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Canada’s creative industries to host Thought-Leadership Event on 2017 Copyright Act review in Ottawa

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UPDATE – NOV 30, 12:54PM: Due to extreme weather, this event had been postponed to a future date.  Further updates will be provided when available.

Ottawa, ON – November 30, 2016:  Creative industries that rely on the Copyright Act are holding a thought leadership event today in Ottawa in preparation for the upcoming government-mandated review of the Act in 2017.

Creators and rights holders in the music, book-writing and newspaper sectors will convene with Members of Parliament and decision-makers in Ottawa. The event is intended to unite Canada’s major cultural sectors as they discuss how legislative, program and policy improvements can help their industries grow and prosper in the digital age.

The rules governing the digital environment were established twenty years ago, with the intent of supercharging the digital marketplace – to be a boon to both creators and the public. But the reality is that within the span of a single generation, the creative middle class has virtually ceased to exist.

Independent artists earned an average of $7,228 per year from music-related activities in 2011; not nearly enough to allow them to pursue a music career full-time. Taking inflation into account, writers made 27 percent less in 2015 than they did in 1998 from their writing. With average writers’ revenues that fall below the poverty line, the Writers’ Union of Canada says that writers will increasingly abandon their craft for other employment. The average income of a playwright in Canada, in 2004, was less than $10,000.

On November 29th, a joint letter addressed to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, urged the government to put Canada’s creators at the heart of our cultural policy. The letter was signed by nearly 1,100 Canadian musicians, songwriters, composers, music producers, authors, poets, playwrights, film composers, actors, directors, visual artists and other members of the creative class.

The letter is sure to be a topic of discussion at the event, as Canada’s cultural industries further unite to ensure our creators can continue to tell Canadian stories to the world and global stories to Canadians. Music Canada will be live-streaming the event, so please look out for the video link on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Canada’s creative industries join together to form Focus On Creators coalition, release joint letter to Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly

focus-social-facebookA growing list of nearly 1,100 musicians, authors, songwriters, composers, music producers, poets, playwrights, film composers, actors, directors and other members of the creative class have signed a joint letter addressed to the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, urging the Canadian Government to put creators at the heart of our cultural policy.

The impressive list of signatories on the letter includes Alanis Morissette, Brett Kissel, Blue Rodeo, Gord Downie, Gordon Lightfoot, Grimes, Metric, The Sheepdogs, Marie Claire Blais, Rudy Wiebe, Guy Gavriel Kay, Sharon Pollock, Daniel David Moses, Mary Vingoe, Garth Richardson, Gary Barwin, Alice Major, Maureen Hynes and many more.

The following is a passage from the joint letter:

The carefully designed laws and regulations of the 1990s were intended to ensure that both Canadian creators and technological innovators would benefit from digital developments. We hoped that new technology would enrich the cultural experiences for artists and consumers alike. Unfortunately, this has not happened. Instead, our work is increasingly used to monetize technology without adequately remunerating its creators. Income and profit from digital use of our work flow away from the creative class to a concentrated technology industry.  Allowing this trend to continue will result in dramatically fewer Canadians being able to afford to “tell Canadian stories,” much less earn a reasonable living from doing so.

Canadian creators are encouraged to add their names to the letter on the initiative’s website, www.focusoncreators.ca, to help send this important message to policymakers in Ottawa.

The Focus On Creators coalition was formed to bring focus to the artists’ perspective in light of some major federal cultural policy activities, including the Canadian heritage review, and the upcoming Copyright Act review in 2017. These activities present a timely opportunity to re-establish a fair working environment for creators.

Focus On Creators has widespread support from Canada’s creative industries. The initiative’s supporting partners are:

  • Music Canada
  • The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA)
  • The Writers’ Union of Canada
  • The League of Canadian Poets
  • The Canadian Music Publishers Association
  • The Playwrights Guild of Canada
  • The Canadian Country Music Association

On November 30, 2016, creators and rights holders in the music, book-writing and newspaper sectors will convene with Members of Parliament and decision-makers in Ottawa for a Thought Leadership Event hosted by industries that rely on the Copyright Act. The event is intended to unite Canada’s major cultural sectors as they discuss how legislative, program and policy improvements can help their industries grow and prosper in the digital age. Music Canada will be live-streaming the event. Look out for the link on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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Music Canada’s Graham Henderson speaks to the Economic Club of Canada on “The Broken Promise of a Golden Age”

On November 1, Music Canada’s President and CEO, Graham Henderson, delivered a moving address to the Economic Club of Canada on the erosion of creators’ rights in the digital age, and what can be done to re-establish a fair working environment.

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Canada’s cultural industries were well represented with attendees from Sony Music Canada, Warner Music Canada, Universal Music Canada, The Motion Picture Association of Canada, the Writers’ Union of Canada, SOCAN, CIMA, CMPA, The Screen Composers Guild of Canada, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, Canada’s Walk of Fame, Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Re:Sound, and TD Music. Guests from Ryerson University, OCAD, Humber College, CGC Education, Colleges Ontario, and York University represented the education sector. MPPs Monte McNaughton, Lisa MacLeod, Rick Nicholls, Lisa Thompson and Steve Clark were also in attendance.

