Wrap-up of the 26th edition of Les FrancoFolies de Montréal
Montreal, Sunday, June 22, 2014 — Mission accomplished! Those two words sum up this magnificent 26th edition of Les FrancoFolies de Montréal! The world’s largest celebration of francophone musical expression, presented by Bell in collaboration with Ford of Canada, once again transformed the downtown core and the Quartier des Spectacles into a gigantic jukebox and offered a vivid glimpse of everything good about music en français. The festival drew crowds from children to seniors, hardcore lovers of chanson française to the most demanding hipsters, devotees of rock, punk, hip-hop, country… And all were amazed by the range of music, including a sizeable Anglophone crowd presence, and a correlative coverage in the Anglophone press. We leave this edition with a particular sense of delight and pride!
Indeed, the Francos remained faithful to the mission that created them in the first place, thanks to the willpower, energy and divine madness of the three visionaries who believed so deeply that an event dedicated exclusively to francophone music could exist here in Montréal: Alain Simard, Guy Latraverse, and Jean-Louis Foulquier, who left us far too soon this past December. Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, a non-profit organization, were created in response to a genuine need to promote French songs and music, and to empower and stimulate the creativity and careers of artists from the entire French-speaking planet, in every way possible. And with this in mind, we can look at these 11 days and nights of musical celebration and affirm that we have now, more than ever, accomplished our mission.
Music above all
The signature of our event, the component that makes it unique—beyond the truly Montreal formula of free urban entertainment—is its commitment to artistic development, its role in promoting our popular culture, offering a voice to all the music of the francophonie. And this 26th edition demonstrated that brilliantly, in myriad ways.
The Francos have always been an incredible springboard for artists from home and abroad. Consider Valérie Carpentier, who made her Montreal premiere with us—and in Théâtre Maisonneuve, if you please! In 2010, a barely-known Zaz played outdoors in a tent, and now here she was blowing up in a packed Métropolis! Three years ago, we invited Stromae even before his first hit was out… and here he was back to thrill the Centre Bell for two evenings. Stromae even reminded the media that he chose Karim Ouellet to open his shows here and in Europe because he discovered him right here, on an outdoor stage in 2011!
How many artists have profited from this platform, launching a new album, or tour or project? Many of those who launched new albums in 2013-2014 brought their premieres to the Francos. For example, Éric Lapointe, on the eve of his massive free outdoor show Soirée SiriusXM, told journalists that he had chosen the main Francos outdoor stage for the premiere of his Jour de nuit… a beautifully symbolic gesture to underline his twenty-year love affair with the fest! It’s been twenty years since a then-unknown rocker delivered his first show, landed on Page 1, and took the first steps to the megastar status we now recognize…
The links created during the Francos play out in many projects, thanks to the faith our programmers bring to the enterprise. Consider Fontarabie: since we’ve been following Malajube since their inception, it was only normal for us to invest in the new project spearheaded by their singer-guitarist, Julien Mineau. No one else would have taken up that task. The Francos spark creativity, which leads to shows that could not be conceived or executed otherwise. Fioritudes is a perfect example: who would have thought we’d ever see the work of Fiori onstage? And what can we say about Pierre Lapointe and the climax of his Punkt tour in the huge free outdoor Rendez-vous Loto-Québec, and the show he conceived especially for the Musée Grévin?
The Francos also inspire genre-crossover en masse, and bring everyone together. Sure, the fans love it, but so do the artists, who love to sit in with their brother-sister artists all over the site and program! The fest was full of surprises, including Pierre Lapointe, Arianne Moffatt and Karim Ouellet joining -M-, Lisa LeBlanc visiting the Lost Bayou Ramblers and happy renuinos of Les sœurs Boulay and Alex Nevsky, and Yann Perreau, André Papanicolaou and Patrice Michaud.
