, and learn.
3. Huge industry players are here.
There are a ton of huge industry players at CMW. Pretty much every big mover and shaker from LiveNation is here, a ton of festival directors from around the world, music supervisors, bloggers, agents, managers, tech folks and of course Bob Lefsetz. Plus they're all accessible, you can connect, talk and get to know any one of the speakers that you wish. At SXSW there is such a glut of people who are waiting for the speakers time that the queue to talk to them requires a bathroom break. Not so at CMW.
2. Not as much noise.
Many bands get lost in the noise of 6th street at SXSW. At CMW there is a smaller number of acts, a smaller number of clubs, and a much greater chance in being heard. The noise of the music industry is reasonable at CMW. You can actually get industry folk to come to see you because they haven't been handed hundreds of cards, albums, tshirts, etc. Canadian Music Week is doable for bands. But that doesn't mean that you don't need to hustle to get people to come out to your show. It just becomes realistic.
Which brings us to the number one reason to go to CMW instead of SXSW.
1. The size of the conference is fathomable.
Each year SXSW grows bigger and bigger. Although CMW 2013 is the biggest it's ever been, the conference is still "Canadian" if I can use that term. The conference happens in one hotel with only smaller more niche topics happening around the corner. SXSW requirers pedicabs or at least some good walking shoes to make it to every panel you want to go to. For many bands they can connect, learn, and advance their careers all within 2 square blocks at CMW. Something that's unheard of at SXSW these days. CMW is a conference that will give you bang for your buck and it's not limited to Canadians. A global contingent of players helps make CMW a global conference and it's worth a try for any band looking to take their game to the next level.
Obviously SXSW is a great experience but if you're going there to break out you might be sorely disappointed. Canadian Music Week might be in a colder climate but it has a lot to offer musicians in all genres and at all levels. So next year take a closer look at this valuable conference in Toronto Canada and consider coming to make some solid connections.