by Tiffany Ponce
The 2014 BreakOut West Music Festival and Conference was held in Winnipeg from October 3rd to 5th. It is an annual event that has been going strong since 2003, giving music artists and industry professionals from Western Canada the opportunity to learn, grow, and build relationships through panel discussions and networking opportunities. The last time that BreakOut West was in Winnipeg was in 2006. This was my first time taking in the event, and I was a joyful sponge throughout all of it! I have been to other festivals and conferences outside of Winnipeg and for me, this was the best of them all. The conference took place at the Fairmont Hotel in the daytime and covered such topics as songwriting, promotion, touring, publishing and licensing, and more. Industry professionals from not only Canada but all over the world were there to offer their knowledge and insight through the panels as well as one-on-one mentoring with individual artists. One of my favourite sessions was “Murphy’s Law”, a frank and impassioned crash course on how to write a hit song by successful songwriter, author, and music publisher Ralph Murphy. Another great session was on music placements for TV and movies, with discussion from various music supervisors from Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The festival took place during the evenings at venues throughout Winnipeg, with performances by artists from all over Western Canada. I was able to take in the Hip Hop Showcase at Ozzy’s as well as catch fellow Pop/R&B singer Inez Jasper at Le Garage Cafe. The weekend capped off with the Western Canadian Music Awards Gala at Club Regent Event Centre. Hosted by CBC Radio personality Grant Lawrence, the gala recognized artists from many different genres of music. A highlight of the night was when hometown hero Fred Penner was inducted into the Western Canadian Music Hall of Fame. He took the stage with his children for a wonderful rendition of his classic tune “The Cat Came Back”, filling the audience with nostalgia and prompting many to sing along. It was a great ending to an exceptional, educational, and inspiring weekend of music!