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Posts by Ramlah Ismail (18)

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City of Toronto holding Public Consultation Meetings for Noise Bylaw Review

The City of Toronto’s Municipal Licensing & Standards (MLS) division is holding public consultations as part of its noise bylaw review. The review aims to introduce updates that reflect our growing and vibrant city, while enhancing the noise standards that protect the residents of Toronto.

Public consultations will take place during a series of five meetings between January 28 to February 06, 2019 that aim to present and seek feedback on developing Noise Bylaw updates.

The third meeting will be centered around the topic of ‘Amplified Sound’, and will be highly relevant to the music community in Toronto. Artists, venue operators, festival and music event organizers, and many other members of the live music industry are invited to attend and contribute to the process. The meeting will take place on January 30th at the Scadding Court Community Centre (707 Dundas St. West), from 6-8 p.m.

The music industry has played an important role in helping to influence policy-making at the City. In particular, the Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) has had a significant impact on the development of various noise bylaw-related initiatives. Indeed, one of TMAC’s major accomplishments was its role in endorsing the adoption of a version of the ‘Agent of Change’ principle in Toronto – a landmark policy decision that will go towards helping protect live music venues in the city.

To see the full schedule of meetings: Noise Bylaw Review Public Consultation Schedule

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New RIAA-commissioned report examines how record labels are amplifying talent in the modern music market

A comprehensive new report highlighting how record labels have transformed in response to the digital and streaming age was recently released. The study was conducted by NYU Professor Larry Miller (who also hosts the popular Musonomics podcast) and was commissioned by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The report – entitled Same Heart. New Beat. How Record Labels Amplify Talent in the Modern Music Marketplace – features in-depth interviews with 50 company executives at both major and independent record labels. The study also incorporated revenue data from the RIAA on the music industry over the last several decades. The RIAA’s Chairman and CEO Mitch Glazier discussed the impact of the study in a recent op-ed.

The report examines many different components of the relationship between labels and artists. In particular, it outlines: the evolution of label efforts to discover and market musical artists; how marketing plans differ and enhance opportunities for artists in a streaming world; the increasing role of data in label strategies; approaches undertaken by labels to build artist branding, and more.

As Professor Miller describes, just as in the past, “labels work to discover and develop artists, connect them with creative collaborators and make great records, promote and position them in the media or wherever fans go to get music, and reward successful outcomes. But how labels do their job is nearly unrecognizable from just a decade ago.”

Some of the key findings of the study include:

Data analysis has become a crucial tool for record labels: a variety of techniques and algorithms have been developed by labels in order to ingest the huge amounts of data available, in order to quickly produce actionable insights. Data has become king.

Labels are transitioning from B2B businesses to direct-to-consumer businesses, with a particular focus on building strong relationships with fans: As Professor Miller describes, the shift from the ‘access-based’ model of today has meant that artists often release a continuous flow of new content, rather than the traditional every-other-year album release cycle. The structure and promotional capacity of record labels has rendered them the most effective body to undertake these marketing necessities. Indeed, the report outlined how the labels’ promotional ‘machines’ are best equipped to release a steady flow of singles, EPs, and albums and videos and maximize the impact of each, while the social media departments are able to support this promotion through various social media platforms.  

The digital transition has had a profound impact on the modus operandi of record labels, due to the prevalence of massive amounts of real-time discovery and consumption data: Staff at labels now analyze thousands of global inputs, such as: Twitter, Facebook followers, YouTube views, Instagram interaction, Shazam queries, Wikipedia searches — and more. This is in addition to the daily analysis of streaming and download figures on numerous music services, often globally. All this data is then consolidated and utilized to develop highly customized plans for artist releases.

It is true that the music industry has experienced extreme disruption brought on by the birth of digital services. Yet despite the impressive success of many DIY self-released artists, Professor Miller concludes in the report that “labels remain the key enabler for artists to maximize their creative vision and achieve their dreams for global visibility.”

Read the full report: Same Heart. New Beat. How Record Labels Amplify Talent in the Modern Music Marketplace.

 

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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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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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