And let’s not forget the incredible gift the Francos offered to faithful fans: La symphonie rapaillée, created thanks to a major investment by Les FrancoFolies de Montréal, which presented the very first show in the history of Douze hommes rapaillés. And what a success! After two superb albums of Douze hommes rapaillés, Gaston Miron’s creation underwent a majestic metamorphosis thanks to the work of Blair Thompson in arrangements, Louis-Jean Cormier and Martin Léon in artistic direction, the musicians of the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal conducted by Jean-François Rivest, and Marc Béland in stage direction. Our 12 gentlemen—Louis-Jean Cormier, Alex Nevsky, Jim Corcoran, Michel Faubert, Richard Séguin, Vincent Vallières, Michel Rivard, Pierre Flynn, Yves Lambert, Gilles Bélanger, Martin Léon and Daniel Lavoie—have even guaranteed that this marvelous project, launched 6 years ago at the Francos, will close with the OSM in a massive democratization of the words of Gaston Miron. Make sure you don’t miss this Grande soirée de clôture Bell offered free tonight at 9 p.m., on the Bell Stage on the Place des Festivals!
The Francos also amaze visitors from across the Atlantic. The members of French group Éléphant told us that they were gobsmacked by an event offering so many shows completely in French—“That doesn’t even happen in France anymore!” A number of visiting European promoters remarked on our programmers’ incredible radar for the Next Great Thing, which meant they had to come to Montreal to discover their own up-and-comers, like Moodoïd and Buridane! The Francos work for all francophone artists, and further creative communication between artists, countries, and the industry.
The Francos offer much more than shows—they build the industry. Locals and Europeans working in music gather in Montreal, discuss issues, brainstorm, sign artists, looking to engage the Francos as a launchpad. And as we can see, the Rendez-vous Pros, the Prix Félix-Leclerc, the Tournée des Francos, the Ford Rising Star, the FrancoFair, etc. prove that the Francos never cease to conceive of new ways to further the cause of Francophone musical expression.
This 26th edition was a box office bonanza—with a number of sold-out or virtually sold-out shows including Isabelle Boulay, Zaz, Les Sœurs Boulay, Pierre Lapointe in the Musée Grévin, La Rue Ketanou, Plaza Francia, Grand Corps Malade, Alex Nevsky, Vincent Vallières… and the brilliant Stromae, who drew over 22,000 to the Centre Bell, a FrancoFolies record! The extraordinary program might have guaranteed record attendance, if the weather hadn’t been so un-co-operative during the first half… Obviously, the Ford Opening Event with Louis-Jean Cormier, Jimmy Hunt, Klô Pelgag and Bertrand Belin would have drawn a much larger crowd… But luckily, performances by Marie-Mai and La symphonie rapaillée tonight under what we expect to be a beneficent sky will electrify a site that is aching to be packed with FrancoFans!
Music for all… free for all!
The Francos further their mission to promote Francophone music with a uniquely effective program: the free schedule! It’s no surprise to learn that the popularity of this program has elevated Les Francos into the ranks of the three Québec events that, together, draw more than half of all tourists who come to Québec specifically for major events! And believe us, the artists love it as much as the audience does! Our famed formula “A Special Event Every Night” gathered an incredible succession of unique and magical shows on the Place des Festivals. In addition to the shows already cited, let us mention Vilain Pingouin, celebrating their 25th anniversary of Québecois greatness, Marc Dupré expanding his irresistible charm accompanied by special guests, Loco Locass lighting it up the way only they can, and Marco Calliari illuminating the incredible Grande fête multiculturelle Hydro-Québec with such major local artists as Paul Piché, Michel Faubert and Stephen Faulkner.
And here’s some good news for Montreal: since moving to a June staging, Les FrancoFolies have registered a staggering 54% increase in patronage, reaching the 1.3 million visitor mark, according to studies carried out in 2010 and 2013 by Secor and Ipsos Marketing. Furthermore, the number of tourists from outside Québec attending the event has more than doubled in three years, reaching 50,000 distinct persons, including 66% from Europe who spent an average of 11 days in Quebec! We’ve now transcended the off-peak time between the Grand Prix (marking the end of business tourism) and the beginning of the summer holiday tourism launched by the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal!
