Music is inspiration and eternity. Right now, most everyone is finding increasing appreciation of what music means to them. The importance of music is essential in pretty much everything we do; in all our circles we share and compare our love of music. Choice of music is an “everyone” element – it has no lens on what anyone chooses to enjoy; perhaps more than anything else, music bonds us and enlivens us.
President Obama in his book A Promised Land gives us a list of 20 songs that have been his inspiration…perhaps we should all have our own List of 20. Likelihood is, that over most of the past year, the importance and recognition of music has grown for us all – indeed, a fresh and invigorating importance to even those who had previously been ambivalent.
Excitingly, the enjoyment of live music is destined to return with even more vibrance than we appreciated before. The world is best enhanced by so many music makers – music is, unquestionably and demonstrably, a mainstay of humanity; furthermore, music, as a dimension in all our lives, is taking on a deeper meaning than ever before.
During 2020 – the year of vision – Music Canada was as committed as ever to meeting its mandate. In the early days of Spring, we tasked Music Canada to look out for those who were being hit hardest: artists and their crew members. Our timely commissioning of data analysis provided insightful information; endorsing our thoughts that music is important and vital to each and everyone of us – those who play, promote, listen, teach and make it.
Right now, and as ever, it is essential for Music Canada to provide support where it is most needed. Indeed, at any given time, we must focus on those in our industry whose situations are most precarious; we must focus on artists and crews that, at least for now, are the ones hardest hit.
I am proud of our vision, initiatives and our direction, as Music Canada evolves and develops, we will embrace the eternal importance that music is to us all – most importantly, to those who “make it”.
Jennifer M. Sloan
Board Chair, Music Canada
Over the last year we have been reminded of the power of music to uplift, connect and inspire, and of its importance to our wellbeing. In this website, we will look back on our work and accomplishments of 2020, and look forward to taking on new opportunities and tackling new challenges in 2021.
Around the world, 2020 presented new challenges; within the Canadian music industry, these began with the cancellation of JUNO Week 2020 in early March due to COVID-19. Traditionally this week would have provided opportunities for artists and the music community across the country to gather and connect, to perform and be honoured for their achievements. Instead, the Music Canada team came together to consider the role we could play as our industry adjusted to the pandemic, and our Board immediately tasked us with helping the most vulnerable across the music community.
Music Canada’s team has weathered the turbulence of this year with the help of our Board. Previous efforts to strengthen our Board positioned us positively to take on the challenges that have surfaced in the last year, as our organization has been elevated by our Board’s diverse and independent thought, and its inclusivity that is reflective of the music community. We are fortunate to have on our Board independent Chair Jennifer Sloan and independent Board member Farah Mohamed.
This support has allowed us to stay true to our purpose: to advocate for music and its creators and the value they bring into our daily lives, with the support of our Members, Sony Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada.
Like many organizations, we have had to adjust and remain flexible, a task that has been guided by our own Theory of Change, a principle that outlines our actions and pathways to drive change.
Our theory of change has concentrated our actions into distinct pathways allowing us to remain agile, while focusing on the challenges of the past months. These pathways include: working with industry stakeholders domestically and abroad to create unity, advocating to all levels of government for music and the interests of creators; as well as measuring and promoting the economic and cultural power of music.
In the early days of the pandemic, Music Canada was tasked by our Board with helping the most vulnerable across the music community. We started by measuring the impact that was being felt by those hardest hit, and commissioned industry-leading research on consumer appetite for returning to live music events. Throughout the year, we have worked closely with our industry and government partners so that we could provide the answers collected directly from the music community, to better advocate for, and clarify requirements on the direct financial support needed for individuals in the music industry who are not able to work.
Our Members have also acted quickly to support those in the music community in need of assistance. In April we announced direct financial support for the Unison Benevolent Fund, Canada’s leading music community support program.
“THE DIRECT AND VALUED EFFORTS FROM CANADA’S MAJOR RECORD LABELS ENSURED THAT WE COULD CONTINUE TO PROVIDE DISCREET COUNSELLING AND HEALTH SERVICES, IN ADDITION TO IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL RELIEF FOR THE MOST VULNERABLE IN OUR INDUSTRY AT THIS VERY CRITICAL TIME.”
– Unison Fund Executive Director Amanda Power
For decades, those opposed to robust copyright laws have argued that artists can make enough money from touring and merchandise sales — and so they don’t need copyright reform which ensures that they are paid when their music is played on radio, TV or film. We always knew they were wrong. A strong copyright framework that pays artists when their music is played is the global standard that Canada should be living up to.
