From Edmonton With More Love

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Day two of the WCMAs included a couple of panels, four showcases, and a very disconcerting visit with large spiders.

First up: a panel on publicity and media, moderated by publicist Aimee Hill of All Access Entertainment and featuring Kyle Kraft (Battle Axe Records), Fawnda Mithrush (SEE Magazine), and Peter North (CKUA). The packed room got the basics of publicity and some solid details on what to do and what not to do when you're trying to get your band noticed. They had a lot to say about how the interweb has killed the traditional hype machine and that you shouldn't bother with publcity until your presentation (live show, recordings, press kit) are ready and you've practiced your interview skills (you practice your music, why wouldn't you practice your presentation?). Hill also pointed to Feist, who people tend to think of as an overnight success but who's actually been at this for at least 15 years (Monarch, anyone?). Fair enough. The panel didn't touch on online publicity or blogs at all, unfortunately.

Next up: a panel on international touring, moderated by Trade Routes' Nicki Dewar and featuring Kat Morris of Glastonbury Festival and The Great Escape, Perpetrators manager Heather Shaw, South by Southwest's Brad First, and Live Tour Artists' Dana Kirby. Plenty of people crammed into the room for this panel; clear indication that it's international market development that's driving careers right now and artists know it. The hour-long workshop touched on a lot of things, perhaps most interestingly the importance of showcasing at  --  even just attending music industry conference -- and how they can lead to great things overseas. Given the relative difficulties artists are experiencing south of the border, the info about heading to Europe was incredibly valuable, particularly from the very engaging and smart Shaw.

The panels themselves are a great reminder of the value of conferences like the WCMAs. Where else are you going to hear from some of these panelists, slip them your CD, and maybe pick their brains for a bit? That knowledge is what can set a band apart. And getting those industry folks to your showcase? Even better. These things are set up to lead to real business if you know how to capitalize on the opportunities in front of you. The workshops that our office put on throughout the year are there for the same reason. There are a lot of great bands out there... arm yourselves!

Albert Music put on a great reception and the stunning Albert Royal Museum, which houses the creepily fascinating Bug Room. This room is filled with live bigs. Exotic, horrifying bugs. And a lot of spiders. Including the world's largest spider, which can be the size of a dinner plate. Which was horrifying. Just sitting there, waiting. *Shudder* There was also a room filled with stuffed birds, including a lot of owls that has those eyes that follow you. And then more spiders. And weird beetles that looked like walking blueberries.

J.P. Hoe put on fantastic show to a busy room at On the Rocks, playing acoustic with guitarist Rob Pachol (who was sadly without impressive moustache). The always-outstanding Tele played to a capacity room at the same venue. Headed next to The Pawn Shop for The Telepathic Butterflies, who were in fine form. Manitoba Film & Music's Carole Vivier and Barbara Sedun whisked me off to catch the last bit of Boats' energetic show at Halo to close out the night. At all showcases, you could see tons of Edmonton's music fans but also some of those influential delegates and panelists. Nice.

More panels tomorrow. More showcases. And the industry awards. Wheee!

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