4th edition of the Rendez-vous Pros des Francos
The 4th edition of the Rendez-vous Pros des Francos, presented thanks to the support of Musicaction, SACEM, SOCAN, SODEC and Wallonie-Bruxelles International — Québec Delegation, offered a bigger boost than ever to the health of our music scene by connecting the music industries of Europe and Québec. It was a barnstorming success, with record participation: about 250 accredited professionals attended our workshops, performances presented by the SACEM, L-Abe, Wallonie-Bruxelles International, Bonsound and Coyote Records and, of course, our cocktails! Our speed meetings inspired plenty of great business—112 meetings in 2 days!—between professionals from Québec, France, Belgium and Switzerland. The activities organized in partnership with ADISQ also registered record attendance, with over 100 participants. Other highlights included the day of activities dedicated to the Wallonia-Brussels music industry, and the activities organized with the Association des professionnels de l’édition musicale (APEM), who delivered the 2nd Prix Christopher-J.-Reed Award, presented annually to a person involved in his professional community, to Jehan V. Valiquet, music publisher and founder of Groupe Éditorial Musinfo Inc. And when we say the Francos open the door to artists, the Rendez-vous Pros offer a perfect example: as a result of their performances, Buridane, Éléphant and Barcella how have Québec representation and will soon return to perform here… no later than autumn, given the Barcella date that’s already been booked. In addition, the Dead Obies will head to France in December for the Bars en Trans festival… in addition to pocketing a $10,000 prize offered by CKOI 96.9, intended to recognize and reward the Québecois artist or band who delivered the best performance during showcases, in order to propel the development of their career on the international stage.
A new Ford Rising Star is born!
Under the watchful eye of mentor Luc De Larochellière, finalists of this 3rd edition of the Ford Rising Star contest presented by Les FrancoFolies de Montréal in collaboration with Ford of Canada, Mathieu Bérubé, Joffré Lemieux, Sanya Michel-Elie and Marc-André Sauvageau took the stage yesterday evening to attempt to win over the audience and convince judges Johanne Blouin, Amélie Veille, Yves Décary and Catherine Major that they deserve the $5000 prize offered by Ford! And the grand champion is Marc-André Sauvageau! Joffré Lemieux won the audience prize—$1500 offered by CKOI 96.9! CKOI 96.9 also awarded $1500 to the other 3 finalists. The contest has once again struck a chord with the public, with over 190,000 Internet votes and thousands of comments on Facebook. Who wants to step up to the mic next year?
The inaugural FrancoFair was finally held on the first Sunday of the Festival, at the foot of the SiriusXM Stage! It all went exactly as expected: a festive little event gathering the music industry and the public, in the spirit of Québec’s famed flea markets. It was cool and relaxed, under blissful summer sunshine. Representatives of all sectors of the industry benefitted from the showcase, with browsers shopping for little musical treasures (CDs, vinyl, t-shirts, silkscreens, etc.). Very special thanks to our artists—Émily Rajotte, Sébastien Lafleur, Antoine Corriveau, Mauves, Maritza, Philémon Cimon, Safia Nolin, Gazoline acoustique, Amantani and Philippe Brach—for their dedication and performances. We can guarantee it’ll be back next year!
Les Francos around the world
Thanks to the presence of some sixty foreign journalists and 40 media outlets, the Francos were front and centre for they eyes and ears of millions around the world: in France (France 3, Les Inrockuptibles, HitWest, Agence France Presse, RFI musique, Platine Musique, Le Point, La Croix, Télérama, Longueur d’ondes, La bande passante — RFI, Libération Voyages, FrancoSonik — Le Mouv’, RTL, Férarock, FrancoFans, Les Insouciants, FrancoMag, Votre tour du monde), the rest of Canada (National Post, Ottawa Citizen, BRBR — TFO, The Nation, Arrière-Scène — TFO), Belgium (Le Soir, Equinoxe FM), Germany (jennismusikbloqc), Morocco (Hit Radio), Switzerland (Afriqu’Écho, Fréquence Banane), the U.S (Mountain Lake PBS), CHina (RTHK radio 3) and Peru (Orbita Popular).