And the COVID-19 pandemic has made all of this so much clearer. The pandemic has brought touring to a halt, hindered the direct connection between artists and fans, and left artists to figure out digital alternatives on their own. The entire music community would have benefited greatly from a fairer copyright framework at this time. That is why Music Canada will continue our efforts to support all proposals that make sure artists are paid when their music is played.
In November, Music Canada spoke of the need for copyright reform during an appearance before the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage as part of its comprehensive study on the challenges and issues faced by the Arts, Culture, Heritage and Sport sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Virtually the entire Canadian music industry asked that a few simple amendments be made to the Copyright Act to help ensure that artists are paid when their music is played,” said Patrick Rogers, interim co-CEO of Music Canada. “The report from this committee Shifting Paradigms provides a great roadmap to upholding that principle. I hope that this Committee and the Government will return to that work soon, because with the Pandemic eliminating opportunities to tour for artists – the fallacy that artists don’t need copyright protection has been exposed for the myth that it is,” said Rogers.
Music Canada and our members have recognized that Black artists and music industry professionals are a driving force in the success of the music sector, but their success and advancement within the industry has not been adequately supported. We remain committed to sustained action that supports the values of equity, diversity, and inclusion, and with our Members’ support, we are working on building greater, meaningful change for the Black community by partnering with ADVANCE, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective. Music Canada will also continue to invest in and empower our Advisory Council so they can help, through education and on the ground expertise that has never been more valuable.
As much of our attention continues to turn to online and virtual spaces, Music Canada has streamlined our website to make the information at our fingertips just as accessible to all members of the public. It’s one step in a series that our team is taking to adapt to the pandemic. A series of “COVID-19 Resources” were also made available on Music Canada’s homepage in the early days of the pandemic. We created this resource, and continue to update the information available, to help artists and industry members understand where to find support.
It is a privilege to lead this talented team, which is made up of hardworking people who have the best for our industry and our community in mind. As 2021 begins, we can foresee light at the end of the tunnel regarding the pandemic. The continuing roll-out of vaccines gives hope to the live music industry, which has been hit hard by COVID-19 and restrictions on in-person gatherings. Artists and the industry alike have worked hard to adapt to these challenges, and have developed innovative ways to reconfigure how they create, record, and perform music. While we are still a long way from a full recovery, Music Canada will continue to be there for artists, and to assist our industry partners throughout. There is reason for optimism as the world begins to look forward to a return to normal.
Yet, the second lockdown across Ontario, as well as lockdowns, and further restrictive measures across much of the country continues to impact artists and live music venues.
We know that the pandemic has caused serious, and likely irreparable harm to artists in Canada, and that long after other elements of the economy have reopened, artists, venues and support staff will require additional support. We are sharing resources with partners like the Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) as they continue their work to save live events. Government and public support will be necessary for this return.
Our research has made clear that people’s desire for live music is not disappearing. Canadians miss the live music experience and want to come back, and we know they will return to venues and shows when they feel comfortable. All levels of the music ecosystem must be protected, so that it’s ready for the public’s return. The music industry is the original gig economy industry and Music Canada will continue to work with our partners to iron out the details on protections offered to gig workers at every level.
As we approach a year of restrictions preventing the normal activities of artists, we are continuing to check in with them as their concerns for recovery are ongoing. Their voices and experiences have shaped our message to government, and industry partners, and they will help us to continue to find the support necessary for the music community’s recovery.
-Patrick Rogers, Chief Executive Officer of Music Canada
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on artists’ ability to perform, to create, and to earn a living from their music. In March, we released an Artist Impact Survey designed to gain a better understanding of how COVID-19 was initially impacting creators.
We followed up with a public opinion survey, conducted by Abacus Data back in May that assessed consumer attitudes about returning to live music events. Abacus then went back into the field in August, to release a second round of research showing that about 1 in 2 self-described “live music lovers” feel it will be 6 months or more, after government restrictions are lifted before they feel safe returning to festivals, small and large indoor venues, and similar locations.
Canadians want to get back to enjoying live music when it’s safe to do so. As the pandemic continued, our research found that self-identified “live music lovers” missed live music more than ever. 90% of respondents in this group said “I really miss going to concerts” – and 89% of this group agreed that digital content will never replace the feeling of seeing live music.
Our research demonstrates that the desire for live music is not going to just disappear. Canadians really miss the experience and want to come back, and we know they will return to venues and shows in time, when they feel comfortable with others around them.
At Music Canada, that means we need to protect all levels of the music ecosystem so that it’s ready when the public is ready to return. The music industry is the original gig economy industry. Music Canada will remain available to government partners to help iron out the details for relief offered to the music community.
