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Posts by Ramlah Ismail (18)

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Debora Spar Op-Ed ‘Return to the Era of Rule-Making’ featured in The Hill Times

In an op-ed published today in The Hill Times, distinguished Harvard professor and author Debora Spar examined how rapid technological advancements have affected the evolution of the recorded music industry – highlighting how governments worldwide are reforming their copyright legislation to contend with the rising impact of these digital-based streaming services and user-upload platforms.

The article was adapted from a keynote speech Spar delivered at Music Canada’s 2018 Playback event in October. In her remarks, she discussed her groundbreaking 2001 book Ruling the Waves: From the Compass to the Internet, a History of Business and Politics along the Technological Frontier.

In the piece, Spar outlined the book’s thesis that the Internet – like of a long chain of communications technologies that began with the printing press, telegraph, and then the radio – was destined to go through four major phases of political and commercial evolution.

These four phases include:

  1. Innovation
  2. Commercialization
  3. Creative Anarchy
  4. Rule-Making

From here, the piece highlights how the progression of these four stages parallels  major developments within the music industry, with the ‘innovation’ stage occurring in the 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Spar goes on to discuss how the industry is now in the hypothesized ‘rule-making’ stage – pointing to government initiatives like Canada’s ongoing Copyright Act Review as evidence we are in this final phase of regulation and enforcement.

Read the full Hill-Time piece here.

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Miranda Mulholland highlights copyright and artist remuneration issues at the 2018 World Trade Organization Public Forum

In October 2018, Canadian musician and artist advocate Miranda Mulholland participated in the the World Trade Organization Public Forum 2018 in Geneva as part of a panel discussion on the future of innovation and creativity.

The panel also featured Richard Bagger, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Market Access at Celgene, and Nicholas Hodac, Government and Regulatory Affairs Executive, IBM, and was moderated by Ellen Szymanski, Executive Director, Global Innovation Policy Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In her remarks, Mulholland provided a stark picture of the current realities of artist remuneration in this increasingly digitized musical landscape. She outlined the differences in opportunities for artists in the 1980’s and 1990’s, whose earnings sustained their livelihood and enabled them to enter the middle class –  in a way that artists today are simply not able to.

Photos: © WTO/Jay Louvion

“Royalty checks that once paid for a down-payment on a home for those lucky enough to be working before the digital disruption, only amount to enough to buy a cup of coffee today.”

Indeed, rapid technological and digital advancements has meant that music has become instantly accessible, in a variety of mediums and services. Yet, the remuneration of creators and musicians for the use and commercialization of this work has not matched the pace of these developments.

Mulholland connected this reality to the phenomenon of the Value Gap: the significant disparity between the value of creative content that is accessed by consumers, and the revenues that are returned to its creators.

She ended her remarks by reflecting on the positive regulatory and legislative steps that have been occurring at the federal level worldwide. Canada’s ongoing statutory review of the Copyright Act, as well the EU’s review of the Copyright Directive have both created opportunities for meaningful reforms that better protect creators.

Watch Miranda Mulholland’s full remarks below.

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Playback 2018: Keynote Address from Debora Spar, Professor and Author

On Tuesday, October 16, Music Canada hosted Playback 2018, our annual industry dialogue and celebration. The event featured an  annual review from Music Canada Executive Vice President Amy Terrill, a panel discussion on how to help music creators living in the Value Gap, followed by a ‘fireside’ chat with Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

One of the highlights of the event was the keynote address delivered by Debora Spar, who first spoke at Music Canada’s Global Forum event ten years ago about her book Ruling the Waves: From the Compass to the Internet, a History of Business and Politics along the Technological Frontier.

In her remarks at Playback 2018, Spar took a look back at how predictive her groundbreaking 2001 book was – particularly when applied to the evolution of the recorded music industry. The central theme of the speech was a reflection on what progress has been made in applying rules to the wave of commerce and chaos that the internet has brought.

