Nominated for: pitting festivals against each other, with local bands caught in the middle.
Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—the people, places, things, and ideas that have had the most positive and negative impacts on the city over the past 12 months. Cast your ballot until 5 p.m. on December 30. At noon on December 31, we’ll reveal your choices for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.
In February, the good-hearted staffers at NXNE wrote a note explaining the festival’s new radius clause—a contractual obligation that meant any band playing the huge music fest could not play anywhere in Toronto 45 days before or after its NXNE show. “As the saying goes, distance makes the heart grow fonder,” they argued. “We want fans, media, agents, and everyone else to be excited for your show(s) at NXNE. We want people to come see you, and that means there needs to be demand for it.”
Four months later, those same folks scrapped the radius clause.
The debacle occurred in 2014 because Canadian Music Week had decided to move, for the first time in 32 years, from the middle of winter onto NXNE’s sunny summer turf. It forced artists to choose sides, Montague-versus-Capulet-style (and because CMW has never been the stronger of the two, it took a beating as a result).
But CMW should never have been pitted against NXNE—bands should be able to play both. Major international headliners likely wouldn’t play two Toronto festivals three weeks apart anyway, and smaller acts only benefit from the exposure. Music festivals should, and do, co-exist. And, to be frank, Toronto’s summers are already so oversaturated with them that cultural selection will weed out the weakest in due time anyway.
This year’s radius clause controversy created a relatively small, local squabble. The real boss battle could come thanks to Lollapalooza, whose industry-destroying radius clause—which bars acts from appearing within 90 days and several hundred kilometres of their Lollapalooza sets—could do some serious damage if the event moves to Toronto next year. Local festival organizers are justifiably worried—and we should be, too.