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We were happy to have been joined by local musicians as well, including Miranda Mulholland, Amanda Martinez, Caroline Brooks of the Good Lovelies, Murray Foster, Alysha Brilla, Jay Douglas, Sonia Aimy, and Sally Shaar of Ginger Ale & The Monowhales.

The Economic Club of Canada’s President and CEO, Rhiannon Traill, who took on the role five and a half years ago with vision and passion, introduced Graham’s address. Rhiannon thanked Graham for the support he has shown for the Economic Club of Canada and for her as President and CEO, and praised Graham as a champion for Canadian culture.

“You’re about to hear a very important speech, and I am really, really proud to be hosting it,” she said. “Graham is an advocate, he is an innovator, he is a collaborator, a bridge builder, a visionary, and a truly great Canadian dedicated to advancing and protecting our country’s music, arts, and culture.”

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Below is the full video of Graham’s speech, titled The Broken Promise of a Golden Age: How creators got squeezed out in the digital era, and what can be done to restore their rights.

Graham’s address was followed by powerful remarks by Miranda Mulholland, who shared her personal experiences to shed light on just how dire things have become for creators trying to earn a living from their work in Canada. Miranda really drove home Graham’s message – we must fight to restore the rights of our creators, who bring such livelihood, spirit and identity to our country.

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Miranda is an accomplished violinist, singer, and label owner of Roaring Girl Records, which represents many JUNO and Grammy award winners. She’s a member of Great Lake Swimmers, Belle Starr, and the recently formed Harrow Fair. She has played or sung on over 75 albums, including JUNO nominated and award winning albums.

By all metrics she is an accomplished and respected musician, but in a very open manner, laid out the financial reality for creators in Canada.

“This is embarrassing, and I will level with you. I can barely afford rent in a city that I need to live in to work,” said Miranda. Musicians have had to become entrepreneurs, and experts in many fields, just to get by in the digital age. “I’ve had to get used to being a marketer, a promoter, a data entry clerk, a driver, a travel agent, a social media expert, and a paralegal, just in order to make a living as a singer-songwriter violinist. This is our new reality.”

Miranda and Graham agreed that we’ve reached a crisis point, and we cannot accept the argument that there’s nothing we can do to change current circumstances. We must fight for our creators, and we owe it to them to restore balance to the world in which they live.

Below is a selection of tweets from the event:

https://twitter.com/monowhales/status/793499575910797312

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Speech: Graham Henderson at the Economic Club of Canada – “The Broken Promise of a Golden Age”

The following is the full text of a speech delivered by Music Canada’s President and CEO, Graham Henderson, to the Economic Club of Canada on November 1, 2016.

Back in 2003, a famous Canadian recording artist had this to say when he was asked about his prospects in the new digital economy: “we are entering a golden age, a golden age.” This was an idea embraced by artists, the media, pundits, professors and most importantly, policy makers around the globe.

The reason for this heady optimism was the seismic events which were then unfolding in the online distribution and consumption of creative content. Peer-to-peer file sharing had become the default way for people to access virtually unlimited music for free, and the iPod had taken mobile digital music into the mainstream.

The artist who praised the unfolding of this golden age believed that the digital era would usher in a utopia for both musicians and the consumer. Artists would gain access on the Internet to a larger audience than ever before, and in return for the collapse of their traditional marketplaces, they would make more money from the sale of concert tickets, merchandise and other means. This was an epic leap of faith with virtually everything riding on one thing – the promise of digital technology.

The passage of time has instructed us that we might have benefited from a judicious skepticism, that we might have done well to have questioned the extraordinary promises and prognostications that were being made at the time. Had we done so, I wonder if the world in which we now live would have the characteristics that it does – a world in which the creative middle class, within the span of a single generation, has virtually ceased to exist.  A world in which artists struggle more than ever before to earn a living wage and put food on the table. As they transition to the world of the self-employed “entrepreneur”, they are working longer hours and are sometimes engaged in activities for which they have little aptitude, such as data entry clerks – all for scandalously less money.

Jaron Lanier is an author, composer, computer scientist and, some say, the father of virtual reality. He is concerned about the challenges facing creators. In a recent edition of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s magazine, Lanier concluded that, “We have seen an implosion of careers and career opportunities for those who have devoted their lives to cultural expression. … Opportunities are rare compared to the old-fashioned middle-class jobs that existed in great numbers around things like writing, photography, recorded music and many other creative pursuits.”

Here in Canada, our creators, the people who build our nation’s cultural foundation and much of the intellectual property we export – are struggling, and along with them the people and businesses who support their work are struggling. Well paid jobs with benefits are disappearing and being replaced by precarious employment.  Culture today, more than at almost any time in our history, is dependent on the largesse of the government.

