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Posts by Alex Clement (23)


Alberta will allow all-ages entertainers to perform in bars, lounges

Young musicians are praising the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, which announced Friday that underage performers will now be allowed to play in bars and lounges throughout the province.

“I’ve been fighting for this since I was nine years old,” said Olivia Rose Leaf, a 17-year-old Alberta musician, adding that the change will mean a lot to the young performers she knows.

The previous policy, which prohibited underage performers from playing in bars and lounges had been in place since March 2007, when it was instituted out of a concern for public safety. But a consultation with musicians, venue owners, and promoters, led by MLA David Shepherd and Thom Bennett of the Edmonton Live Music Initiative, prompted the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission (ALGC) to reconsider.

According to Bill Robinson, president of the AGLC, the change is the result of changing attitudes in the industry. He also suggested that the training of staff has improved the overall safety in bars, making the policy shift possible.

The change is not a complete reversal. Bars and lounges will be required to request approval from the AGLC to permit minors to enter their premises as entertainers, and the approval process is expected to take up to a few days.

Still, the response from the music community and government has been positive—the prevailing view is that underage artists should be allowed to perform at the same venues as everyone else. Musicians, especially young and emerging artists, will benefit from the opportunity to begin building their live audience earlier in their careers.

“This is a great step forward for our music scene, for young performers, and for our province as a whole,” said Shepherd, who is a musician himself. “It makes areas like Edmonton’s downtown a much more attractive place to visit and to live.”



IFPI Releases Investing in Music Report

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), representing the recording industry worldwide, released a new report today, Investing in Music: The Value of Labels. The report highlights the important role that labels play in the global music industry. They are the primary investors in music; record labels discover and nurture artists, produce and promote music, and connect artists with their fans.

ifpi2016report-smallAccording to the report, labels remain the largest investor in music, maintaining tens of thousands of artists on global rosters, and investing 27 percent of their revenues—US$4.5 billion—in artists around the globe. “That’s an incredible figure that reflects their commitment to artists and the future of music,” says the report. “No other segment of the music sector invests in artists on anything like this scale.”

Jointly introducing the report, Frances Moore, Chief Executive of IFPI and Alison Wenham, CEO of WIN, said: “Investing in Music highlights not just record companies’ financial investment in artists, but also the enduring value they bring to artists’ careers.  In the digital world, the nature of their work has evolved, but their core mission remains the same: discovering and breaking new artists, building their careers and bringing the best new music to fans. These are the defining qualities of record companies’ investment in music.”

Here are the key highlights of the Investing in Music report:

Music does not just happen … it requires hard work and substantial investment. Record companies are responsibly for discovering and nurturing artists, producing and promoting their music and other forms of creative output, and connecting artists with fans in new and innovative ways. According to the report, it costs somewhere between US$500,000 and US$2 million to break a new act in a major market.

Record labels are the primary investors in music. Music companies invest US$4.5 billion annually in discovering, nurturing, and promoting artists. No other segment of the music sector invests in artists on anything like this scale, and this investment has been sustained even as the music industry weathered two decades of revenue decline.

Breaking down labels’ US$4.5 billion annual investment. This significant investment is broken down into two primary areas: A&R (or artists & repertoire), which is the discovery and development of artists, and marketing campaigns which promote artists and their music.

Developing the digital market. Record companies have invested heavily in the fast-developing infrastructure of the digital market. There is a complex system of digital licensing services which requires a substantial investment from music companies to track and distribute recordings.

Unlocking new revenue streams. Record companies invest in new revenue streams, such as licensing tracks for movies and TV, giving artists that have broken through to an audience new sources of income. A record company may have as many as 200 long-term brand partnerships active on behalf of their artists at any point in time.

The full report is easily accessed on this interactive website.


BC government cuts red tape for music festivals and special events


(L – R) Nick Blasko of Amelia Artists, Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy John Yap, the Honourable Minister Coralee Oakes, Music Canada’s President and CEO Graham Henderson, BRANDLIVE’s Catherine Runnals. Photo credit: Emir Mehinagic

Coralee Oakes, British Columbia’s Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, has announced that the government will simplify the Special Event Permit application process for music festivals, concerts, and other cultural events.

Previously, only non-profit entities could apply for Special Occasion Licenses, which allowed them to sell liquor at music festivals. This meant that music festival operators had to bring in a separate charity to serve alcohol at their events. It added another layer to the application process and was viewed as a regulatory burden.

With these changes, music festivals will be able to apply for their own Special Event Permits and enter into exclusive agreements with liquor manufacturers. The changes will also allow event promoters to enter into advantageous partnerships with breweries, wineries, and distilleries.

“These changes are the result of consultations with industry and an important step forward in our continued work to modernize B.C.’s liquor laws by cutting red tape for businesses,” said Minister Oakes. “We expect these changes will increase the number of special events held throughout B.C. and strengthen patronage of the arts in our communities.”

