It might be cold but it’s very cool at M for Montreal

Landing in a snow storm (and the plane having to stop to let the snow plough through) was soon eclipsed by the warm welcome afforded to delegates and artists at this relatively unexplored showcase and networking festival by the UK and European music industry.

Welcome induction by Sébastien Nasra, Mikey Rishwain Bernard and the M for Montreal host team

Founded in 2006, M for Montreal is now recognized as Quebec’s most important initiative for indie music exports. Renowned for its showcase festival and international conference in November as well as for its recurring satellite events in the main music markets around the world, M for Montreal orchestrates pivotal windows of opportunity for artists as well as essential business development rendez-vous for the local and international music industry.

There may be concerns regarding the francophile elements of Quebec’s long history, but that is not the experience in reality with all sessions run in English. Nor throughout the city itself. The city is young, vibrant, multi ethnic and cosmopolitan with international students from all over the world studying at the renowned McGill University.

It is also a very stylish city with the conference centre and networking area at the Esplanade Tranquille resembling more of a mountain lodge in its comfort and design.

An innovative and useful initiative was the pre event virtual Mixers for delegates to identify key people to meet up with at the event and a big differentiator of M for Montreal was the ease of which it was to have fruitful meetings.

The panels and meet and greets covered many of the current core important subjects of Supervision, Data and it’s use in A & R royalties and rights, and as with a running theme of local v international sessions on how to get your music heard internationally. Contributors and sponsors included names such as Tunecore, MMF, believe, Downtown/CDbaby and FOCUS Wales alongside local industry bodies.

International speakers included Cesar Andion (Live nation Spain/the Spanish Wave/Andalucia Music Forum), Andreas Katsambas (President Chartmetric), Cindy James (SVP/Head of Commercial Marketing Virgin Music), among others.

The highly memorable and amusing keynote was an exclusive conversation between two of Seattle’s music legends: Megan Jasper, CEO of Sub Pop Records and Cheryl Waters, DJ and radio host on KEXP.

As for music it was Marathon by name and marathon in reality, with artists playing daytime for industry delegates and night time public shows over four days across the City with easy transport links supported by  an efficient (and warm) metro system.

MARATHON events at the festival are open to the general public and showcased a hundred emerging artists in different venues across the city. Its 2nd edition took place in parallel to M for Montreal, from November 16th to 19th.

The artist showcases from record labels and funding bodies such as PEI and FOCUS Wales were well attended including DIY x Groover’s inaugural event at the festival.

Line up included Marco Ema, Reno McCarthy, Ponteix and Flara K

DIY’s campaign with – the D-I-Y platform for artists to get feedback on their tracks from the music media and industry community – was a collaborative stage activation at M for Montreal festival, with Groover Obsessions, their artist accelerator programme. Recruiting DIY as media partner, Groover went on to receive over 1,150 applicants from its call-out for artists won by Marco Ema.

There was also a very strong showing of US indie alternative labels and DIY were delighted to make contact with MNRK, Mom + POP, True Panther, Fat Possum as well as local Cadence Music Group, Dine Alone records and  Royal Mountain Records whose artist Orville Peck was DIY’s cover star in April 2022.

Despite the full on networking and showcase experience there is time to visit a very beautiful city, which despite its modernity still has retained much of its history.

The festival hosted a bus ride through the city taking in the sights and arts and cultural landmarks. A walk through the historical Old Port district is not to be missed.

Without doubt M for Montreal has come of age and deserves to get more attention from the international music industry.


With thanks to Marie-Michelle Bouchard and Alexanne Brisson for their photos.