One of the most deeply unpleasant aspects of the past 20 years has been the manner in which the gutting of the creative class, and now an entire way of life (think of youth being told they must accept a world of precarious employment), has been presented as an inevitability. At a recent round table, I sat beside a young entrepreneur who was beside himself at the idea that the Minister of Heritage was having hearings on the digital economy. For him, it was a pure and simple case of the “horse being out of the barn.” There was no turning back the clock, and no point belabouring the issue – “we’re done. This is the world we live in.”

Today I want to question that supposition. The idea that we cannot change the circumstances in which we live seems to be, dismayingly, widely held. I believe this outlook is founded on a sort of market-driven, hyper-capitalism, a debased and absolutist form of economic, technological determinism. Ayn Rand would love this; it is a sort of libertarian fantasy: the market determines how we live our lives and governments need to get out of the way – and that means us, the people. But let’s remember that we live in a social democracy – we live in a place where the people, not corporations, and not plutocrats, get to decide how to order their lives.

We must (and I include our government policy makers here) harness our imaginations. We cannot look at the world and see it only as it is. We have to be able to see it as it might and should be. And frankly, creators are really good at doing that.

Creators for centuries have fought and in some cases died to change the worlds in which they lived. Oppressive forms of employment were ameliorated; people, not corporations, gave us universal healthcare – because PEOPLE decided that THAT was the way they wanted to live their lives.

We are inheritors of this great tradition. And we can deploy it to restore the balance. Minister Joly, for example, as part of her cultural consultations, has asked us to think outside the box, to be bold and to think big. Well, one way to do that is to ignore the conventional wisdom that tells us: this is the way it has to be. And that is what I hope to do today.

But first, let’s look at how we in the creative community got to where we are today.

The foundation for most of the rules and regulations which govern our modern digital environment are two treaties adopted by the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1996: The WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

To help us better appreciate the magnitude of the task the negotiators of those treaties faced, we need to understand what the world looked like at that time. This was a world in which digital technologies – and their adoption by consumers – were in their infancy.

In 1996, less than 1% of the world’s population was online. If you were one of the few, it was via a dial-up modem that delivered websites at the rate of 30 to 60 seconds a page. You searched the 100,000-odd websites using AltaVista or Yahoo – Google wouldn’t launch for another two years.

In 1996, email had yet to surpass the U.S. Postal Service in terms volume of messages delivered. Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill was the world’s top selling album – though fans were more likely to purchase it from a mail-order club than an online retailer.

After the adoption of the WIPO treaties, it would be a full two and a half years before Napster appeared. It was four and a half years before the introduction of the iPod (2001), six years before the advent of the Blackberry “smartphone”, eight years before the first video was uploaded to YouTube and over a decade before the first song was streamed on Spotify.

The people setting the rules for our world were well-intentioned and clever; but the reality is that they were guessing. Now there is nothing wrong with guessing. We all make educated guesses on which we base our actions.  But the beauty of our world is that with the passage of time and the accumulation of experience, we have the luxury of reassessing our situation, and adapting our behaviours when those first guesses clearly turn out to have been ill-founded. We have now had 20 years of experience with those early WIPO guesses.  How are we doing?

Well, the preambles to these treaties give us an idea of what WIPO wanted to do. The people who drafted the Copyright Treaty, told us that it was designed to (1) recognize the profound impact of the development and convergence of information and communication technologies on the creation and use of literary and artistic works, (2) emphasize the outstanding significance of copyright protection as an incentive for literary and artistic creation, and (3) recognize the need to maintain a balance between the rights of authors and the larger public interest.

These are laudable goals.  But very clearly everything would come down to the question of balance. If balanced correctly, the new rules would supercharge the digital marketplace – a boon to both creators and the public.

But very quickly, fissures began to appear. Technology advocates and so-called intermediaries argued that in order for the new technological infrastructure to get off the ground, creators were going to have to give up something to get something. What they would give up would be copyright payments that would otherwise have been required under the pre-WIPO rules: exceptions would be created.  In return, creators would benefit from a larger, more diverse marketplace.  So-called “middle men” would disappear.  All manner of economic miracles would take place. It would be win-win.

So when the first major country to implement the WIPO Treaties, the US, did so in 1998, the intermediaries and other technology companies insisted on a quid pro quo:  a series of “safe harbours” from liability.  These safe harbours were codified in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and subsequently served as a template to legislators around the world. Almost every exception excused someone from making a payment to a copyright owner that they would otherwise have had to make. But there was also a social quid pro quo that was articulated over and over and over again: creators would be better off.  In my view this amounted to more than a bargain, more than an article of faith: it was a social contract. A bargain which very quickly turned Faustian; a social contract that is now in a shambles.

The French economist Olivier Bomsel was among the first to call this arrangement out for what it was – a massive system of cross-subsidies. By foregoing money otherwise payable to them, the creative community would subsidize the development of the technology infrastructure.

Up to this day, much of the policy-making regarding copyright law continues to be driven by the popular mythology that digital technologies and platforms produce lucrative new opportunities for the creative economy.

