Last week, musician, label owner and prominent creators’ rights advocate Miranda Mulholland was in Washington, DC, for a series of meetings and engagements focused on what can be achieved in a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to ensure creators in Canada, Mexico, and the United States have a fair chance at success and receive proper payment for their work.
Miranda Mulholland and Stephen Exell, Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at ITIF
“From all the conversations I had in Washington, what really struck me was just how necessary the artists’ voices are on this issue. Whether Canadian, Mexican or American artists, we share the same need for strong and consistent IP protections. People in Washington are listening. We need to speak up now more than ever,” said Mulholland following the trip.
This was the second occasion that Mulholland, who is becoming increasingly well-know internationally for her advocacy work, has spoken to an American audience. In January of 2018, she participated in the inaugural Artists Rights Summit in Athens, Georgia.
On April 11, Mulholland delivered a speech at an event jointly organized by ACTION for Trade and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). More than 20 government and industry leaders attended the event which also featured a speech from Stephen Exell, Vice President for Global Innovation Policy at ITIF. Both speakers underlined the importance of strong IP protections and enforcement in NAFTA.
A post-event report by ACTION for Trade noted that “Mulholland spoke about how governments need to adapt policies to fit today’s landscape and protect creators’ work,” in particular that they must consider the “99 percent” of creators who aren’t mainstream superstars.
The day before the ACTION for Trade event, Mulholland visited Capitol Hill where she met with officials and stakeholders to discuss the need for action.
really honoured to be on capitol hill representing fellow creators on NAFTA, copyright and best practices. as ever – if you have any ideas or concerns please be in touch.
For more information on Mulholland’s advocacy work, visit the advocacy section of her website. You can also watch the full video of her outstanding 2017 speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Ottawa titled “Redefining Success in a Digital Marketplace” below.
Throughout March, Music Canada has been highlighting the ways our advocacy supports artists at every stage of their career, including our work on Music Education, Music Cities, and Copyright. As we head to Vancouver for the 47th Annual JUNO Awards, we now share our final instalment of the #EveryStage series outlining how Music Canada celebrates success of Canada’s artists and the music that resonates around the world.
Music Canada is proud to once again return as sponsor of the JUNOS Album of the Year category, as well as the Presenting Sponsor of the Chairman’s and Welcome Reception on Friday, March 23. With our sponsorship of the award, we join music fans across the country in celebrating the works from this year’s nominees – Arcade Fire, Ruth B, Shania Twain, Johnny Reid, and Michael Bublé – and congratulate the dedicated label and production teams involved with each release.
All of this year’s nominated Album of the Year releases have been officially certified through Music Canada’s Gold/Platinum program, which was launched in 1975 to celebrate milestone sales of music in Canada. The Gold/Platinum Certification & Awards Program provides a tangible recognition of national success for artists and their teams with our unique award plaques, who are often surprised with the plaques during tour stops throughout the country.
With over 17,000 albums, singles, digital downloads, ringtones, and music videos certified over the past 44 years, the program provides a unique historical record of popular music in Canada. Over the years, the certification sales criteria for Gold and Platinum records have reacted to market conditions, and are indicative of overall trends in the music industry. For example, we updated the program’s certification criteria in 2016 to begin accepting on-demand audio streaming towards new single certifications, and again in 2017 for albums. As with past updates, the current guidelines provide a more accurate reflection of Canadian music fans’ consumption habits, and has helped reward a new generation of Canadian and international artists who utilize these new digital platforms.
The Gold/Platinum Canada-branded certification announcements and award presentation photos are shared by thousands of fans across the world on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to help congratulate their favourite artists’ for success in our territory. In conjunction with the program’s social media presence and updated guidelines, Music Canada launched the Gold In Canada playlist in July 2017 on Spotify and Google Play, and updates the playlist every Thursday with 50 of the latest tracks across all genres earning the coveted Gold certification. In 2018, Music Canada curated three new all-Canadian playlists from the Gold/Platinum archives – Canada Vibes, Canada Rocks The 2000s, and Forty 45s – which are now available to stream across Apple Music, Spotify, and Google Play.
Arkells' debut album Jackson Square ('08) and sophomore effort Michigan Left ('11) are now officially certified Canadian Gold! Their third album High Noon ('14), featuring the Gold single "Leather Jacket," was the first certification for the Hamilton, ON band. #GoldInCanada
Music Canada also presents two awards annually at Playback, our annual industry dialogue and celebration. In 2017, Music Canada presented the inaugural Artist Advocate Award to Toronto-based artist, label owner, and activist Miranda Mulholland, in recognition of her outstanding advocacy efforts to improve the livelihoods of music creators.
