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CMW Head Flatters Ed Bicknell Back to Toronto Conference To Conduct Donald Passman and Bill Silva Keynote Interviews

canadian music week 2024

Leading North American music industry conference Canadian Music Week (CMW), now in its 42nd year, has lured engaging interviewer and former Dire Straits manager Ed Bicknell back to Toronto this June for two keynote interviews. He has not been to Canada since the 1990s.

The following was created in collaboration with Canadian Music Week, a company DMN is proud to be partnered with.

Bicknell will sit down with legendary concert promoter Bill Silva on the June 4 and entertainment lawyer and author Donald Passman on 5th.

“First of all, I have never considered them interviews. I always think of them as conversations. That’s because I don’t have an editorial button in my brain. I love it to be spontaneous,” Bicknell says.

Over the past three-plus decades, Bicknell has “interviewed” about 70 guests, many over the past 23 years for London’s International Live Music Conference (ILMC). He was enticed back to CMW by sheer flattery.

“As you may recall, your contributions to Canadian Music Week in the nineties were nothing short of remarkable,” CMW president Neill Dixon wrote to him in an email.

“Your annual industry celebrity interviews with luminaries such as entertainment lawyer Allen Grubman, Miles Copeland, Peter Grant, Jerry Wexler, Wolfman Jack left an indelible mark on our conference’s history. Your insightful discussions and your ability to delve into the minds of these music industry icons made those moments and laughs unforgettable for our attendees.”

Bicknell says he’s interviewed “everybody imaginable,” label presidents, artists, agents. His favourite was Sir George Martin, but this year he thought he was done.

“I had 23 years doing these interview conversation things with the ILMC and I’d got to the point where, to be quite honest, we were running out of characters. It’s very difficult to interview what I call corporate types because they don’t say anything because, ‘It’s going to be on YouTube in 10 minutes. I can’t do this.’ So, it’s quite difficult to find people.”

Dixon, who saw Bicknell’s interview last month at ILMC with AEG Presents chairman and CEO Jay Marciano, prompted the invitation.

“Your more recent involvement at the ILMC, where you have charmed audiences with your trademark humorous interview style alongside numerous top celebrity guests, further demonstrates your continued relevance and appeal within the live music industry,” Dixon wrote.

No more ego stroking was needed. Bicknell said yes.

“Don and Bill, I’ve known for many years,” he says. “They’re both great speakers and the ideal guests. My main objective is to make it entertaining, as well as informative.”

In the lead up to CMW, Bicknell will not do any preparation, just pack his bag and touch down in Toronto, as promised. “I know the first thing that I’m going to ask, and, after that, it either takes off or it doesn’t,” he says.

The Yorkshire native, who promoted shows in the late 60s by the likes of The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Pink Floyd and The Kinks, moved to London, where he played drums in several bands. He became an agent at NEMS, representing a range of acts from Jose Feliciano to Black Sabbath to the Ramones. In the late 70s, he started managing newly signed act Dire Straits, which went on to sell over 156 million albums worldwide.

When the band dissolved in 1993, he continued representing frontman Mark Knopfler, as well as Gerry Rafferty, Bryan Ferry, and others. In late 2000, he amicably stopped managing Knopfler and closed his office. A few years later, LA’s William Morris Agency hired him to set up and run a London office. He left in 2010.

CMW’s conference runs June 3-5 at The Westin Harbour Castle. The festival, Canada’s largest for new music, is June 1-8.

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