Until very recently, however, the hypothesis that digitization and the Internet would unleash a Golden Age for the creative economy had not been adequately put to the test. Music Canada decided to address this information gap by commissioning an independent analysis to measure the impact of digitization on the creative economy.

The author of this study is Dr. George Barker, Director of the Centre for Law and Economics at Australian National University, and currently a visiting fellow at the London School of Economics. His paper examines the data on the effect of digitization and the Internet on among other things, Canadian music industry sales.

The paper seeks answers to the questions, “Have digital technologies and the Internet –together with the copyright liability exceptions adopted to spur them — spawned a Golden Age for creative content?”, and “Has the need for intellectual property protection fallen in light of these benefits?”

The answer to both questions, according to Dr. Barker, is no. His study found that digital technologies and the Internet were associated with sharply reduced demand, prices and sales, and consequently, to lower investment and employment.

The evidence he cites overwhelmingly supports this finding, and here are but two examples from music:

  • Globally, music sales fell about 70% in real terms between 1999 and 2013.
  • In Canada from 1997-2015, music revenues fell to 20 percent of what they would have been had they kept pace with inflation and real GDP growth – a modest expectation, to say the least.  This resulted in a cumulative revenue gap of over 12 and-a-half billion dollars.

Put another way, over 12 and-a-half billion dollars that would have gone to artists and rights holders simply disappeared. Most remarkably, this happened at a time when music consumption rose to record levels.

As music was gaining in value and use to the consumer, its value to the creator was going into sharp decline.

Francis Gurry, the Director General of WIPO, decried this phenomenon, concluding that the migration of creative works from analog formats and physical distribution to digital technology and internet distribution had been accompanied by an “avoidable and inappropriate loss of value to creators, performers and the creative sector.”

At least for musicians, a key component of the social contract was that while the market for the sale of music might decline, new and different income sources would arise.  Infamously, this came to be associated with the idea that touring and merchandise income would supplant the sale of music products.  It has not. If there is a Golden Age, it has eluded a new generation of musicians.

It comes as no surprise then that, in 2011, the average artist in Canada earned about $7,200 per year from music-related activities, according to a 2013 study conducted for the Canadian Independent Music Association. This reflects the sharp erosion of the ability of artists, especially young ones struggling to build a career, to earn a living from their creative work.

As alternative income sources failed to appear, a new and offensive concept has appeared: the idea that creators have an inner compulsion to create, and that remuneration is not integral to the creative impulse – an idea which reached its nadir in Amanda Palmer’s remark that musicians would be happy to perform with her for “beer and hugs”.

Musicians aren’t the only creators feeling the pinch. According to a 2015 survey by the Writers’ Union of Canada authors are earning 27% less from their craft than they did in 1998, after taking inflation into account.

The survey also found that median net income from writing was less than $5,000 and the average income was about $12,900 – far below the average Canadian income of $49,000. More than 80% of writers earn an income from their writing that is below the poverty line!

Creators are not alone in their struggle to stay afloat in the new economy. Taking a broader view, British economist Guy Standing argues that technologies are disrupting the way income and earnings are distributed. In his new book, “The Corruption of Capitalism,” Standing describes the appearance of a new “rental wedge” “between profits, which are growing, and ever more concentrated, and wages, which are falling and ever more uncertain.”

The “Precariat,” as he calls the new social class, is “defined by the insecurity and instability of the work it performs.” He identifies them as “Uber drivers, millennial interns, part-time lecturers and the cleaners and couriers of the ‘gig economy’.”

Creators belong on this list as well – as its charter members, I would argue. I have heard corporate executives and government policy makers discuss the “gig economy” in almost breathless terms – invariably the people extolling its virtues have full time jobs with benefits and pensions.  They have no IDEA how desperate life in the gig economy can be. Musicians know.

All of this is taking place in an environment in which music is generating fabulous amounts of money. It is just that, as Gurry points out, very little of it seems to be finding its way on to the creators’ side of the ledger.

Part of the problem has to do with how people are consuming music online.  There are two principal methods – subscription and ad-supported.  It is the latter — ad-supported, on-demand music services such as YouTube and SoundCloud — that have driven most of the increase in digital music consumption. But those services deliver far less revenue than paid services.

A subscription service, such as Spotify for example, returned $18 (US) a year per consumer in 2014 — compared to YouTube’s $1. Ad-supported services, with more than 13 times more users than paid services, delivered less than one-third as much money to artists and other rights holders.

The effect of this gaping disparity is that overall digital music revenue growth has lagged far behind consumption.

This disparity has been dubbed the “Value Gap” – which we define as “the gross mismatch between the volume of music being enjoyed by consumers and the revenues being returned to the music community.”

So where to from here? What can be done to restore the creative middle class and level the playing field?

As I noted when I began, we are fortunate in Canada to live in a well-functioning social democracy. We can make choices about the type of society we live in, and collectively, through our political representatives, we can take action.

Music Canada is among those now calling for reforms. But the entire creative community, here in Canada and around the world, is speaking up.

