Audience with hands raised at a music festival and lights streaming down from above the stage. Soft focus, blurred movement.
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It was a tough summer for Canadian music festivals. Here’s why.

[This appeared in the Financial Post this weekend. If you’re wondering why the Canadian music festival scene had a rough summer, read this. – AC]

Tim Potocic has had quite the eventful summer.

The director of the long-running Supercrawl Festival in Hamilton has been constantly working against the clock to transform 18 downtown blocks into an all-ages, multi-genre and free celebration of the arts on the Sept. 13 to 15 weekend: booking musicians, licensing food and alcohol vendors, reaching out to local artists and supervising around 20 fashion designer runway shows. That’s on top of leading 180 to 200 staff and volunteers and worrying about any of the acts dropping out at a moment’s notice.

Potocic used the record label, Sonic Unyon Recording Co., which he co-founded in 1993 along with Mark Milne and Sandy McIntosh, to fund the first iteration of Supercrawl in 2009, when about 3,000 people showed up for the four-hour event. In its 2018 edition, Supercrawl brought in 250,000 people, including many tourists from the U.S., which he said had a $16-million economic impact on the city of Hamilton.

“We just felt a real kinship to being Hamiltonians and when we saw this momentum, this shift start to happen and we wanted it to grow,” Potocic said. “We’ve grown from a little upstart. We actually didn’t even measure (economic impact) in the first couple of years.”

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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One thought on “It was a tough summer for Canadian music festivals. Here’s why.

  • There’s room for many more festivals, but they need to find the right niche, venue and time slot. The problem with Toronto festivals is that they were ALL going for the same target demographic, with the same types of headliners. Pick your spot and go with it. Ottawa hasn’t had nearly as much trouble with festivals because the major ones (Bluesfest, CityFolk, Jazzfest, etc.) all have their targets, and vary just enough to leave space for each other. WayHome, Bestival, Field Trip, etc. were basically mini-Osheagas and had nothing to differentiate themselves from the rest. The result is they just get lost in the noise.
    Bring back Edgefest, and make it an annual event again, with the right mix of alt-rock and I have no doubt it will do well.


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