Neill Dixon Celebrates 40 Years of Canadian Music Week

Submitted by Sandy Graham

Canadian Music Week began in 1982 and has grown to become one of Canada’s largest and most influential media and music conferences. It draws top industry professionals to participate in a four-day program of activities.

Designed to stimulate the exchange of market intelligence, increase dialogue and provide networking opportunities, Canadian Music Week continues to present the ideal platform for more than 3,000 national and international delegates.

CMW is the single longest running multi-day Canadian music and media event. It manages to consistently bring together music industry professionals from around the world for the week’s events – combining conferences, award shows and one of Canada’s biggest “New Music” festivals.

Throughout the duration of the event, performers put on shows at venues ranging from popular bars and halls, to intimate cafes. Many emerging new bands use the festival as an opportunity to be spotted by the A&R representatives who are around in greater than average numbers during the event. CMW has now also evolved into a meeting place for festival buyers from around the globe to seek out and find new talent. 

We caught up with Neill Dixon in his hometown of Toronto, Canada to talk about this milestone year, that will be CMW’s ‘first time live again’ since the pandemic.

Did you ever imagine 40 years ago that CMW would have grown to the most important Canadian showcase in the country? 

“No I could never have envisioned it growing into the legacy event it has become now. I started it with David Farrell, who had Canada’s tip sheet magazine, The RECORD at the time. The concept and format was to take it and create a live trade show.  We felt we could expand on the trade section, by offering product tables along with the live music venues in the evenings”, Dixon explained.  “CMW has changed and has morphed into a real music festival with the professional business side being a huge focus on the prestigious panelists we have had over the years.” 

Names that include legendary artists, producers, songwriters and musicians:


David Foster

Paul Williams

Dennis DeYoung

Alan Parsons

Seymour Stein

Andy Kim

Chuck D

Alan Parsons

Jennifer Warnes,

Paul Williams

Public Enemy

Sir George Martin 

to name a few

How do you feel the festival has changed from the first few years?

“After many years, David Farrell was not as keen on the music side as he was to growing his magazine, so I took over CMW and we continued to grow, “ reflects Dixon. “We had different visions on moving forward and David was ahead of his time, ready to take The Record into the digital world, so he wanted to focus on the magazine and I wanted to work the live music side. Eventually CMW morphed into what it is today, more of a music festival in addition to the trade show aspect. Now my daughter, Dayna Dixon has stepped into the CEO’s seat. She took the position like a duck to water, but not really surprising since she grew up around it. Now she makes most of the major running of the day to day planning work.”

How has this next transition feel, going back to live event, after the digital presentations for the last two years?

“This year coming back we have to be lean and mean. Obviously, as like many other festivals, it was all topsy turvy for us the last few years.  We stayed strong and present by doing the digital CMW event but it is truly time to get back to live audiences and we are really looking forward to that this year – marking the 40th Anniversary at a time when we feel it is even more important than ever to be together for a live event”, Dixon says passionately. “We survived it because we have tenacity and held strong while the world changed around us. Other events are no longer here or are doing a different version of their original plan.”

How do you think audiences and participants will react to coming back after such a difficult time without live events and music?

“I think audiences will probably embrace it now more than ever after having been deprived of the live music experience,” Dixon says. “I also see a changing of the guards so to speak. The Old vs the New. The old school ways are still taken in and being used but there is a whole new crop of young and up and coming music entrepreneurs who are excited and ready to take on the roles that need to be filled as the spots open up. This is an exciting time in the business as this next generation is learning from the mistakes we might have made in the past, and creating a whole new path to success. It is truly an exhilarating time in the music business and it feels like with all the new ways of delivery and promotion, the best is yet to come.”

“I am extremely proud of the CMW Team and we are really proud to celebrate the 40th Anniversary with everyone. It is only going to get better from here on and I can’t wait to see what this year and the years to come will hold for us all.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: More exciting details about the 40th Anniversary Canadian Music Week will be announced in the coming weeks.

Canadian Music Week is Canada’s leading annual entertainment event dedicated to the expression and growth of the country’s music, media and entertainment industries. Combining multifaceted information-intensive conferences; a trade exposition; awards shows and the nation’s largest new music festival. All conference functions take place at the InterContinental Toronto Centre at 225 Front Street West in Toronto.

For more information on how to attend CMW visit:

Social media links




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Merck Mercuriadis to Make Keynote Speech at CMW 2022

“The most disruptive force in the music business, changing the game for songwriters and artists”  Hipgnosis Songs Founder & CEO Merck Mercuriadis Comes Home to Celebrate Canadian Music Week’s 40th with a Keynote Speech

Canadian Music Week is delighted to announce that Merck Mercuriadis, global industry leader and Founder and CEO of Hipgnosis will make the keynote speech at the 40th CMW Music Summit on June 9, 2022.

The CMW Conference, Canada’s largest and longest-running industry conference, takes place June 7-10, 2022 at the Ballroom Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel. The CMW Conference will include the Radio Active Conference from June 7-8, with the International Music Summit from June 8-10. Registration is now open at

Merck Mercuriadis, a Canadian born music veteran, is the Founder of Hipgnosis Songs Fund Ltd (SONG.L), the world’s biggest listed songs fund, and Founder and CEO of Hipgnosis Song Management.  Hipgnosis Songs Fund is listed on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the prestigious FTSE 250.  Last October, Hipgnosis announced a partnership with the Blackstone Group for a second fund with an initial $1bn to invest.

Hipgnosis owns and manages around 150 catalogs containing over 65,000 songs.  Merck’s objective has been to purchase culturally significant tracks which soundtrack our lives.  A fifth of Hipgnosis’ catalog have been top 10s and Hipgnosis owns rights in a quarter of the 240 songs in Spotify’s Billions Club.

Hipgnosis hall of fame includes songs by Neil Young, Nile Rogers, Leonard Cohen, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The-Dream, Poo Bear, Lindsey Buckingham, Christine McVie, Richie Sambora, Blondie, Dave Stewart, Chrissie Hynde, Mark Ronson, The Kaiser Chiefs and Rhett Akins.

A Virgin Records marketing director at 19, Merck Mercuriadis would help launch and spend 20 years at Sanctuary Music overseeing the management and recordings of myriad legendary artists (including, yes, KISS).

In 2018 Merck launched Hipgnosis, having recognised that the traditional lifespan of a song – time on the charts and a quick burst of sales – and the steady decline in music revenues since the start of the century would be reversed by the growth in streaming.

Songs now live forever, and make money every day, every time they are streamed. In addition, Merck Mercuriadis’ proactive “song management” approach seeks opportunities for songs in Hipgnosis’ catalogs in films, TV series, games, advertising, cover versions, event music and, of course, across social media.

Merck’s genius has been to anticipate change and realize the hard value of the music we love,” says Canadian Music Week president Neill Dixon. “What hasn’t changed is our relationship with this consummate ‘disruptor.’ At every step of his career, he has been a friend of CMW and has shared his journey with our delegates. We are proud to welcome him once again on the occasion of our 40th.”