Year In Review: Manitoba Music Industry Reaches New Markets

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End of the world or not, it's not a bad time to take a look back at the year in the world of Manitoba Music. It was yet another busy year with plenty of high notes for our association, our members, and the local music community. 

Over 4000 people in Manitoba earn income working in music. They also earn accolades: In 2012, Manitoba artists landed over 100 nominations and 26 awards, including 31 nods and seven wins for Aboriginal recording artists. One of the biggest awards stories in 2012 was Vince Fontaine's Aboriginal rock supergroup, Indian City, which landed nine awards and 13 nominations for its debut release, Supernation

Many Manitoba acts spent a good portion of 2012 on the road, touring and hitting career-building showcases as far away as Greece, Australia, Germany, and France. Expanding to new markets and continuing to build important business networks has been a critical focus for many acts looking to reach even further outside our borders. Throughout the year, 79 different Manitoba acts made their way into new territories and connected with key industry players by performing over 135 showcases at 42 different events around the world. Here are just a few of the acts making headlines in 2012...

Soul/pop duo Imaginary Cities continued to build on the success of its debut, Temporary Resident. Managed by Western Canadian Music Award-winning company Empirical Artist Services (The Weakerthans, Paper Lions), the band signed with American indie label Votiv Music, Australia's Shock Records, and Germany's Grant Hotel Von Cleef, propelling its music into new international markets. Imaginary Cities logged plenty of hours in the tour van throughout 2012 before heading into the studio with producer/engineer/mixer Howard Redekopp (Tegan and Sara, Mother Mother, Hannah Georgas) to work on a new recording.

One of Manitoba's hardest touring acts, singer/songwriter Del Barber followed up last year's Juno Award nomination and double wins at the Western Canadian Music Awards by inking a deal with Toronto-based Six Shooter Records (Whitehorse, The Deep Dark Woods, Danny Michel) and releasing his third album, Headwaters. The album garnered rave reviews and Barber popped up in many magazines and radio shows, including a live performance on Q with Jian Ghomeshi. Barber, who is managed by Winnipeg-based agency and management company Paquin Entertainment, also picked up a Canadian Folk Music Award nomination for Solo Artist of the Year.

Roots trio The Wailin’ Jennys won its second Juno Award for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year for its critically acclaimed album, Bright Morning Stars, which also spent over 40 weeks on the Billboard Bluegrass Albums chart. In November, The Jennys' signature song "One Voice" was highlighted on the Today Show, which resulted in immediate and impressive chart positions on iTunes, while its rendition of "The Parting Glass" was heard by millions in two trailers for hit zombie apocalypse television show The Walking Dead. 

After racking up critical acclaim for its latest release, Venerable, hard-touring metal act KEN Mode snagged the Juno Award in the new category of Metal/Hard Music Album of the Year. The trio also got a nod for Rock Recording of the Year at the Western Canadian Music Awards, spent a lot of time on the road, and hit the studio at Private Ear Recording in Winnipeg with producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, Minus the Bear) to record its upcoming release, Entrench.

Indie electro pop outfit Royal Canoe traversed North America in 2012 and released two critically-acclaimed EPs, Extended Play and Purple & Gold, signed a management contact with Nettwerk Music in Los Angeles and booking agency agreements with Red Ryder (U.S.), LOUD Booking (France), and Burning Eagle Booking (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). The band was touted as one of the best acts at CMJ in New York, getting attention from the like of the New York Times.

Manitoba Music itself had an extremely busy year, presenting successful market development showcases and networking events at MIDEM in France, South by Southwest in Austin, North by Northeast in Toronto, Pop Montreal and M for Montreal, the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals conference in Mississauga, the Reeperbahn Festival in Germany, and showcases in New York City, Los Angeles, and Toronto. These events have helped Manitoba artists and music companies connect with influential international industry names, build important business relationships, and reach new markets. 

Manitoba Music contracted Nordicity to undertake the third economic impact analysis of Manitoba's music industry, SoundCheck. The full report, which will be available in early 2013, firmly establishes the actual economic impact that the Manitoba music industry has in our province, including a total GDP impact of $71.3 million – 28% higher than 2007. Thanks to the participation of significant numbers of music industry workers, Manitoba Music had a great response rate that enabled Nordicity to confidently speak to the economic impact of our music industry. 

 Manitoba Music also celebrated its 25th year, along with Manitoba Film & Music and On Screen Manitoba, at a gala event in November, and partnered with the West End Cultural Centre for the kick off concert to its 25th anniversary year.

To continue to facilitate artistic and business growth of the local music scene, Manitoba Music presented 24 workshops and panels on everything from music publishing to social media to touring. Visiting panelists included top names from Canada's music industry: Ralph James (The Agency Group Canada), Kerry Clarke (Calgary Folk Festival), Tonni Maruyama (Epitaph Records), Ken Beattie (Killbeat), Chris Budd (Bearsuit Publishing), and many more. Manitoba Music also hit the road for training events in Brandon and Virden, including two workshops during the Manitoba Arts Network's annual Manitoba Showcase Contact.

Manitoba Music continued to strengthen its focus on audience development within provincial borders with several events throughout the year, including: monthly Open Mic at the Folk Exchange with the Winnipeg Folk Festival; monthly Manitoba Music Night at New Music Wednesdays with the Osborne Village Inn; Manitoba Music Live on Canada Day at The Forks, which expanded to three stages; Manitoba Music Videos at IMAX during Nuit Blanche, presented with IMAX Winnipeg Portage Place and Culture Days; and three showcases in Winnipeg.

Manitoba Music's website continued to be a top destination for music fans in 2012. Over 99,000 unique visitors headed to for comprehensive live music listings, music news, streaming radio, free downloads, and hundreds of artist and industry profiles, racking up over 530,000 pageviews. 

Plans are already in place for a busy 2013, including another season of professional development events and international market development events, including trips to South by Southwest, North by Northeast, Canadian Music Week, CAPACOA, 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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