A Triumphant Year for Manitoba Music Industry

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As the year draws to a close and everyone gets ready to ring in 2012, Manitoba Music has taken a moment to look back. The last 12 months have added up to a fantastic and busy year for our association, our members, and the local music community.

Over 3000 people in Manitoba earn income working in music. They also earned accolades: In 2011, Manitoba artists landed an impressive 133 award nominations and 40 wins, including 50 nods and 20 wins for Aboriginal recording artists. One of the biggest awards stories in 2011 was Manitoba’s music companies pulling off a near sweep of the Western Canadian Music Awards’ industry honours, winning eight of nine possible awards. The triumph was a testament to Manitoba’s industry innovation, export market development, and entrepreneurship.

Plenty of Manitoba acts spent a good portion of 2011 on the road, hitting career-building showcase events as far away as Greece, Australia, Germany, and France. Throughout the year, 74 different Manitoba acts expanded their markets and connected with key industry players by performing 125 showcases at 37 different events around the world.

Another testament to the vibrancy of the province’s musical communities, Manitoba acts released 152 recordings in the past year, of which over 20 have national distribution.

In a year rife with activity, some of this year’s biggest stories came from relative newcomers who, alongside established acts, garnered high profile song placements in film and television, lauds from critics, spots on radio and sales charts, and more. Here are just a few of the highlights...

Soul/pop duo Imaginary Cities signed with Canadian indie label Hidden Pony Records, landed an opening spot on legendary band Pixies’ entire North American tour, performed at seven showcases, won a Western Canadian Music Award, was long listed for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize, and kept busy on the road in Canada, the U.S., and Europe in support of its debut album, Temporary Resident.

After releasing his sophomore effort, Love Songs for the Last Twenty, singer/songwriter and road warrior Del Barber snagged a Juno Award nod for Roots Traditional Album of the Year, signed a deal with Paquin Entertainment for management and booking, won two Western Canadian Music Awards, all while spending much of the year touring.

Pop duo Ash Koley, which features Winnipeg-based songwriter/producer Phil Deschambault and Winnipeg-born singer and namesake Ash Koley, released its debut album Inventions on Sony/Nettwerk, and promptly landed on the charts, winning a Canadian Radio Music Award for hit single “Don’t Let Your Feet Touch Ground.” The band also had a high-profile song placement in popular television drama Grey’s Anatomy and its acclaimed video for “Don’t Let Your Feet Touch Ground” could be seen on MuchMusic and beyond.

Juno-winning roots trio The Wailin’ Jennys’ latest recording, Bright Morning Stars, spent over 40 weeks on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart, while the band got attention from Dolly Parton herself for their cover of her song on the soundtrack for feature film The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mother, landed five award nominations, and recorded and released an iTunes Exclusive EP.

Hard-touring metal act KEN Mode released its new effort, Venerable, to critical acclaim, getting attention from American tastemaker blog Stereogum and landing on Exclaim! Magazine’s year-end top metal albums list.

Click here to read more news stories from 2011.

Manitoba Music itself had an extremely busy year, presenting successful market development showcases and networking events at MIDEM in France, at South by Southwest in Austin, at North by Northeast and Canadian Music Week in Toronto, at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals conference in Niagara Falls, ON, at the Reeperbahn Festival in Germany, in New York City and an additional two stand-alone shows in Toronto. These events helped to get Manitoba artists and music companies in front of influential international industry names.

To continue to facilitate artistic and business growth of the local music scene, Manitoba Music also presented 31 workshops on everything from co-writing to marketing to rights management. It also partnered with the Songwriters' Association of Canada on a songwriting camp called SongWorks.

Manitoba Music strengthened its focus on audience development within provincial borders, continuing the popular monthly Open Mic at the Folk Exchange events with the Winnipeg Folk Festival and launching a new weekly concert series, New Music Wednesdays, with the Osborne Village Inn.

Manitoba Music also launched new versions of its online presence. Both the manitobamusic.com and aboriginalmusic.ca websites were redesigned and revamped, making them more dynamic and content-rich, including an expanded Live Music Calendar, streaming radio, free weekly downloads, news, and hundreds of artist and industry profiles. Since the September launch, manitobamusic.com solidified its position as the hub of all things music in Manitoba, with over 138,000 page views and 39,4000 visits from over 21,500 visitors.

As we look forward, the coming year doesn’t look like it’ll be any less busy. In addition to another busy season of professional development events, more local audience development events, and a promotional digital compilation project, planning is already underway for more international market development events, including trips MIDEM, South by Southwest, North by Northeast, Canadian Music Week, and International Folk Alliance.

Stay tuned for more from Manitoba Music and from the exciting artists and music companies that make up the exciting and vital local music scene.


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