Artists welcomed the government of Canada’s response to the pandemic, namely, the creation of the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) earlier this year. Music Canada sought key clarifications to the CERB program, to assist artists and those in the cultural industries facing uncertainty or regulations preventing a return to work. Artists earning less than $1,000 a month qualified for CERB, and were additionally supported when the formula was revised to exclude royalty payments from income calculations. Music Canada welcomes the government’s inclusion of those in the gig economy, and cultural workers who are specifically recognized in the most recent version of this fund.
Working with Canadian Heritage, as well as ADISQ and CIMA, Music Canada hosted a virtual town hall at the end of the summer. Artists, creators, and those across the industry shared their experiences with Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, on measures that will assist the music sector’s economic recovery. Music Canada has continued to work with the federal government on industry relief, and will remain available to iron out the details of these initiatives.
In early 2020 Music Canada held a roundtable bringing together Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries; industry leaders; and hosted by Gil Moore, musician and CEO of Metalworks Group in Mississauga. Participants included Chris Moncada, Senior Vice President, eOne Music/GM Last Gang Records; Patti-Anne Tarlton, COO Ticketmaster Canada; Steve Kane, President Warner Music Canada; Loreena McKennitt, Award Winning Recording Artist, and Label Owner; Miranda Mulholland, Artist, Music Label Owner and Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council; and Erin Benjamin, President & CEO at Canadian Live Music Association.
Following this roundtable, the Minister convened the Ontario Music Panel at the beginning of the pandemic. Music Canada contributed its data and resources to the panel, working to ensure the Minister and her team continue to have the facts they need to help the culture industries, artists and venues through the pandemic.
Working with the Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) and other key stakeholders, Music Canada also met with Ontario’s Finance Minister this fall. This meeting was pivotal in helping the government to better understand the challenges live music venues are faced with regarding insurance coverage due to COVID-19. The meeting was followed by an announcement from the Insurance Bureau of Canada that a new Business Insurance Action Team (BIAT) will help find insurance solutions for small businesses in Ontario’s hospitality sector.
“As the President and CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association, our ongoing collaboration with Music Canada has been critical. The research and advocacy efforts led by our organizations provides more than just an analysis of the biggest challenges facing the music industry. By working together, we are developing a road map to assist all live music stakeholders including venues, festivals, concert promoters, talent agents, managers, suppliers, artists and creators…everyone working in the live music space… so that performances can resume when it is safe, and so that everyone in this space can do what they do to earn a living again.”
-Erin Benjamin, President & CEO of Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)
Our work has also enabled us to engage on issues on an international stage. Music Canada has served as a thought leader within the global music industry and has, through our advocacy, acted as an agent of change on a number of important issues.
In September 2020, Miranda Mulholland — Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council and artist advocate — participated in the World Intellectual Property Organization’s important Global Digital Content Conference as part of a panel discussion. Mulholland spoke about the need for policy changes to ensure creators are compensated when their work is commercialized — a pressing issue that Music Canada has spent much time highlighting during this pandemic.
Congratulations also to our General Counsel, Richard Pfohl for his appointments as co-Chair of the Copyright Society’s International Chapter and as Copyright Rapporteur to the International Chamber of Commerce’s Intellectual Property Commission. These recognitions of his knowledge and contributions to the field of intellectual property are welcome as Richard leads the conversation on international copyright issues going forward.
Music is one of the most visible and highly recognized expressions of the Canadian experience. Our team are passionate advocates for music and those who create it.
Music Canada’s accomplishments are made possible with the efforts of our passionate and dedicated staff. Since the pandemic began, our team transitioned to working from home in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Along with our members, we have continued to work from home, and will continue to do so as long as is necessary to keep our team safe.
Learn more about our team in the slideshow below.
Reporting directly to the CEO, the Advisory Council is composed of 13 exceptional and passionate individuals, representing Canada’s vibrant and diverse music community.
The Council evaluates Music Canada’s progress against the stated goals and objectives in the association’s annual strategic plan. The Council also advises Music Canada on its programs, activities and research to support the organization in its mandate as an agent of change and thought leader in the music community.
Meet the Music Canada Advisory Council members here:
ShoShona Kish is an Anishinabekwe community organizer, producer, activist, songwriter and JUNO award-winning touring artist. This year ShoShona was recognized for her work internationally with the prestigious “ Professional Excellence Award ” from the WOMEX organization “for her role in the ongoing revolution of upheaving indigenous communities and their culture – using the medium of music as an agent of change, to awaken our humanity and help us connect”.
