Submitted by Peter Astedt
Canada is a big country, so big it’s hard to wrap around the different distances in your head. Even though the country has its fair share of showcase festivals, they mostly happen in the eastern part of Canada. BreakOut West is as the name says, the leading one in Western Canada and has been for the past twenty years.
Just because the problem with that western Canada is so big the festival is an itinerant happening. They move locations every year to support the local music industry and this year the festival was in Calgary in the province of Alberta . The movement of the festival makes each festival kind of a unique experience. Each edition is a new area and a new place to explore.
BreakOut West can be compared to a nice midsize festival. Here you definitely have everything from the local music industry to the national as well as a selected bunch of handpicked international music industry professionals. BreakOutwest this year was centered around the Marriott Hotel in downtown Calgary. One whole floor of the hotel was dedicated to different rooms where both meetups, lectures, and receptions were held. On top of that, it was a cozy but large lobby downstairs that was used for grabbing people and also to have smaller concert performances.
One thing that was very interesting was how the festival used two different areas of bars and clubs for the festival. Thursday, the first day they used a club area a couple of blocks from the Hotel. They used shuttles to get you down there. Then all the gig places were around the corner from each other, and you could easily see several artists in an hour. Then for the rest of the festival, all gig places were around the corner from the Mariott in perfect walking distance.
I like midsize festivals. They are big enough to hold people that I have to meet, and also big enough to hold new exciting people that I didn’t know I had to meet. The size makes it easy to meet all people over all the days but at the same time not hanging with the same people all the time. It’s a perfect mix, great for the person that wants to get into the music industry, but also big enough for the experienced to make good business contacts. Here BreakOut West is shining, the staff and the organizers are super friendly and help you a lot to find the people that you should meet.
The lineup is of course is very Canadian. BreakOut West serves as the festival for all western Provinces and some exchanges with the eastern Provinces as well. With that of course you get a lot of Canadian acts playing. This year you had some special exchange programs with Wales and the Nordic countries, so you also got some European bands in the mix. A perfect combination.
BreakOut West is a festival to be on if you want to start to get into the Western Canada market. Also, a good starting point to get your international network going in a very friendly environment.