Music Canada President, Graham Henderson, who attended and spoke at the announcement in Vancouver characterized this policy change as a continuation of the government of BC’s commitment to music and a crucial component of a larger BC Music Strategy. Earlier this year, Premier Christy Clark announced a $15 million investment in the BC Music Fund.

“B.C. has a deep musical heritage and is home to some of the finest production facilities, artists, and labels in the world,” said Henderson. “We’re very happy to see the Province make changes that can better position B.C. to compete in an increasingly global marketplace.”

Check out Minister Oakes’ press release

Check out our report: BC’s Music Sector: From Adversity to Opportunity


Toronto’s music community discusses building a Music City in NOW Magazine cover story


NOW Magazine’s October 13, 2016 cover, featuring Alaska B. of Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.

Last week, NOW Magazine’s cover story, entitled “Dreaming of Music City,” featured interviews with ten members of Toronto’s local music community including artists, promoters, producers, record label owners, and music festival operators. They were asked about their experiences and the challenges they see for Toronto in becoming a world-renowned Music City.

The article highlights several important issues, including: the safety of musicians (and audiences) who belong to marginalized groups, affordable housing for musicians and artists, music industry-community collaboration, and music venue accessibility. Government funding, entertainment districts, and the use of public space for music are also discussed as policies for the city’s consideration.

Since the release of The Mastering of a Music City report in Summer 2015—a report which serves as a roadmap for cities seeking to grow their music communities and become Music Cities with vibrant, actively promoted music economies—Music Canada has travelled to music events and policy conferences around the world to share Music City best practices and strategies.

Our report touched on some of the issues presented in the recent NOW Magazine article, but a lot has happened in Music Cities development in the last year that may inspire solutions to many of the concerns expressed by Toronto’s music community:

  • Affordable housing and the threat of gentrification are issues for artists in most major cities. A few years ago, Nashville, Tennessee recognized this and the City collaborated with the Music City Music Council and members of the arts community to create an arts-focused affordable apartment residence called Ryman Lofts. The residence offers affordable housing in the city specifically for artists.
  • The city of Aarhus, Denmark has Music City aspirations. MONO, an organization for active rhythmic musicians in the city, operates a professional development and gathering space where artists can rent rehearsal facilities, a concert venue, attend workshops, record music, store their music gear, and network with others in the community. MONO has 40 rooms and is used by over 120 bands.
  • In Fort Collins, Colorado, private investment from the Bohemian Foundation and community organization led to the creation of The Music District. The Music District is a collection of five buildings which have been (and are still in the process of being) converted into a music hub. Artists can reserve or rent rehearsal spaces, attend music workshops, rent and service equipment, and practice their performances all within the facility.
  • Bogota, Columbia is a leader in using music to activate parks and public spaces. The city’s al Parque festivals are supported by the Ministry of Culture and various arts organizations. Throughout the city, throughout the year, and all for free, Bogota draws hundreds of thousands of music fans to its public parks where local, national, and international artists of all genres play for massive audiences.

It is important to recognize, as the authors of the NOW Magazine article do, the progress that the City of Toronto has made towards its Music City goals: the signing and meeting of the Austin-Toronto Music City Alliance, the creation of the Toronto Music Advisory Council, council’s adoption of the Toronto Music Strategy. The experiences and perspectives of the music community are critical to the growth of the Music City project, and this kind of discussion is an important part of the process.


Minister Joly launches consultations on ‘Canadian Content in a Digital World’

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage, has announced the beginning of consultations on Canadian Content in a Digital World. The consultation functions as a review of the Heritage department’s cultural funding programs and regulatory structures (Joly has repeated that “everything is on the table” in this review) and will seek to determine how the government should support the creation, discovery, and export of Canadian content.

The new consultation was preceded by a summer-long pre-consultation which was completed by nearly 10,000 Canadians. This pre-consultation was used to shape the current consultation, which, according to its guiding principles, will:

  • Focus on respecting citizen choice and supporting creators in making great, compelling content;
  • Reflect Canada’s incredible diversity in the content that is produced and support the production of news information and local content that is credible and reliable; and,
  • Drive social and economic innovation by forging strong links between creativity, economic growth and social resilience.

According to the ministry’s release, Minister Joly will host in-person discussions with representatives from a variety of cultural sectors across the country to receive comments on topics covered by the consultation. Canadians will also have the opportunity to comment on social media and through discussions within their own communities.

For artists and musicians—and all creators—these consultations represent an opportunity to make their voices heard. You can participate in the consultation online here.


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.


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.


East Coast Music Association announces new partnership with Music Canada and Music Canada Live

Last week, over 600 performing artists and 8,000 fans gathered in Cape Breton for East Coast Music Week (ECMW). Amidst the performances music professionals and representatives from music associations from across Canada met and began an initiative to make the music industry stronger in Atlantic Canada.