As Spar describes,

“My thesis was that the Internet – despite all the hoopla surrounding it; despite the vast fortunes already being made and the even greater fortunes being foretold – was part of a long chain of communications technologies that began with the printing press; and a technology whose development needed to be seen as part of this broader historical evolution… I argued that the Internet, like the printing press and the telegraph and the radio, was destined to go through four major stages of political and commercial evolution.”

After outlining each of the four phases (innovation, commercialization, creative anarchy, rule-making), Spar drew a parallel to the evolution of the music industry, with the ‘innovation’ stage occurring in the 1980’s and early 1990’s. 

Spar went on to trace how the major developments of the music industry corresponded to the four phases described in her 2001 book – pointing to government initiatives like Canada’s ongoing Copyright Act Review as evidence we are in the final ‘rule-making’ stage.

To watch Debora Spar’s full remarks below, check out the video below.

To view more moments from Playback 2018, a photo gallery can be found on Music Canada’s Facebook page.

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New Edition of Keys to a Music City Report Launched at Music Policy Forum Summit in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 Music Policy Forum Summit took place this past weekend at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The event brought together a collection of musicians, researchers, policymakers, industry and nonprofit leaders, and other stakeholders for a wide-ranging exploration of some of the most promising and exciting thought leadership in the music and policy space.

Music Canada’s EVP and Music Policy Forum co-founder Amy Terrill was a speaker at the summit, presenting a workshop entitled Bridging the Gap: Effective Models of Local Governments in Partnership with Local Music Communities. The workshop centered on sharing insights from Music Canada’s report Keys to a Music City: Examining the Merits of Music Offices, Boards, and Night Mayors, which was released in May 2018 at Canadian Music Week. Since then, the report has been updated to include the experiences of three additional cities whose unique approaches to developing music ecosystems offer a valuable addition to the paper.

You can read this newly released version of Keys to a Music City here.

Prior to the conference,  Amy Terrill was a guest on podcast and radio show Songbyrd Radio. Along with a representative from Listen Local First DC (another sponsor of the MPF), Terrill and her fellow co-founder Michael Bracy spoke about the upcoming conference and discussed how their field is working to strengthen music ecosystems locally – and globally.

During the second day of the summit, Terrill also moderated a panel entitled True Adventures in Launching a Music Strategy. The panel featured practitioners from cities at various stages between vision and implementation: former Toronto City Councillor Josh Colle; Lynn Ross, Cultural Planner at the City of Vancouver; Allison Harnden, Nighttime Economy Manager at City of Pittsburgh; Nik Ives-Allison, General Manager for the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition.

Check out some highlights from the panel below, and thank you to everyone who attended the 2018 Music Policy Forum Summit.

 

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Playback 2018: Fireside Chat with Cary Sherman, CEO and Chairman of the RIAA

On Tuesday, October 16, Music Canada hosted Playback 2018, our annual industry dialogue and celebration. The event began with an annual review from Music Canada Executive Vice President Amy Terrill, followed by a keynote address from professor and author Debora Spar, and a subsequent panel discussion on how to help music creators living in the Value Gap.

The final program of the afternoon was a ‘fireside’ chat with Cary Sherman, the Chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Moderated by brilliant artist advocate and musician Miranda Mulholland, the conversation centered on Sherman’s long career as an industry titan and passionate supporter of the rights of music creators.

The discussion began with a deep-dive into the recently passed Music Modernization Act (MMA) in the US, and an outline of Sherman’s role in the evolution of this historic legislation. The MMA contains several important new components, but some of the key achievements include:

  • The creation of a cohesive ‘blanket’ mechanical license: involves the establishment of a blanket license for streaming services to companies, managed by a new collecting society that will receive these payments and distribute them to the creators.
  • Pre-1972 Recordings: royalty protections are now ensured for pre-1972 performances.
  • New ability for producers (and other ‘adjunct’ creators like sound engineers and mixers) to be paid directly from their share of the artist’s royalties.

