Manitoba Music Goes Pop in Berlin

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I am in the back room of the Canada Stand at Popkomm Berlin - about 200 meters from the famous 82 year old Berlin Radio Tower. It's just after noon on the final day and the exhibit hall at Messe Berlin is jumping with people from around the world trying to fit in last-minute meetings, make deals, and get industry people to attend the last night of showcasing in clubs around town.

The Canada Stand is a large space that CIRPA coordinates at international events. This allows Canadians can buy in for a small fee so they can have a home-base to house their promo materials, take meetings, and have access to the people and resources they need to make the most of a chaotic event like this. 27 Canadian companies/organisations are a part of this stand - companies like Arts & Crafts, Six Shooter, Mint Records, Canadian Music Week, Sonic Unyon, True North, and Manitobans Arbor, Balanced, and Rising Sun. The public side of the stand has about 25 cafe tables that are constantly populated with people meeting with their long-time European distributors, with potential clients, and with random others who drop by to see what may come of a chance meeting.

This event has 3 halls each with 20 or 30 stands like this - some are hosted by a country's export office, others by private companies. In my travels through the hall, I've found the most lavish to be that of Univeral Music Group, Germany - they have slick stylish black sofas, champagne, and a huge waterfall that's somehow programmed to spit out water in the names of its artists.

Yesterday, the Canadian Consulate in Berlin organised a fantastic event called the International MatchMaking Event (IME). Funded entirely by the soon-to-be-gonzo-TradeRoutes, and organised by the soon-to-be-terminated-due-to-cancelled-traderoutes-funding Cultural Trade Commissioner, this event matched up people working in all aspects of the music biz with others from other countries. I had 12 meetings organised for me, speed-dating style, with all sorts of people from Australia, Catalonia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Noway, Switzerland, and USA. I filled my un-booked time getting to know better my fellow Canadians. This was an outstanding success, was open to all Canadians in attendance (49 companies in total), and to steal Popkomm's tag line, was "essential, effective, and global."

I took the opportunity to meet with people Manitoba Music might be able to work with in the future, to build relationships with companies who might be good partners for Manitobans now or in the future, and I also honed in on industry experts to get a sense of trends and intellegence that will give MB a competative advantage.

This is my third European music business conference - I've attended 2 MIDEMs before this - and I have to say I'm disappointed to learn that the IME and events like it could cease to exist unless alternate sources of funding are found. Duncan McKie from CIRPA tells me of plans to bring in corporate partners to help finance these kinds of export initiatives both on this continent and in the US. But it leaves a bad taste when I hear of other industries having dedicated government support for export marketing activities, when support to the cultural industries is on the chopping block.


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