As ECMW came to a close, Andy McLean, of the East Coast Music Association, announced the beginning of a process to study the east coast’s music industry. In partnership with Music Canada and Music Canada Live, this initiative will eventually lead to the production of an industry profile of Atlantic Canada which will identify its strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for growth and development.

The ultimate goal of the initiative is to ensure that East Coast musicians can have a sustainable career without having to leave the region.

“The amount of talent in the Atlantic region is undeniable, and large events and festivals like the ECMA, bring outstanding cultural and economic benefits to the region,” says Amy Terrill, Executive Vice President of Music Canada.  “We look forward to learning more about the things that are working well in the Atlantic region and generating some new ideas that would help build a stronger, more successful music community.”

The initial report, which is expected by September 2016, has the support of all five regions and the local music industry associations (Music Nova Scotia, Music PEI, Music New Brunswick, Music Newfoundland & Labrador and the Cape Breton Music Industry Cooperative) who will participate in the study.

Amy Terrill spoke to the East Coast Music Week Industry Conference about Music Canada’s research—the BC Music Sector report which led to the Government of British Columbia’s recent $15 million investment in the music industry, and The Mastering of a Music City report which continues to generate discussion about how cities can make themselves more music and musician-friendly.

“It’s exciting to see the music city conversations blossoming in the Atlantic provinces,” added Terrill.  “Music has an incredible impact on community vitality and quality of life, which is critical for attracting and retaining young workers from every sector.  Working with the music community to ensure a friendly environment for the presentation of music is a win-win approach.”


Town of Aurora Approves Music Strategy

Earlier this week, the Town of Aurora, ON, approved of a music strategy which will guide local policy and support the needs of existing music businesses as the Town continues in its plans for development. The strategy will support Aurora musicians, create easier access to music programs, and support music programs for disadvantaged communities.

The music strategy acknowledges the significant role of music in providing employment, attracting tourism, and generating spending in other sectors of the local economy. Further, the strategy shows that the Town of Aurora understands how much a vibrant music sector can contribute to the social and cultural fabric of a community.

The five areas of focus in the strategy include:

  1. Supporting an environment friendly to music creators;
  2. Encouraging the business of music in Aurora;
  3. Promoting Aurora’s music sector locally;
  4. Fostering alliances with other music cites; and,
  5. Implementing a process for monitoring progress and measuring success.

Aurora’s music strategy follows the key recommendations of Music Canada’s The Mastering of a Music City report, which is a roadmap for communities of all sizes can follow to realize the full potential of their music economy. The global report is the result of more than forty interviews with music community experts, government officials, and community leaders. Nearly a year since its release, the report continues to drive policy discussions around music in cities around the world.


Vancouver City Council to Consider Music Friendly Policies

The Commodore Ballroom
Earlier this week, a motion to explore options for increasing city support for music and musicians was brought before Vancouver’s City Council. The motion was raised by Councillor Heather Deal and was referred to the City’s Standing Committee on Policy and Strategic Priorities.

“Vancouver is home to a vibrant, multicultural music ecology,” the motion reads, calling attention to the numerous musicians, live music venues, independent music producers, and recording studios which call the city home. It also recognizes the recent announcement by the Government of BC which will see $15 million in funding towards the creation of a BC Music Fund.

The motion proposes that city staff explore options which would make the city more music and musician-friendly. These include:

  • creating a working group focused on music,
  • advocating for and supporting music education,
  • exploring a multi-city music alliance with other cities with a strong music community,
  • working with Tourism Vancouver and Business Improvement Areas to identify and support tourism opportunities,
  • seeking further opportunities to leverage city-owned properties for use by artists, including musicians,
  • continuing to reduce unnecessary processes and regulations which affect music production and performance.

The Downtown Vancouver BIA was instrumental in sparking the conversation regarding city music policies, by bringing together Vancouver’s business and music community, as well as City staff and Councillors Elizabeth Ball, Heather Deal, and Adriane Carr, for a discussion on music cities earlier this month. Music Canada’s Graham Henderson spoke at the event regarding the role cities can play in incubating music scenes, and presented findings from Music Canada’s The Mastering of a Music City report, which outlines a roadmap that communities of all sizes can follow to realize the full potential of their music economy, as well as our new report, BC’s Music Sector: From Adversity to Opportunity, which highlights British Columbia’s wealth of talented artists and music assets and the factors that have put these assets at risk.

The report, citing in-depth interviews with more than 100 individuals in BC’s music sector, details the numerous benefits that a vibrant music economy, alongside supportive city policy, can bring. These benefits are not limited to quality of life and cultural development, but include economic diversification, the attraction and retention of talent in other industries, and music tourism.


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