In addition to outlining the key policy components of the MMA, Sherman also touched on how rewarding it was to see the strong support and recognition of the value of this legislation that existed on both sides of the aisle. As he described, the consensus that formed between different aspects of the industry became a powerful force that ultimately helped present a united coalition.

To watch more of the conversation, check out the video below.

Following the conversation, Music Canada President and CEO Graham Henderson presented Sherman with a framed Leonard Cohen poster, commemorating Cohen’s 2017 Polaris Prize Short List nomination. Sherman is a Leonard Cohen fan and shared a recollection of a special performance of his song ‘Hallelujah’ by k.d. lang at Cohen’s Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

 

A full Playback 2018 photo gallery can be viewed on Music Canada’s Facebook page.

 

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Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage releases new report examining cultural hubs and cultural districts

Earlier this month, the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage released a report entitled A Vision For Cultural Hubs And Districts In Canada. This report was the outcome of a Committee study on cultural districts and hubs in Canada, with a particular focus on determining the role they play in city building, their economic impacts, their effects on arts and culture, and how the federal government can better foster and support the development of these spaces.

The Committee held eight meetings earlier this year, with Music Canada’s Executive Vice President Amy Terrill appearing as a witness during this process.

The report provides a summary of the federal government’s current initiatives regarding cultural hubs and districts, and outlines various policy perspectives on key related topics including: the social and economic impact of cultural hubs and districts, the various collaborative approaches to developing cultural hubs and districts, barriers to securing funding, and the important role of infrastructure considerations. The report also contains 18 Committee recommendations to the Government of Canada.

One of the key issues discussed in the report is how exactly a cultural hub and cultural district can be defined. Witnesses throughout the eight Committee meetings provided a number of different interpretations of what constitutes a hub or district, offering definitions that ranged from fairly encompassing to more rigidly defined. Music Canada has submitted our own recommendation regarding how cultural hubs and cultural districts should be categorized, in addition to recommending that the Department of Canadian Heritage’s definition for cultural hubs be expanded. It was encouraging to see that the official Committee recommendation reflected this assertion, with the specific language calling on the Department to “broaden the definition of a cultural hub to, among others, consider new technological art forms.”

Another important topic highlighted in the report outlined the various collaborative approaches that can be taken to developing cultural hubs and cultural districts. Alongside the role of the government, partnerships have been found to be the key to the successful creation of projects relating to cultural hubs or districts. Indeed, as EVP Amy Terrill highlighted in her testimony before the Committee, collaboration between the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors is a critical component of cultivating a flourishing network of cultural spaces and sustaining a vibrant cultural sector.

Other key issues that were outlined in the report include:

  • The social impact of cultural hubs and cultural districts, such as their role in empowering local communities and contribution to fostering inclusion
  • The economic impact of cultural districts and hubs, with a particular focus on their role as economic drivers and tourism generators
  • The distinct roles of federal, provincial, and municipal governments in encouraging the development of cultural hubs and districts
  • The barriers to securing operational funding for cultural spaces
  • The potential of introducing tax measures and incentives to support the development of cultural hubs and districts, and other types of social public spaces
  • The challenges posed by a lack of affordable spaces in urban centres and the impact of rising real estate prices on public spaces

Read the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage’s full report on the House of Commons website.

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City of Vancouver approves measures to help boost music industry and creative sectors

On July 10th, Vancouver’s City Council voted to take steps towards implementing measures that better support the city’s music ecosystem. Council came to a unanimous decision to approve a grant of $400,000 to help provide funding for “Vancouver-based music-focused projects,” as well as to enhance the growth of accessible, vibrant cultural spaces within the city.

The approved recommendations arose from two reports presented to Council that provided policy suggestions for additional support for the city’s music community and industry: the Vancouver Music Strategy Interim Report and Making Space for Arts and Culture: 2018 Cultural Infrastructure Plan.