Since 2015, Music Canada has also presented the President’s Award to an individual working outside the music community who displays a deep passion for music and the people who make it. In 2017, this award was co-presented to London Music Industry Development Officer, Cory Crossman, and Chris Campbell, Director of Culture and Entertainment Tourism at Tourism London, for their incredible commitment to making London, ON, a Music City. Their efforts helped the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences select London as the next host city for the 2019 JUNOS, which will be the first time the city will host the JUNO celebrations.
The 2018 JUNO Awards and portions JUNO Week events will stream live through CBC Music from Vancouver, BC, on Sunday, March, 25 at 8pm ET/5pm PT. Congratulations to all of this year’s nominees, and we look forward to celebrating another year of Canadian music with fans nationwide.
Music Canada is proud to return as a Platinum Partner of the 47th annual JUNO Awards in 2018, sponsoring both the Album of the Year category as well as the Welcome Reception, which is the official kickoff party to JUNOs weekend happening Friday, March 23rd in Vancouver.
Leading up to this year’s annual celebration of Canada’s brightest stars in music, Music Canada will be highlighting the ways in which our advocacy supports Canadian artists at every stage of their career. In the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of blogs detailing our research and advocacy efforts in four defined areas: music education, music cities, copyright, and celebrating success. To kick it off, we’ll start where most Canadians learn the fundamentals with music education.
One of the key recommendations in Music Canada’s Next Big Bang report, which identifies programs and policies designed to stimulate the development of Canada’s commercial music sector and to drive growth and job creation in the economy at large, is to enhance and invest in music education. The recommendation states:
Given the strong evidence that music education prepares workers who are more creative, better problem-solvers, and possess soft skills that are critical in the digital economy, as well as the correlation between music scenes and tech clusters, governments should invest more in music education and should consider music scenes as a tool for economic development.
This recommendation drives much of the advocacy undertaken by Music Canada to secure equitable access to quality music education for all young Canadians.
We are currently working with multiple provincial governments on various initiatives and strategies to meet this goal, and have been a long-time supporter of groups like MusiCounts and their efforts put more instruments into the hands of Canadian kids, as well as the Coalition for Music Education, promoting their efforts to improve the state of music education in Canada.
From a curriculum standpoint, music education falls under the mandate of provincial ministries, but municipalities also have a role to play in ensuring equitable access to music education for all Canadians. And the relationship is reciprocal, as music education also plays a role in the development of vibrant Music Cities.
Music education is present in successful Music Cities. Generally, it is understood to include formal music training in the education system, as well as specialized programs at colleges and universities. Not only do these programs help develop future musicians, but they develop appreciation for music at a young age, seeding future audiences. The many other benefits of learning and playing music are well documented and wide-ranging. These include enhancing children’s neural activity, language development, test scores, IQ and learning abilities.
One way that municipalities can promote music education is through a phenomenal program that has been popping up in cities across Canada – music instrument lending libraries. Public library branches in Barrie, Kitchener, Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and other cities now allow Canadians of any age to experiment with and learn new instruments free of charge.
We look forward to sharing more news in the near future on our work to promote and strengthen music education. Next in our series of blogs about how our advocacy supports artists at every stage of their career, we’ll dive deeper into Music Cities and how musicians can benefit from vibrant, actively promoted local music economies.
The march will take place along Bloor Street West, which is a new route for the annual family-focused march. Participants will depart from the Music Therapy Center (1175 Bloor St. W) at noon and will end at Lee’s Palace (529 Bloor St. W) around 1:15pm, where amazing entertainment, delicious food, fun activities, and tons of auction prizes await.
This year’s fundraising goal has been set to $25,000 in honour of the charity’s 25th anniversary, which works to enhance our communities by providing accessible music therapy to our nation’s most vulnerable and underserved populations.
The march is free to attend, while the after party at Lee’s Palace will be $25 at door unless the attendee has made a fundraising page. Those who would like to donate to the fund but cannot attend the event can do so at the same page. Stay tuned to the Facebook event page for more information on the afternoon, including the reveal of this year’s musical ambassadors and performers!
Sookman says that “our outdated legal frameworks” are a significant contributing cause of these challenges. He references Music Canada’s 2017 report The Value Gap: Its Origins, Impacts and a Made-In-Canada Approach, which shows that “the market value of music in Canada is still a fraction of what it once was, and equitable remuneration for access to music remains elusive.”
The report defines the Value Gap as the “significant disparity between the value of creative content that is accessed and enjoyed by consumers, and the revenues that are returned to the people and businesses who create it.”
As Sookman points out, the Value Gap is not only a problem for music creators. He says that most of Canada’s leading cultural industries are also affected, including journalism, television and film.
