Villain: North By Northeast
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Villain: North By Northeast

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains of 2007––the people, places, and things that we’ve either fallen head over heels in love with or developed uncontrollable rage towards over the past twelve months. Get your dose, starting Boxing Day and running into the new year, three times a day––sunrise, noon, and sunset.
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Most people would respond with shock if you expressed your distaste for the ever-growing music festival (read: conference) that involves music enthusiasts (read: label mongrels) congregating in the city with a common denominator: a love for the music (industry). Sure, with a long list of solid alumni ranging from Feist to Dinosaur Jr. to Sufjan Stevens, it’s difficult to hate NXNE in its dedication to giving independent artists the opportunity to play at a high-profile festival. The conference, in fact, is quite direct about its mission. As per the NXNE website: “NXNE has always been about the music. The festival gives 500 local, national and international artists the chance to rock the crowds and to showcase for agents, talent buyers, media, promoters, labels and management company heavies at a variety of essential downtown venues.” Yes, that is definitely what music is all about.
But the chance to “rock the crowds” definitely comes at a price—each band must submit an application and pay a fee of $25 to be considered for inclusion. Admittedly, the $25 seems reasonable compared to Canadian Music Week’s $50 application fee, but the fee seems unnecessary considering how generous the city is to the conference. First, dozens of locals volunteer for NXNE and generously help with big tasks ranging from equipment load-ins, ushering attendees at venues, running the doors at shows, and posting banners and signage at venues throughout the city (many of these venues are free for NXNE to use, by the way). And of course, NXNE is very well-sponsored—sponsors everyone is made well aware of since ads for most are plastered across the venues occupied by the conference. With 500+ artists showcased at NXNE (which is nowhere close to the number of applicants), $25 with every application is a huge fee.
The conference in and of itself is not the only disappointment. Local print media jump at the chance to big-up the conference with detailed schedules and play-by-play recommendations. It is disheartening to think of the pull-out feature pieces available every year for the conference while much less enthusiasm is disposed into local music series that are equally, if not more, supportive of independent music in and around the city.
Photo of the NXNE rabbit in Vegas by NXNErabbit.

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