“Vancouver’s vibrant, diverse arts and culture community puts us on the map as a city with a thriving creative scene,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson in a media release. “These actions will crank up support for our growing arts and culture community, create and preserve important spaces, and focus the city on ensuring that creative people are able to stay and build a future in Vancouver.”

One of the report’s key recommendations that was approved is the establishment of a temporary full-time staff position within the City that will act as a resource and advocate for the music community, and be responsible for facilitating the completion of the final Vancouver Music Strategy report. Of the total $400,000 grant amount, $100,00 will be allocated towards supporting this staff position.

Other proposed future measures include the development of a Music Office and the creation of a Music Advisory Council. These policy measures echo those recommended in Music Canada’s groundbreaking 2015 report, The Mastering of a Music City.

Also included in the Music Strategy interim report were the findings of the recently released Vancouver Music Ecosystem Study, facilitated by the Music BC Industry Association, Creative BC, Sound Diplomacy, and other key partners.

Some of the study’s key findings include:

  • Economic Impact: the economic impact of music in Vancouver is over $690 million (per year).
  • Employment: the music ecosystem supports a total of 14,540 jobs, including 7,945 direct music jobs in Vancouver for musicians, venues, festivals, music publishers, music teachers, studios & sound engineers, managers and labels, and music press and marketing.
  • Income/Wages: the employment impact of Vancouver’s music industry is over $520M annually.

Read the full Vancouver Music Ecosystem report here.

 

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Toronto Music Advisory Council highlights key milestones at last meeting of the term

The Toronto Music Advisory Council’s (TMAC) final meeting of the year took place on June 20th, 2018. Committee members discussed a variety of critical issues and developments, with the Working Groups providing progress updates on a number of their agenda items.

TMAC Co-Chairs City Councillor Josh Colle and Spencer Sutherland also presented a written summary of TMAC’s key milestones during the meeting, emphasizing the accomplishments that helped achieve the committee’s priority items.

Key highlights of the summary document are featured below.

Creating opportunities to support local musicians: major accomplishments include initiatives like Arts/Music in the Parks; the Toronto Music Directory; the YYZ Live series; and City Hall Live. Several pilot programs are still yet to be launched, as they are pending official Council approval. Some of the most notable include a pilot program regarding musician loading zones, tour bus parking, and an entertainment zone study.

Addressing regulatory burdens of music venues: this includes policies that aim to streamline regulations and permit processes or remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for venues and spaces.  One of the early major accomplishments was eliminating the enforcement against music venues for illegal postering in 2015. Additionally, TMAC has played an important role in the development of various ongoing noise bylaw-related initiatives at the City of Toronto, such as the development of a Terms of Reference for Noise Impact Studies for new developments within 120 metres of existing live music venues.

Measures to protect music venues: TMAC has long advocated for the development of policies that protect existing music venues, such as the establishment of a live music venue certification program and the proposed creation of tax benefits for local live venues.

However, one of TMAC’s major accomplishments was its role in endorsing the adoption of a version of the “Agent of Change” principle in Toronto. This principle has now been adopted and is a culmination of several recent decisions at City Hall.

Arising from PG29.4 TO Core: Downtown Plan Official Plan Amendment, the proposed measures are intended to encourage the retention of live music venues, by:

  • Ensuring that live music venues can continue to function without noise-related impact on new residential development, meaning that:
    • New live music venues located within Mixed Use Areas 1, 2, 3, 4 and Regeneration Areas will be designed and constructed to minimize noise from the premises and provide acoustic attenuation measures that would protect residential uses; and
    • New mixed-use developments located within Mixed Use Areas 1, 2, 3, 4 and Regeneration Areas will be designed and constructed to include acoustic attenuation measures on-site, or within the building design, to mitigate noise levels from adjacent indoor live music venues and from outdoor live music venues.
  • Requring an advisory to be implemented for newly developed residential units within 120 meters of a live music venue.