The Writers’ Union views the situation we face as nothing less than “a cultural emergency for Canadians.”

“If we want a strong and diverse publishing and cultural industry, it is essential that creators are reasonably and fairly compensated,” it argues. “If writers continue to be compensated … at these low rates it will inevitably become impossible for professionals in the field to earn a living.”

This year in Europe and the US, thousands of artists have petitioned their governments to address the value gap and rebalance the rules.  Expect more of the same, very soon, in Canada.

There is very clearly a call to action – so what should this action look like?

Well for a start, any approach to the problem should be holistic and multijurisdictional.

Music Canada has been aggressively opening new channels to do this. For example, we have been taking the message to municipalities that they can implement simple, straightforward local policies to improve the business environment for creators and the businesses that support them.

Music Canada identified these options in our 2015 Music Cities report. The report has gone viral all over the world.

The idea of local governments creating music cities, and mayors running on pro music platforms, would have been ridiculous just a few years ago. Yet today nine municipalities of various sizes across the country have Music Cities strategies in place. And more are coming.

Municipalities are taking these steps because they understand that the benefits are worth the effort. For example: job creation, economic growth, tourism development, city brand building, artistic and cultural growth. Strong music scenes have also been proven to attract other business investment along with talented young workers who put a high value on quality of life, no matter what their profession is.

At the provincial level, Ontario and BC are trailblazers, having created music-friendly programs that are almost unique in the world, with substantial music funds and music-friendly policies such as red tape reduction strategies to facilitate live music performances.

For her part, Minister Joly has been crisscrossing the country, asking people to think big, to be ambitious and to step outside the box.

So let’s think about that. How CAN the federal government get involved? How can it innovate and, like Ontario and BC, blaze a new trail? The government has made it clear that it wants a new toolkit to confront the challenges facing Canada’s creators, that it seeks a new social contract.

It has four levers in its toolkit: legislation, program funding, policies and treaties, and institutions. Here are some thoughts about how those levers might be pulled to benefit our creative community.

Legislation

This one is simple.  End all the cross-subsidies paid by creators. Now.

The businesses that benefit from these cross-subsidies have become wealthy beyond imagination over the years. The goal initially was to get them off the ground. Job done. The creative community has been making its contribution for two decades. It’s payback time.

Policies and Treaties

First, I’d like to applaud the federal government on signing the CETA agreement with the European Union. This treaty contains provisions that will encourage the creation of intellectual property assets.   The production of these assets results in a double dividend for our country – 1) they are material assets, which are owned by Canadians and are exportable, and 2) they are cultural – assets which allow us to tell our story to the world.  More of this please!

Second, I note that Ontario, BC and municipalities across Canada are all designing policies to attract foreign direct investment in the domestic music economy.  The federal government would do well to heed those examples, and pitch in with supportive policies of its own.

Third, Canada is home to one of the most vibrant live music scenes in the world. Provinces and municipalities are awake to the music tourism opportunities this presents. This is an easy one Ottawa:  tell the rest of the world what a brilliant destination we are for music tourism; market music! Brand Canada as one of the greatest live music scenes in the world, and brag about it!

Program Funding

Canada currently boasts an enviable system of programme funding for music. But that funding needs to keep pace with inflation as well as the changing realities of the marketplace and creators’ lives. I have repeatedly urged the government to pay attention to how the lives of creators have changed. For example, in a globalized market, developing export opportunities is critical for them. So? Spend money on the Trade Routes programme – a LOT of money; earmark some of it for music.

Next, artists’ incomes have cratered. What could that mean? Well, how about the fact they can’t afford homes. Housing affordability has become an increasingly urgent issue for them. The federal government should seriously examine this issue in the context of cultural infrastructure.  And by the way, Ontario? Get with that as well … cultural infrastructure has to be part of your infrastructure spending.

Musicians used to be surrounded by a universe of enablers and supporters. They are gone with the ecosystem, gone with the money. Musicians are now more-often-than-not micro businesses, sole proprietors, entrepreneurs. Has any thought been given to a programme to fund skills and entrepreneurial training?

Institutions

Here, the federal government has already taken positive steps such as increasing funding for the CBC and the Canada Council for the Arts. During her recent consultations, Minister Joly made the point that the government is looking to go in new and bigger directions. She looked back to an era in which the CBC, the CRTC and the Canada Council had been created.

First, one institution that needs to be repaired is the Copyright Board of Canada. I’m actually flying tomorrow to hearings that are being conducted by the Senate into the operation of the Copyright Board of Canada. That is first on our list of institutions I would encourage the government to modernize, and to turn it into a true business development office for the creative industries.

But here’s a really big idea. Right across the country music education is in jeopardy. Increasingly, the students with access to music education are from more affluent communities. Inner city youth, remote, rural and indigenous communities are getting shut out. But it is not just music, it is the liberal arts in general that are at risk.