Les Francos on the airwaves
Pénélope McQuade, now a Francos regular, joined us live, virtually, from her program on Radio-Canada during the major free outdoor shows by Karim Ouellet and Pierre Lapointe. Other radio stations also broadcast live from our site: Rouge FM live from the Boîte Bell (in addition to broadcasting most of the shows from the Bell Stage at 7 p.m. and the Grande fête multiculturelle Hydro-Québec with Marco Calliari), BOOM FM, CISM (also broadcasting the 5 p.m. shows from Pub Rickard’s), as well as ICI Musique (Chants libres à Monique). The ladies of ICI Musique—Catherine Pépin and Catherine Pogonat along with Monique Giroux and Marie-Christine Trottier—even offered us two DJ sets live from the Bistro SAQ! SiriusXM also recorded the Éric Lapointe show, with ICI Musique doing the same for Pierre Lapointe, for later broadcast. Finally, Bell will film La symphonie rapaillée in the Grande soirée de clôture Bell, which we can all watch exclusively on the Bell Télé application as of July 2.
Click click click
With 252,494 visits and 1,503,322 page views, francofolies.com experienced serious growth and visibility, and the Francos have gone increasingly mobile with our new mobile site, added to the iPhone and Android applications—downloaded by almost 35,000 fans. Netizens also rediscovered a burgeoning multimedia section: in addition to videos of shows—80 video clips viewed 75,000 times on FrancosMontreal.TV and YouTube—they enjoyed forty exclusive interviews of artists participating in the Francos, from Vincent Vallières to Karim Ouellet, Corneille to Radio Radio, hosted by journalist and author Marie-Hélène Poitras. Once again this year, the Francos Facebook page recorded thousands of “Likes”, while the keyword #FrancosMTL was super-popular on Twitter and Instagram: in total, FrancoFolies Facebook and Twitter accounts racked up 30,000 interactions and over 13 million impressions during the festival! And let’s not forget that some of the biggest Francos moments sent shockwaves through social media. Despite the presence of the World Cup on social media, our Stromae shows landed in Montréal’s Twitter Top 10 trending topics. Finally, in addition to thousands of snapshots taken by our photographers and showcased on our site, attentive spectators witnessed the very first Brigade Instagram #FrancosMTL: approximately fifteen Francofous strolling the site, armed with cameras and smartphones, capturing the Francos from a different angle. The result? Magnificent action photos uploaded to social media, shared and Liked by over 12,000 subscribers!
An event of this magnitude simply could not exist without the essential support of our devoted partners, to whom we offer our heartfelt thanks: Bell, our official sponsor and presenter, and Ford of Canada, co-presenter of the event, as well as our public and private partners. We offer a huge thanks to the Gouvernement du Québec—Ministère du Tourisme, the Secrétariat à la région métropolitaine, the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications and SODEC. We also thank the Government of Canada—Economic Development Canada and Heritage Canada. Thanks also to the Ville de Montréal, Tourisme Montréal, MUSICACTION, the Fondation SOCAN, SACEM and the Fonds pour la Création Musicale, the Association France-Québec, the Gala de musique Tewekan at the Festival international de la chanson de Granby, the Festival Vue sur la Relève, Les Francouvertes, the Fondation Félix-Leclerc, Opération Détours de l’Adami, SACEF, Les Francofolies de Spa and Les Francofolies de La Rochelle.
A big thank you also goes to our sponsors, Loto-Québec, Molson Dry, the Société des alcools du Québec, Hydro-Québec, Mouvement des caisses Desjardins, SiriusXM, La Presse+, Air Transat, as well as our official suppliers, Hyatt Regency Montréal (official hotel of the Francos), Naya, complexe Desjardins, Pepsi, Élixirs, Häagen-Dazs, Jura, HMV and Fromages CDA inc. We would finally like to thank our media partners, Société Radio-Canada, MusiquePlus, MusiMax, ARTV, CKOI 96,9 FM, 98,5 FM, Radio Circulation, Rouge FM, BOOM FM, CIBL 101,5, Radio-Montréal, CISM 89,3 FM, Première Chaîne radio de Radio-Canada (95,1 FM Montréal), Espace musique (100,7 FM Montréal), Espace.mu and NIGHTLIFE.CA.
We invite you to join us next year, from June 12 to 20, 2015, for the 27th edition of the FrancoFolies de Montréal!
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