Today, Patrick Rogers, interim co-CEO of Music Canada, appeared 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.
In his remarks, Rogers spoke of the work that Music Canada has been doing since March – when the Canadian music industry was forced to cancel the JUNOs the same week as North American sports were shut down — and as Canadians stopped gathering in large numbers. At that time, Music Canada’s members directed us to focus our efforts and resources on helping the most vulnerable individuals in our industry: artists, crews and everyone working in the live music space.
“To help ensure that Governments at all levels had accurate information to understand the Pandemic’s impacts and to develop effective relief measures, we partnered with Abacus Data to conduct national polling about how the pandemic was affecting artists and our fans,” said Rogers.
That research included a national study that surveyed over 700 professional musicians, so we could better understand the impacts through their lens.
“Here are some important numbers,” said Rogers. “The report found that professional musicians perform, on average, nearly 100 times a year, typically traveling across Canada and the world.
Revenue generated from live performances in turn helps support an average of 11 other people, such as band members, technicians, and other industry jobs. And a staggering 85% of musicians agreed that without live performances, they will have difficulty earning enough to pay their bills.
But the most important number is zero. Zero live shows. Zero festivals. Zero “gigs” as artists, fans and the industry understood them for generations. With this in mind, we have spent the pandemic amplifying the voices of artists in settings like this and assisting colleagues and organizations like Erin Benjamin of the Canadian Live Music Association as they work to highlight the difficulties being faced by venues and the artists who play in them.”
Music Canada also commissioned a separate national survey of Canadians, with a first round released in May and an update in August. Those results were similarly startling. They underscored that the virus will keep Canadians, including identified music lovers, home long after they are allowed to attend events.
Rogers also spoke of the need for copyright reform. Last year, Music Canada and our industry colleagues came to the Heritage Committee to discuss the need for copyright reform.
“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 Rogers. “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.