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Public Research Findings: Live Music Industry Faces Triple Threat During Recovery

May 14, 2020, Toronto: Music Canada commissioned Abacus Data to conduct public opinion research to determine how Canadians’ feelings around music have changed during the pandemic. The national public opinion survey gauged the comfort Canadians have for returning to live music as restrictions lift, and the results are startling. 

“As governments across Canada and the world increasingly shift their focus to recovery, this data from Abacus underscores the precarious position of the live music ecosystem – an ecosystem upon which artists rely for a significant, and in some cases predominant, portion of their livelihood,” said Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada. “The music industry faces a triple threat. First – the very real medical concerns of Canadians about the virus. Second – that government restrictions will remain on large gatherings well into recovery. And third – that even after government restrictions have lifted and economies begin to reopen – Canadian confidence in returning to these live events will continue to be low.”

The findings show that even of the self identified “live music lovers” – for many, it will be at least 6 months after government restrictions are lifted, before they feel comfortable going to: bars / pubs (28%); small venue concerts (35%); large venue concerts (42%); festivals (41%); community event with live music (31%). 

The research also demonstrated how important music is in helping Canadians to get through the pandemic. Nearly two thirds  (58%) of respondents reported feeling worse about the pandemic because of the cancellation of live music events. Half of those identified as “live music lovers” also reported listening to more music during the pandemic, and that for the vast majority (86%), listening to music is a way to relieve stress. 

“As an artist, what I’m finding I miss the most is the collaboration and connection I have onstage with my fellow musicians and that powerful, ephemeral experience that is created between artists and a live audience,” said Miranda Mulholland, Artist and Chair of Music Canada’s Advisory Council. “What I find most heartening is that 84% of Music Lovers state that digital will never replace the live experience. Also, more than a third of respondents increased their music listening during this pandemic. These stats show that people clearly recognize the value and importance of music in their lives, perhaps more than they ever have.”

“Unfortunately, it’s clear that the pandemic will cause serious and possibly irreparable harm to Canada’s artists, the majority of whom were already living in a precarious state. We must continue to think about how we can help them through this as they’ve been here for all of us in this crisis,” said Mulholland.

Not only are these findings significant for the music industry, but they are important for the travel and tourism industries as well. As the government and music industry develops plans for recovery, they must understand that those whose businesses depend on large gatherings will continue to be affected by this pandemic for a much longer time. To that end, Music Canada will continue to assess Canadian’s changing perspectives on their comfort for returning to live music so that we can deliver this important and timely information to our partners.

For more information on the findings released from Abacus Data, please visit:


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.