We need to reconnect our young people with the importance of a liberal arts education, with the importance of creativity. One of the things we’ve seen is an erosion of respect for the creative process. Rebuilding respect for the humanities will assist us in rebuilding our shattered framework.

The federal government needs to exercise a leadership role because this is a national issue of national importance.  The federal government already supports a programme like this – focused on science.  It is fantastic and connects young people with the importance of a science education.  If Science then, why not Humanities?  I urge the Department of Heritage to convene an expert panel to consider this issue and to establish a permanent National Humanities Council.

CONCLUSION

I will offer a sort of coda at this point.  One of the questions being asked by the Minister of Heritage is “how can the government use content to promote a strong democracy?” This got me thinking about the intimate connection – throughout history – between creators and democracy. Poets, film-makers, and novelists have always played an essential role in the fight for democracy and civil rights.  Here in Canada we have an immediate example at hand, Gord Downie’s Secret Path. But to his name we can add Pete Seeger, Solzhenitsyn, Vaclav Havel, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Fela Kuti and many, many more. These are all people who were banned, exiled or jailed for their fight for justice and democratic principles.

It is instructive, is it not, that after the revolution in Czechoslovakia, the people turned not to a strongman but to a playwright. A playwright whose velvet revolution had been powered by illicit tapes of Lou Reed’s band, The Velvet Underground.

As you may have heard when you entered the room, our background music was a selection of protest songs.  That has been one of music’s great contributions to our world: music and protest anthems have been associated with just about every social change for decades.  I’ve put a Spotify playlist together which you’ll find at your seat.

Our creators are truly, as Shelley famously said, “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”  Now when he says they are legislators, he doesn’t mean they’re lawyers, he doesn’t mean they’re necessarily politicians. What I think he is saying is that creators predict our future, they underpin our future, and they create a framework (political AND cultural) for our future. To the extent we allow those voices to be in any way compromised or marginalized, our democracy will suffer a great loss.

Should we just “get used” to the way things are?  The people opposing the brutal child labour regimes of the 1st Industrial Revolution did not “get used to” those conditions – they fought to change them – and they changed the world.  We’re are in the midst of what some are calling the 4th Industrial Revolution.  Young people today, and creators, members of the “precariat”, are also objecting to the circumstances of their lives. And I warrant they will fight to change them.  As I said at the outset, in a social democracy we do not have to get “used to it”.  We have the right to decide what sort of world we live in.

So my answer to the Minister’s question is this: If you want a stronger democracy that is less vulnerable to special interests, do everything in your power to restore balance to the world in which our creators live. Encourage and enable them.  Our creators are not living in a golden age.  That was the original goal, they didn’t get it, the promise was broken – so we owe it to them.  Now.

And let’s all remember, the fight for democracy and justice has always had a soundtrack.

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Music Canada AGM 2016 panel discussion: Creative Professionals – Bridging the Income Divide and Canada’s Cultural Policy Review

The panel discussion at Music Canada’s 2016 AGM put the spotlight on the ability of creators to earn a living in the digital age. Sharing perspectives from two of Canada’s great cultural industries, writing and music, John Degen and Graham Henderson discussed something common to all of Canada’s cultural sectors – the need for a functioning marketplace that properly remunerates creators when their work is used. John and Graham were interviewed by Kate Taylor, an expert in Canadian cultural sovereignty in the digital age.

The panel was introduced by Steve Kane, President of Warner Music Canada.

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John Degen is a poet and author, and the Executive Director of the Writers’ Union of Canada. For the last two years, John has chaired the International Authors Forum, an umbrella organization for authors’ organizations around the world, with a network of around 650,000 authors. John is a long-time partner of Music Canada on issues affecting creators in Canada and an outspoken advocate for creators’ rights.

Kate Taylor is an award-winning novelist and journalist with the Globe and Mail, where she currently serves as lead film critic. Kate previously hosted Music Canada’s Global Forum at CMW 2015, where the topic was The Survival of the Creative Class.

Graham described how remuneration for creators has steadily eroded over the past 20 years, and how it’s harder than ever for a middle class of creators to earn a living from their work. Graham summarized the effect of the digital shift with a quote from Francis Gurry, Director General of WIPO, as a “seemingly avoidable and inappropriate loss of value to creators, performers and the creative sector.” Graham noted the key was that this was avoidable; it didn’t have to be this way. Wealth created by the enormous opportunities technology, which creators have embraced, brings is not finding its way to the creative side of the ledger, despite the best intentions of the lawmakers who wrote the rules currently governing the digital environment.

A 2015 Writers’ Union study titled Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativity found that, taking inflation into account, writers are making 27% less than they were making in 1998 from their writing, while 45% of writers say they must do more to earn a living now. John confirmed that trends in Canada are happening all over the world. The conditions under which creators work are becoming increasingly difficult. Globally, there has been a 27-29% decline in authors’ income.

Regarding the current Canadian cultural policy review, titled Canadian Content in a Digital World, the panel agreed the goal for creators is to have a functioning marketplace in place. John called the review a golden opportunity for a necessary conversation about “fair trade culture,” so that people who “only identify as consumers of culture understand just what underlies the value of the product that they’re buying.”