ShoShona leads the multi-award-winning band Digging Roots, with her husband, Raven Kanatakta. Their music breaches categorization, seamlessly blending global and traditional Indigenous sounds with roots-rock, blues, and trip-hop. They have brought their unique musical marriage of unvarnished truth and unconditional love to venues and festivals around the world.
Like her music, ShoShona defies societal norms, constantly subverting any attempts to put her in a box. She is guided by both curiosity and purpose, openly exploring topical, inspirational and often uncomfortable issues, treating music as a call to action.
ShoShona serves as President on the Board of Directors for Folk Music Canada and is the Chair and founder of the Indigenous Music Advisory Circle and Music Canada’s Advisory Council. This year she has partnered with the International Folk Alliance to host the first International Indigenous Music Summit.
She is an on-air contributor to CBC Radio’ s national arts and culture magazine q and was the host of the 2018 Maple Blues Awards and the National Arts Centre’s celebration of Indigenous women in music Anishinabekwe. As an artist and curator, she has collaborated on a wide range of projects at home and abroad with the likes of Canada’s National Art Centre, the Women of the World Festival and the Sydney Opera House.
Music industry veteran Chris Topping leads Steady Go – managers of artists, events and activations.
About Steady Go:
We are producers of concerts, festivals and award shows.
We are promoters of artists and brands.
We love artists and the people and companies supporting them.
We work with some of the greatest brands in the business and we make them look good!
We are a music industry services company with more than two decades of fulfilling and unforgettable experience in every aspect of the music business.
With the help and guidance of our Advisory Council, Music Canada launches new initiatives aimed at amplifying the music ecosystem and addressing its socio-economic challenges each year. This year our initiatives focused on serving the most vulnerable members of our music community.
Building on Music Canada’s Board Diversity Policy work in previous years, and fulfilling our commitment to be a thought leader and agent of change with respect to business and social issues impacting the music community, Music Canada launched a special project with the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. The project will identify equity and representation challenges within the Canadian music community and develop tools that support industry organizations in implementing needed reforms. Recognizing the need for real and meaningful change for BIPOC members of the music community, we have forged a new partnership with ADVANCE, Canada’s Black Music Collective. Our continued and long-standing partnerships, including with Women in Music Canada, have enabled our organization to promote diversity and inclusion in the wider music community.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created new sets of challenges for artists to sustain their livelihood through music. To respond, Music Canada partnered with CONNECT Music Licensing to launch a new initiative targeting artist-entrepreneurs and convened a cross-section of artists and industry leaders to inform the development of artist-friendly tools and resources. In September, we launched the Industry Insider video series hosted by Toronto-based artist Domanique Grant. Through unique and concise interviews, the series answers artists’ most commonly asked music business questions and offers advice on how to prepare for an effective pivot in the post COVID-19 music economy.
2020 marked the 45th year of Music Canada’s Gold/Platinum certification & awards program, and the year kicked off with award plaque presentations to artists like JP Saxe, Julia Michaels, Gallant, Tenille Townes, Bleu Jeans Bleu, and The Lumineers.
As award plaque production halted in March from the COVID-19 shutdown, label teams innovated and transitioned to digital celebrations, resulting in one of the most unique and innovative years of the program’s history.
In April, Aaron Goodvin (Winner, 2018 CCMA Songwriter of the Year) was surprised with a virtual Gold plaque for his hit “You Are” over a Zoom call with his Warner Music Canada team, while Universal Music Canada/Big Machine artist Carly Pearce shared her surprise team Zoom call to announce the Gold certification for the Lee Brice duet, “I Hope You’re Happy Now.” In June, country star Brett Kissel became the first artist to be presented with an award plaque at a drive-in concert. During one of his 8 sold-out shows in the parking lot of Enoch, Alberta’s, River Cree Resort and Casino, Kissel announced to his fans that “Airwaves” had been officially certified Platinum in Canada, which fans celebrated with a chorus of honks from their socially distanced vehicles. As the summer came to a close, Sony Music Canada/Hard 8 rising artist Tate McRae shared the news of her first Gold-certified hit “One Day” on Instagram, sharing a photo of her new plaque with her 1.3 million followers accompanied by an intimate performance clip with the plaque hanging in the background.
At the core of this historic industry program are the artists. Along with the regular celebrations of artists milestone achievements throughout the year, Gold/Platinum Canada has used its social media platforms to call out to music fans and signal three significant ways artists can be supported as they deal with the economic, and career impacts of COVID-19. Gold/Platinum Canada will continue to use its platform to encourage support, recognition, and consideration for artists as the pandemic continues.