Supporting the development of a robust night-time economy: TMAC has advocated for the City of Toronto to take steps towards establishing measures to support live venues and other night-time operators. One of the major accomplishments is the implementation of an 18-month nightlife economy study, led by the Responsible Hospitality Institute.

Promoting Toronto internationally and fostering alliances with global music cities: notable accomplishments in this arena include the successful development of recurring initiatives, such as the Tale of Two Cities event series; an Austin-Toronto Music Business Summit that took place in 2016, with a new summit in development for late 2018; a series of SXSW activations between 2015 to 2018, and more.

 

The full summary document of TMAC’s accomplishments can be found here.

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Music Cities Summit 2018: ‘How Public Spaces Can Contribute to Scenes and Strategies’

On Saturday May 12th, Music Canada held its third annual international Music Cities summit The Mastering of a Music City during Canadian Music Week. City professionals, policy-makers, industry executives, and music community members all gathered to discuss topics related to the value of music, its economic impact, and its relationship to innovative city planning and creative entrepreneurship. Click here to view more recaps from the summit.

The last panel of the day was Making Space in the Public Realm: How Public Spaces Can Contribute to Scenes and Strategies. It examined how cities are utilizing publicly-owned buildings to create partnerships and develop initiatives with the music community. Business and community leaders from Denver, Seattle, Vancouver and Montreal discussed how public facilities can work in collaboration with their local music scene, and touched on issues like how to avoid competition with the private sector.

The panel was moderated by Farzaneh Hemmasi, Assistant Professor of Music & Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. Panelists included: Catherine Planet, Artist & Founder of La Chasse-Balcon; Dawn Ibey, Vancouver Public Library; Ismael Guerrero, Executive Director of the Denver Housing Authority, and; Tom Mara, Executive Director, KEXP.

The discussion kicked off with Catherine Planet providing some background on La Chasse-Balcon (founded in 2014), a series of music events with the mission of bringing neighbours together in residential areas. She discussed how her time spent living in Louisiana had a profound impact and inspired her to create an initiative that celebrates the musical vivacity of her hometown of Montreal once she returned.

Planet also touched on how these types of events help blur the lines between what is perceived as solely public and private spaces, and highlighted how a balcony can act as a symbolic bridge that enables these two spaces to become connected. Through La Chasse Balcon, free outdoor concerts are staged on balconies in different neighborhoods and have the surrounding community and crowds join in the festivities.

The panel then moved on to Dawn Ibey, who spoke about the role that libraries can play in building a vibrant Music City. She discussed how one of the core business activities of the Vancouver Public Library is to ensure free public programming for adults and children, with programs that support music creation, music education, as well as the staging of performances.

Ibey highlighted some of the major accomplishments of the Vancouver Public Library, such as the partnership with Sun Life Financial in 2016 to establish the city’s first musical instrument lending library. She discussed how public libraries should be included in the development of music strategies, as they contribute towards achieving some of the essential elements featured in The Mastering of a Music City report.

Next, Ismael Guerrero spoke about the Denver Housing Authority (DHA) and the impact that arts and music can have in addressing community justice issues. Through partnerships with community organizations as well as private sector initiatives, the DHA has taken steps to rebuild neighborhoods and modernize housing with a focus on building vibrant, mixed-income communities.

Guerrero touched on some of the other social entrepreneurial ventures the DHA has undertaken in recent years that are guided by a community-led, and sometimes, arts-centric framework and priorities. With investments supporting community organizations like Youth on Record, the establishment of community hubs have helped establish spaces where marginalized youth can create art and music.

The final panelist Tom Mara spoke about KEXP, a public radio, listener-supported station and non-profit arts organization in Seattle. Mara discussed the ‘music discovery-centred’ mission of KEXP to design their programming and initiatives in a way that supports music lovers, artists, and the wider arts community.