Graham also spoke to the shape he hopes the review will take. “For us, what would be epic, would be a meaningful review of the rules that were put in place in the late 90s, and the rules that were put in place in 2012, to take into account this new reality; the reality that we have no middle class,” he said. “It increasingly looks like a lottery and if you win the lottery, you win an enormous amount of money, and everybody else is struggling. I think the question we have to ask Minister Joly and the government is – is creation a profession, or do they think its a hobby? And if you think it’s a profession then they have to, and we have to, stand up for the rights of creators to be paid appropriately.”

The full video of the panel can be viewed below.

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For more photos from the Annual General Meeting, visit our photo album on Facebook.

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Harmony between music and economic development

Music is increasingly being seen as an important means of economic development with Music Canada’s Mastering of a Music City as the primary resource in this effort.

A vibrant nightlife, of which music is so much a part, is critical for attracting and retaining talent. Cities like Austin and Nashville regularly lure investment, new business growth and talented workers, through a deliberate program to sell their cities as great music cities.

But a vibrant music scene doesn’t magically happen. Attention must be paid to the many bylaws and regulations that impact music. The music ecosystem, with artists and musicians at the heart, needs to be nurtured, supported and promoted with a focus on commercial music as well as not-for-profit enterprises. Infrastructure, in the form of individuals or bodies who facilitate regular communication between the city and the music community, are necessary.  Sometimes there is also an important role for investment in hard infrastructure like transportation networks and performance facilities.

The Mastering of a Music City, designed to be a road map for communities that want to engage with their music community and build a vibrant music economy, is being utilized across Canada, the US and internationally.  Music Canada has added to this work with a tool kit designed specifically for chambers of commerce, important agents in community economic development work.

Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has called the Music Cities model a “tried and tested economic development tool.”

Last week a symposium hosted by WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation featured a presentation on Music Canada’s report by Amy Terrill.  CEO Steve MacKenzie remarked:

“Developing Music Cities has proven itself as a winner in Economic Development. We have tangible research, thanks to Music Canada’s work in the field, showing economic growth in correlation with fostering a healthy music ecosystem. Just as important is the cultural spin-off that comes with the support of these initiatives. Quality of life is a major deciding factor for a dynamic workforce that greatly values a work/life balance. The music sector is a wonderful example where an industry’s by-products are of equal value to its core functions. Music is universal, and in Windsor-Essex, one of Canada’s most ethnically diverse regions, it’s a language that we all speak.  It provides an impact we can all benefit from.”

And the word is certainly spreading.

Music Cities will be the topic of a panel discussion and presentation at the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) annual conference on September 27, 2016.  IEDC is a membership organization serving economic developers with more than 4,500 members.

The session, Mastering a Music City for Economic Development, will feature the following:

  • Kate Becker, Director, Office of Film + Music, Seattle, WA
  • Jonathan Knecht, VP, Marketing + Creative Director, Kansas City Area Development Council, Kansas City, MO
  • Amy Lopp, Business Development Specialist, Athens-Clarke County Economic Development, Athens, GA
  • Don Pitts, Manager, Music & Entertainment Division, Economic Development Department, City of Austin. Austin, TX
  • Amy Terrill, Executive Vice President, Music Canada, Toronto, Ontario, CA

And next month, Amy Terrill will participate in a discussion on music and cities, at the 5th UCLG Congress World Summit of Local and Regional Leaders in Bogota, Columbia.

Ultimately, Music Canada and our members are leading this initiative in order to improve the odds for those wanting to develop careers in the music industry – in order to create a stronger music community.  Music interacts with cities in ways that benefit those cities.  Contributing to a broader understanding of that value will, in turn, bring about greater opportunities for all of us to make music.

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Music Canada unveils Music Cities Toolkit at Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM

gh-screen150 representatives from chambers of commerce across the country took part in a Music Cities workshop conducted by Graham Henderson yesterday at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Annual General Meeting in Regina.

Henderson unveiled a Music Cities toolkit that Music Canada custom-built for the CCC’s network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, in all regions of the country.

The toolkit was designed to provide chambers of commerce with a roadmap and guide to activate the power of music in their communities.  It describes potential roles for the chamber as follows:

  1. Catalyst – as the leading voice of business, acting to enhance economic prosperity and quality of life, the chamber can act as a catalyst to stimulate the Music City discussion
  2. Advocate – convene a music policy task force to identify municipal policies and regulations that are hampering the creation, production and promotion of music
  3. Operator – develop a proposal for the chamber to act as a music office/officer
  4. Trainer – provide training to entrepreneurs within the music community
  5. Promoter – host and amplify music events, celebrate the music history in your community

The toolkit builds on the global success of Music Canada’s report The Mastering of a Music City, Key Elements, Effective Strategies and Why it’s Worth Pursuing.