A coalition of author and publisher groups have documented the harm caused by the Value Gap to their sector, and in 2017 launched the I Value Canadian Stories campaign to urge Canadian lawmakers to “restore balance between the need to compensate our creators for educational copying and the need to promote access to quality content.” The campaign website notes that royalties to creators and publishers for copying of their works have declined by 80% since 2013.
Sookman concludes that, given the magnitude of this problem and the threat to Canada’s cultural industries, the issue, as well as practical solutions, “deserve the attention and support of Canadians.”
Music therapy charity Music Heals has revealed details for the 2018 edition of their annual A Night Out For Music Heals event, which invites bars, venues, nightclubs, pubs, and breweries across Canada to come together on one night (March 3, 2018) to support the organization’s initiatives.
Now in its sixth year, A Night Out For Music Heals takes place on the first Saturday of every March, and kicks off Music Therapy Awareness Month. The initiative raises funds and awareness for Canadian music therapy programs, with $1 from each patron at a participating venue donated to support music therapy programs across the country.
90 venues across Canada participated in 2017, helping raise over $19,900 for music therapy. The Vancouver-based organization hopes to see over 150 venues participating in 2018, and anticipates growth of international audiences as Music Heals spearheads the launch of the first ever World Music Therapy Day in March 2018.
Mulholland’s keynote topic was “Redefining Success in a Digital Marketplace.” Her speech highlighted the challenges for artists working in today’s digital age and proposed solutions to help create a more balanced music ecosystem in which creators can earn a living.
Mulholland’s speech was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from different cultural industries, who discussed how the digital marketplace has affected their industries and their individual careers. The panel, which was moderated by Vassy Kapelos, Global National’s Ottawa Bureau Chief and host of The West Block, included:
Mulholland began by observing “an extremely important anniversary in the lives of all creators” – the date the Copyright Modernization Act came into force, just over 5 years ago. Although Mulholland referred to the Act as a “landmark”, she acknowledged that it wasn’t perfect and “probably created as many problems for creators as it solved.” Fortunately, the legislation included a specific provision that mandates a review of the Act, 5 years to the day that it came into force. Unfortunately, that date passed two weeks ago, and creators are still waiting for the review to begin.
“I find this disappointing,” said Mulholland. She then spoke about her path to advocacy, referencing two conversations with Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, who told her “artists need to speak up” in the government’s “Canadian Content in a Digital World” consultations. Those conversations led directly to the founding of Focus On Creators, a coalition of more than 3,500 Canadian creators asking the government to put creators at the heart of future policy. Speaking of her previous speech at the Economic Club, Mulholland thanked MP Julie Dabrusin for raising some of the issues her keynote addressed in a meeting of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage. After noting that she is aware of the government’s increased funding for grants and export, Mulholland reiterated her call for a market that properly values their work: “the main message of creators, and what we’re trying to say, is that we want a functioning marketplace right here at home. We are here, and we’re speaking up. We’d love to be heard.”
After a brief recap of her artistic bona fides – violin training since age 4; studying Opera Performance at Western and McGill Universities; founding a record label and festival; performing as a member of Harrow Fair, Great Lake Swimmers, and performing on hundreds of recordings by artists such as Cowboy Junkies, Donovan Woods and Rose Cousins, as well as film & television work including CBC’s Republic of Doyle and the film Maudie; a member of the Soulpepper Theatre Company and the Board of Governors of Massey/Roy Thomson Hall – Mulholland acknowledged that she has a serious problem: “My problem is that because of this Broken Promise of a Golden Age, I’m barely able to make a living.”
Mulholland explained that when sharing her concerns with policymakers, the response that she is often given “is that creators are asking for the clock to be turned back… but that is not what we want. However, we do need to look back at the policies and promises that were made in the late 90s, and recognize that times have changed. My MySpace page doesn’t work anymore. If anything, we’d like to turn the clock forward and rethink some of these ideas and assumptions that have turned out to be false and predictions that have sadly not come to pass.”
After outlining some of the challenges that today’s artists face, including financial hardship and an increasing number of middlemen involved in distributing her music and collecting revenues, Mulholland pivoted from the solution often offered to creators expressing their concerns (“adapt”) to a key theme of her speech: Accountability.
“Let’s look at the current situation and who is accountable for the devaluation to which we are forced to adapt,” said Mulholland. “Accountability means acknowledging value and compensating for it.”
Mulholland called for accountability from digital services like YouTube, and showed why the often-proposed solution of live touring is not a panacea, or even feasible for many artists. Turning to solutions, Mulholland referred a pamphlet distributed with advocacy infographics, which are available on her website. Explaining that we all have a role to play in improving the music ecosystem, Mulholland identified steps that artists, consumers, industry members, and government can take to help ameliorate the current situation.
