Inside the Listening Room

Saturday, Nov 19, 2016 at 1pm
Alex Bonenfant, Sleepless Records & Nightmare Management
Kyle Merkley, Arpix Media
Matt R. Fisher, CBC Music
Emily Haffenden, Aporia
Manitoba Music
1-376 Donald St., Winnipeg, MB


What are industry experts listening for when they hear music for the first time? This panel will offer insight into the inner workings of an A&R music meeting or listening session. Participants will listen to new music alongside the experts, learn what they listen for when hearing new demos, and be part of the discussion about what makes a strong first impression and why. This is a unique opportunity to go inside the listening room and find out what matters most to some of the best ears in the business.

If you wish to have your music played for the panel, please attach and send an mp3 with a bit rate no higher than 128 kbps and lyrics in a Word doc to

Music of all genres and songwriters of all levels are welcome. It is not necessary to bring a song to attend and hear what the panelists have to say. A section of songs will be played for the entire group, followed by comments from the panel. 

Alexandre Bonenfant is a JUNO Award winning/Polaris nominated music producer/recording engineer, entrepreneur, recording studio owner/operator, artist manager, and founder/president of Toronto's Sleepless Records. Alex graduated from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology in 2004 and began his professional career as an assistant engineer at Cherry Beach Sound and the Orange Lounge. After five years apprenticing and honing is craft he decided to go out on his own in 2010 and partnered in opening the Dream House Studio: a cultural hotbed in Toronto for emerging and developed talent, seeing artists like The Weeknd and July Talk come through its door. The Dreamhouse is also home to Sleepless Records and Nightmare management, where Alex leads the label and management for July Talk, and a handful of other developing artists. 

After obtaining her BA in Communication Studies and Sound Engineering from Concordia University in 2012, Emily Haffenden worked for Montreal- and Toronto-based music houses and record labels such as Apollo Studios and Draper Street Records, where she acted as music librarian. The work experience allowed her the opportunity to assist Music Supervisors on several films. The years of experience surely paid off as she is now the licensing and sync rep at Aporia Records, a Toronto-based Indie label with an exciting roster of eclectic artists.

Director of music and technology at Arpix Media, Kyle Merkley's music supervision credits include Murdoch Mysteries (CBC), Remedy (GlobalTV), and more. Throughout his musical endeavours, Kyle has appeared on Entertainment Tonight: Canada and MuchMusic's disBAND, as well as having written and performed with top 24 Canadian Idol contestants.

Matt Fisher is a producer, music curator, and writer based out of Toronto. In 2010, he signed on to join the music programming team at SiriusXM Canada, leaving behind a government job that did not fulfill his background in radio and television — or his lifelong passion for music. While at SiriusXM, Matt programmed Canadian indie rock stations The Verge and Iceberg, and hosted several weekly shows, including LiVE@TheVerge. Two years later, he moved on, beginning a job with CBC Music. Matt’s current main role is producer of Sonica, a Triple A stream on CBC Music. Outside of work, Matt attends more than 150 shows a year, constantly looking for incredible new acts. He is also a FACTOR, ECMA and Polaris jury member.

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