Canadian Music Week 2020 Officially Cancelled

After initially rescheduling from May to September in the early weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, Canadian Music Week 2020 is now officially cancelled. CMW CEO Danya Dixon emailed conference and festival attendees last night, May 4th, to confirm the news.

All ticketed concerts have been refunded or are in the process of being refunded, according to CMW.

“It is with great regret and overriding concern for the safety of all participants, that Canadian Music Week is abandoning efforts to present our annual festival and conference in 2020,” Dixon said in her email. “We are hopeful of finding a date in 2021 to continue our nearly four-decade tradition of bringing the world’s music and music-makers to Toronto. However, we will not make decisions ahead of events. We will follow protocols and assess our best options going forward.  Once this is confirmed, we will reach out again to discuss our options for re-setting the programming agenda.”

Originally, the 38th edition of CMW was going to take place from May 19-23 at various concert venues in downtown Toronto, with the three-day music industry conference at the Sheraton Centre Hotel. Then in mid-March, as the coronavirus outbreak worsened and governments began to shutdown non-essential businesses, ban large public gathering, implement social distancing protocols, and even restrict travel, CMW organizers announced that they had rescheduled the entire event for September 9-11 at the same venues. To many at that time in mid-March, the fall seemed like a safe bet that things would be back to “normal.” In recent weeks, however, as the scale and timeline of the pandemic became clearer, it also became obvious that any large events, like conferences and music festival, would not be allowed again this year, at least in Ontario.

Last week, when speaking to Canadian Musician for an upcoming article in the magazine, Canadian Live Music Association Executive Director Erin Benjamin said, “I really feel for promoters and festivals who postponed rather than cancelled.”

“But after extensive consultation with industry partners, it has become apparent that - at this point in the public health emergency - September represented too many unavoidable obstacles. Not least of these would be the participation of international artists and delegates, many of whom might not be free to travel at that point, and some of whom have already declined to attend,” Dixon added in her email. “Even in a best-case fall scenario, wherein the spread of COVID-19 has been mitigated and limited public gatherings allowed, high-attendance events such as concerts, sports and conferences will likely be the last public activities to resume. The fallout is huge, for events like ours and for the entire music industry.”

As of March 5th, the City of Toronto has had 6,278 cases of COVID-19, including 449 deaths, and is still reporting 20 to 50 news cases each day.

“But beyond the dire and tragic statistics, what can’t be measured is the frustration of hard work, ambition and creativity going unseen and unheard. To that end, we are investigating some virtual options for mounting a digital extension of Canadian Music Week, including a series of webinars and conference livestreams. More information on those initiatives will follow,” Dixon says.

For more information as it becomes available, go to

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast.
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