Mulholland urged the government to end tech company safe harbours: “The European Commission has now acknowledged that the market isn’t functioning properly, and they have identified and accepted the problem as the unintended Value Gap, and agreed that legal clarification is needed. Can we follow suit?”
She also called on the government to end other industry cross-subsidies, such as the Radio Royalty Exemption, “an industry cross-subsidy given to every commercial radio station in Canada, exempting them from paying more than $100 in royalties to artists and record labels on their first $1.25 million in advertising revenue,” said Mulholland. “The Exemption was introduced as a political compromise in the 1997 amendments to the Copyright Act, but it is now outdated and unjustified – if it ever was justified. It is really not right that artists and labels continue to subsidize these large media companies. I am subsidizing Bell.”
Mulholland then highlighted that due to the definition of sound recordings in the Copyright Act, recorded music is actually not considered a ‘sound recording’ (and thus not entitled to royalties) when it is included in a TV or film soundtrack. “This affects me greatly,” said Mulholland, “because for example, even though I played on almost every episode of CBC’s Republic of Doyle, which is now syndicated worldwide, I only received the one-time union rate I got per session, which was around $280, while the composer collects residuals every time that show airs. 44 countries around the world – the UK, France and Australia among them – afford performers and record labels the right to receive public performance royalties when their sound recordings are used as a part of a soundtrack in TV and film.”
Mulholland closed by stating “a culture of permission-less innovation” is what led to the current situation. With that, she referenced another anniversary – the two hundredth anniversary of Frankenstein. “Mary Shelley wrote this classic after witnessing the disastrous consequences of her industrial revolution,” said Mulholland. “The moral of her story is that monsters are created when the only question being asked is ‘Can I?’
We know what’s it has done to the livelihood of creators – it’s produced the Value Gap, and that is our monster.”
Thanks for coming everyone! Now, let’s get to work. Government was required to appoint or designate a committee two weeks ago. This did not happen. Creators are in crisis. That was @miramulholland’s message. Let’s act with urgency. https://t.co/KkTJ3pURDo
From where Team GDW sits, this is a huge point – we all benefit from a vibrant, diverse, talented creative community that's not determined solely by their ability to make huge amounts of money and create the biggest media splash. https://t.co/CK6BNseSK2
In August of 2017, Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister, Navdeep Bains, in conjunction with Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, announced the launch of consultations on reforming the Copyright Board of Canada. According to the government’s release, the goal of Copyright Board reform is to “enable creators to get paid properly and on time.”
The first letter was submitted on behalf of “Canadian musicians, independent label owners and creative entrepreneurs – at all stages of their careers” 100 of whom added their names. The letter states “While only part of our income comes from royalties collected by collective societies, the rates set by the Board directly impact the value of our music, and our ability to earn a living from it.” The letter specifically supports three options outlined in the consultation’s Discussion Paper and points out that while the role of the Board has evolved, “at the end of the day, the Board is valuing our work, and setting rates that affect our livelihoods.”
The second letter was submitted to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and in addition to the list of supporting names, is signed directly by Mulholland, Jim Cuddy, Alan Doyle and Joel Plaskett. It stresses the need for real and meaningful change at the Board, calling for tariffs to be set faster and more in line with market values, and also thanks the government for embarking on the long overdue reform process.
The Music Canada President’s Award is presented to an individual working outside the music community who displays a deep passion for music and the people who make it.
The recent past has been filled with many firsts and milestones for music in London, Ontario. The city hosted an incredibly successful Country Music Week and the CCMA Awards in September 2016; completed its first ever music census; has taken steps to modernize noise bylaws for music and dancing on outdoor patios; and on November 17, will host its first Music Career Day. Credit for these outstanding accomplishments is due not only to one individual, but two passionate community leaders.
At Playback 2017, Music Canada’s annual industry dialogue and celebration, London’s Music Industry Development Officer, Cory Crossman, and Chris Campbell, Director of Culture and Entertainment Tourism at Tourism London, were both presented with the 2017 President’s Award for their incredible commitment to making London a Music City.
Miranda Mulholland does it all. From running a record label and a music festival, to singing and playing fiddle in multiple acts, and even performing as a member of Toronto’s Soul Pepper Theatre Company, Miranda is the epitome of a multi-talented artist. On top of her artistic achievements, Miranda has emerged as a trailblazer in the global artists’ rights movement.
In recognition of her outstanding advocacy efforts to improve the livelihoods of music creators, Miranda Mulholland was presented with the inaugural Music Canada Artist Advocate Award at Playback 2017.
Watch Music Canada’s President and CEO, Graham Henderson, present Miranda Mulholland with the inaugural Music Canada Artist Advocate Award below.
Below is selection of photos of Miranda receiving the award.