Mara touched on how one of the key commitments of KEXP is to support live music in Seattle, and highlighted how the organization stages around 300 live music performances every year at their facility. This exciting achievement was partly made possible through a partnership with the City of Seattle that enables KEXP to receive a favorable lease rate on their property, and is a key example of the different kinds of cross-sector collaboration that can exist.

The panelists went on to discuss several different topics and reflected on the unique opportunities that public facilities can provide, and that are currently not being leveraged.

To listen to the full discussion, you can watch the video below.

 

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Music Cities Summit 2018: ‘A Case Study On Cultural Heritage, Economic Development and Audience Development in New Orleans’ Panel Discussion

Grant W. Martin Photography

On Saturday May 12th, Music Canada held its third annual international Music Cities summit The Mastering of a Music City during Canadian Music Week. City professionals, policy-makers, industry executives, and music community members all gathered to discuss topics related to the value of music, its economic impact, and its relationship to innovative city planning and creative entrepreneurship. Click here to view more recaps from the summit. 

The New Orleans: A Case Study on Cultural Heritage, Economic Development and Audience Development in NOLA panel examined the role that non-profit institutions have played in promoting historical and cultural preservation within the city. Panelists discussed how their organizations work to support the broader cultural ecosystem in New Orleans and advocate for a dynamic, creative city.

The panel was moderated by Ashlye Keaton, co-founder of The ELLA Project. Panelists included: Chief Howard Miller, President of the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian Council; Jordan Hirsch, A Closer Walk with the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation; and Melanie Merz, WWOZ 90.7 FM.

The discussion kicked off with a presentation from Melanie Merz on the significance of the non-profit community radio station WWOZ to New Orleans and the city’s vast musical community. Merz touched on the history of the station and its development into a cultural institution within NOLA.

She discussed how WWOZ came to specialize in music that represents the city’s cultural heritage, and detailed how the station became known for its support of local artists and musicians. Merz also touched on how WWOZ has become praised for its location broadcasts of live music events within the city, such as the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The panel then moved on to the next speaker Chief Howard Miller, who spoke about the history of the Mardi Gras Indians and their impact on the city’s Mardi Gras rituals and celebrations. Chief Miller recounted his experience growing up in the tribe, and detailed the extensive nine-month long process of creating hand-sewn, intricate suits for the parade each year.

Chief Miller went on to discuss the challenges faced by the Mardi Gras Indians in their fight to have their intellectual and creative ownership of their suits be legally recognized. Every year at the parade, photographs are taken of the Indians in their elaborate suits, which are then commercially sold in the forms of images, posters, as well as in magazines, books or art galleries. The heart of the issue is that these individuals are profiting off the community’s cultural and artistic creations without the Mardi Gras Indians being financially compensated for the use of their likeness.

Along with the legal assistance of Ashlye Keaton, Chief Miller successfully registered the first Indian Mardi Gras suit with the United States Copyright Office in 2010, under the basis of it being recognized as an artistic work (a sculpture), and not a piece of clothing.

The final panelist Jordan Hirsch discussed the significance of the project  A Closer Walk, an interactive map of New Orleans’ music history sites. A Closer Walk (ACW) project and site is presented by WWOZ New Orleans, the Ponderosa Stomp Foundation, along with 3 other sponsors. The project aims to highlight the numerous musical sites that the city has to offer, and in particular, bring to light some of the sites that have remained unmarked or unrecognized.

Hirsch highlighted how ACW is a first-of-its-kind collaboration that features historical experts and music specialists drawing from extensive archival footage and chronicles, from both privately and publicly owned collections. The website currently has features on 104 landmarks, but the ultimate goal is to present 300 landmarks on the map in honor of New Orleans’ tricentennial in 2018.

The panelists went on to discuss several different topics and reflect on the city’s rich musical history, and how this musical legacy can be protected and promoted to a wider audience.

Watch a video of the full discussion below, and stay tuned next week for a recap of another exciting panel.

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