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Music Canada applauds Government of Canada for clarifying CERB guidelines for artists and musicians

April 16, 2020, Toronto: Music Canada welcomes the recent clarification from the Federal Government on the guidelines for eligibility for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has responded to concerns around the preliminary rules that excluded people working reduced hours. These needed changes will help support artists and musicians who in some cases have been able to maintain limited hours of work, but are still facing incredible challenges.

Graham Henderson, President & CEO of Music Canada, and Miranda Mulholland, JUNO nominated artist and Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council, recently shared concerns about the need for expanded eligibility criteria in a meeting with Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage. Music Canada thanks the Minister who has confirmed that artists who are earning less than $1,000 a month through their sources of income can still qualify for the CERB. Additionally, the Minister clarified that royalty payments are not included as a source of income, which means that royalties can be earned without penalty or loss of eligibility for the CERB.

“Artists are often the most vulnerable in our music ecosystem as a result of the gig economy,” said Miranda Mulholland. “Minister Guilbeault and Parliamentary Secretary Julie Dabrusin have been the champions that our community needs in a time like this. They have listened to our concerns and have taken action to help.” 

A recent survey distributed by Music Canada and CONNECT Music Licensing, and led by Miranda Mulholland, Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council, has reported financial impacts of this crisis on the artists in our music ecosystem that are widespread, and significant. When asked whether they would lose much of not all of their income due to the crisis, the answer was a nearly unanimous yes. Canada’s entire artist community is concerned about making ends meet: more than 80% of artists are in need of financial assistance. Many artists already live close to the poverty line, and now the pandemic has pulled the rug out from under them financially.

The impact on artists will ripple throughout our communities: Artists are entrepreneurs, and job creators. Respondents to the survey create an average of 3.7 jobs per artist – with artists unable to perform or create, these jobs will be lost as well.

There have been further impacts to the creative process with more than half reporting the cancellation of all songwriting sessions, and nearly two in three respondents have had studio sessions cancelled. Perhaps one of the most surprising and unsettling findings from the survey is that a form of “writer’s block” is widespread in the community. Creators are finding enormous stress in how they are living now, and it is adversely impacting the creativity and inspiration needed to generate work. This is especially true for those who are caring for children or loved ones at home. 

Alarmingly, musicians reported that they have virtually no resources to fall back on apart from going deeper into debt; and this includes running up credit card debt. It’s clear that these losses are threatening the survival of entire sectors of the industry, and that the impact will be felt long after the pandemic ends. 

“Music Canada has been working with Minister Guilbeault during this pandemic to ensure he has an accurate picture of how the industry, and our artists are being severely impacted,” said Graham Henderson. “Thank you for hearing our concerns and for sharing them with the government so that meaningful support reaches our artists, and the hardest hit in our community.”

Music Canada will continue to work with the government, and its partners across the industry to further support artists impacted by the pandemic. More information has been made available on its resource page which can be accessed at: 



Erica Meekes
Music Canada
(416) 462-1485

About Music Canada
Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization that represents the major record companies in Canada:  Sony Music Entertainment Canada, Universal Music Canada and Warner Music Canada. Music Canada also works with some of the leading independent record labels and distributors, recording studios, live music venues, concert promoters, managers and artists in the promotion and development of the music cluster.

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