Why Is There a Petition Against NXNE? [UPDATE]

North by Northeast is in full effect in Toronto with hundreds and hundreds of musicians and fans descending upon the city.  It’s a great summer event, one of the best the country has to offer.  However, there is discontent.

Most fans don’t know this, but there’s often a rule imposed on artists who wish to play a festival–and it’s this rule that has annoyed a lot of NXNE participants.

If your band wants to play a festival, you have to agree not to play in the host city within a 45 day period.  No gigs 45 days out from the festival.  This is a pretty standard sort of thing for festivals around the world.  And usually makes a tremendous amount of sense because you don’t want an act to book a show that will compete with their festival gig.  That’s bad for the artist and for the festival programmers.

Where this doesn’t make sense is when we look at small local bands.  Yes, you want to play an event by NXNE, but if you agree to that, you can’t play in your own city for a month-and-a-half before your festival show.  That doesn’t seem right.

This is why a petition has been launched asking that NXNE abolish the 45-day radius clause for local bands and emerging artist. If you want to read more, go here.  And you want a great playlist featuring many of the artists at this year’s event, go here.  Finally, the Huffington Post as a look back on 20 years of NXNE.

UPDATE:  Well, that didn’t take long.  This press release came out this afternoon.

Canadian Music Week (CMW) in conjunction with NXNE announce the removal of the radius clause, allowing emerging artists greater leeway to perform locally while still being considered for both 2015 festivals.

Earlier this year, NXNE introduced a 45-day radius clause for the 2014 festival to help cultivate a unique festival line-up in Toronto’s increasingly crowded festival landscape. Though many in the industry understood and supported the rationale behind the policy, it also generated some controversy.

After taking note of opinions expressed online, and following productive meetings with CMW president Neill Dixon, NXNE has decided to eliminate the blanket radius clause for 2015. The two festivals believe that through greater cooperation and communication, they can better serve all venues, artists, and music fans in Toronto while at the same time preserving their respective identities.

We are happy to see this issue resolved for the strength of the local community and artists building their careers. We look forward to both of the festivals co-existing in 2015 and continuing to grow Toronto as ‘the’ music destination,” says Neill Dixon, president of Canadian Music Week.

We are so fortunate to have such an engaged and vocal music community,” says NXNE’s Michael Hollett. “Unintended consequences of our policy were pointed out. We are making changes that address these issues – changes that don’t hurt up-and-coming bands, and yet still protect the integrity of NXNE’s lineup.

Today, NXNE will hold a free, public forum as part of its industry conference. “Why NXNE Sucks” will encourage panelists and audience to explore issues and concerns voiced by the local music community about festival policies. Artists, bookers, writers, industry and fans are invited to air their grievances with all things NXNE – from the application process to ticket prices to further discussion of 2014’s radius clause.

NXNE has curated this session as part of an ongoing dialogue with the local music community. The festival values its connection to this community and will continue to work to strengthen its relationship with artists in all stages of their careers.

Nice.  A happy ending.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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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