“We are so pleased that Music Canada has partnered with us and shared their excellent work in this space with the chamber network as a tried and tested economic development tool,” said Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

“We are extremely pleased to be able to work with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce whose pan-Canadian network makes it an ideal partner to spread the thinking behind and the benefits of adopting the Music Cities model for your community,” said Graham Henderson.

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music-cities-toolkit-cover-2The Music Cities Toolkit is available here.

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New Music Cities report from Des Moines, Iowa

des-moines-music-cityMusic Canada’s The Mastering of a Music City report continues to attract interest and generate important conversations about Music Cities and music policy in cities around the world—this time in Des Moines, Iowa.

A new report, entitled “Des Moines’ Potential as a Music City”, has sparked local media attention and a discussion about what the Iowa capitol can do to realize its ambitions of becoming “the next Austin, Texas.” The report was authored by Kurt Bearinger at the Iowa State University and draws heavily from Music Canada’s The Mastering of a Music City report, a local survey, and various interviews with members of the local music community and music policy-makers.

Des Moines tops national city rankings, notes the report: it is Business Insider’s number one city for the middle class, Forbes’ 2014 best city for young professionals, and Fortune’s 2014 number one up-and-coming downtown. But despite the significant musical talent that comes from the city—and Des Moines is home to several music festivals and a vibrant music scene—it has yet to earn recognition as a Music City.

To fix this, the report makes fourteen recommendations directed at the City of Des Moines. These recommendations include: policy changes that would reduce regulations that affect the owning and operating of a live music venue, investigating music and cultural districts in the city, and beginning a Music City branding campaign. One recommendation specifically references Toronto’s Music Directory as a best practice to be emulated.

“It is my hope that this report will spark positive changes to the Des Moines music scene and be used as a tool convincing the City and Council to prioritize live music, partner with the music community, and create a city identity around live music,” says Bearinger, author of the report. “If followed, the sixteen policy recommendations could set the foundation needed to transform Des Moines into a nationally recognized music city.”

You can read a digital copy of the report here.

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Barrie Chamber CEO calls Burl’s Creek an economic boost

Yesterday, Rod Jackson, CEO of the Barrie Chamber of Commerce, authored a column in the Barrie Examiner, expounding on the benefits that the Burl’s Creek Event Grounds brings to the community. The event grounds is host to two large-scale, world class events: the WayHome Music Festival and the Boots and Hearts Music Festival. Together, they draw more than 75,000 people to the Barrie and Oro-Medonte area.

Photo credit: Bram Gonshor

Wayhome 2016. Photo credit: Bram Gonshor

“The massive economic impact of Burl’s Creek events on the region clearly assists many of our hotel, food and beverage, tourism and trades members,” writes Jackson. His op-ed identifies the various benefits that festivals like these bring to both the community, the city, and the businesses of the region:

  • In 2015, the Boots and Hearts Music Festival sold out every hotel in Barrie, earning the city’s 11 hotels and Georgian College rentals more than $3.7 million;
  • During the two festivals in 2015, tourists spent more than 54.4 million dollars, across the region—these dollars being put into the hotel, food and beverage, and related tourism industries;
  • These events also generate 584 full-time jobs for the community during the two festival weekends.

In addition to the economic impacts, the festivals support various charities in the community. Last year, they donated approximately $40,000 to the Seasons Centre for Grieving Children and Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.

“We at the Barrie Chamber of Commerce are proud to have such an active and contributing community business as a member of the chamber,” writes Jackson.

The Chamber of Commerce isn’t alone in speaking about the benefits that these festivals bring to the community. Last year, the Central Ontario Music Council outlined its Music City vision for downtown Barrie to city council. They want to see the city capitalize on its music assets and leverage the events that take place in Burl’s Creek to bring more visitors to downtown Barrie. One option they recommended was to create events within the city—pop-up shows and local performances—that would function as a “road to WayHome” in advance of the popular festival.

You can read the Barrie Chamber of Commerce letter yourself here.

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Music Canada’s Graham Henderson will discuss Music Cities at Amped Up in San Antonio

Amped UpOn September 6, Music Canada’s President & CEO, Graham Henderson, will be discussing Music Cities at Amped Up, presented by Centro San Antonio. The music-focused event will dig into what makes San Antonio’s musical landscape unique, and in addition to Graham’s keynote address, will feature music leaders from local venues, non-profits and, of course, musicians, breaking down San Antonio’s music economy and community. There will also be live performances, including a collaboration between city leaders and artists. Amped Up is happening at the Juarez Plaza, La Villita from 6-9pm.

What can a business development association do to help local music businesses and musicians? What can the community do to help the music economy flourish? These are the questions Graham will explore as he speaks to findings from Music Canada and IFPI’s report The Mastering of a Music City, an award-winning roadmap for communities of all sizes who are trying to realize the full potential of their music economy.

Centro San Antonio is committed to fostering a vibrant and prosperous downtown that benefits the entire San Antonio community. Their mission is “to be an advocate for downtown businesses and property owners, a catalyst for economic improvement in the inner core and a thought leader on important community issues.”

Tickets can be purchased here.

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