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Tag archive: Music Cities (42)


Mayor Gregor Robertson shares new details on the Vancouver Music Strategy during JUNOs Week in Vancouver

Vancouver’s Mayor, Gregor Robertson, announced this morning at the JUNO Host Committee’s Music Cities Forum that the Vancouver Music Strategy will be presented to council in summer of 2018. The strategy has been in development since mid-2016, led by the Vancouver Music City Steering Committee with input from an Advisory Committee.

“There’s no doubt we have enormous potential in music and sound, particularly given the scale of our creative industries,” Robertson told the Music Cities Forum crowd.

In a City of Vancouver release, Robertson expanded on the Strategy’s goals: “Vancouver is home to a growing number of world-class artists who are building a vibrant and diverse music scene in our city. The Vancouver Music Strategy will help our artists to thrive—not just survive—by boosting our creative economy and seizing opportunities to grow our local music industry.”

The Strategy will be informed by two concurrent studies that received support from the BC Music Fund’s Research Program: Music BC’s City of Vancouver Music Ecosystem study, also funded by FACTOR and conducted by Sound Diplomacy, and Music Canada Live’s Economic Impact Assessment of Live Music in BC, facilitated by Nordicity. Both studies are expected to be completed in spring of 2018.

“This is a pivotal time for the City of Vancouver and British Columbia as we look to safeguard the long-term viability of the music sector within the creative economy. Music BC and the [Vancouver] Music City Steering Committee are committed to ensuring that these findings are used to reach our common goals of a vibrant and sustainable industry that will allow our artists and music industry professionals to thrive on the global stage,” said Alex Grigg, Executive Director of Music BC and Co-chair of the Vancouver Music City Steering Committee, in the City release. “This will be a benchmark for Music BC to work with other cities and municipalities across the province to implement like-minded strategies.  Music BC would like to thank the City of Vancouver, the Province of BC, FACTOR and all of our stakeholders for your continued support.”

It is a thrilling day for music in Vancouver and the province of British Columbia, as the Government of BC also announced a new music fund this morning called AMPLIFY BC. The excitement over the two announcements was palpable at the Music Cites Forum.


Barrie-Simcoe County music strategy envisions nationally-recognized ‘constellation’ of music scenes

On Wednesday, March 7 at the Five Points Theatre (formerly the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts) in downtown Barrie, Ontario, representatives from CultureCap and Nordicity unveiled the brand-new Barrie-Simcoe County Music Strategy. The Strategy was informed by a recent survey that garnered more than 270 responses from community members across Simcoe County, as well as consultations with local artists, labels, venues, tourism officials and municipal staff from local governments.

Combining various independent data sources, an inventory and map of musical resources in Simcoe County was constructed. 256 music businesses were identified in the County, mostly concentrated in five clusters: Barrie, Midland, Orillia, Wasaga Beach and Collingwood. As such, the Strategy sets a bold vision that “Simcoe County will be nationally-recognized as a constellation of distinct local music scenes committed to artistic ambition” within three years, where its distinct scenes shine brighter when united.

To reach this goal by 2021, the Strategy proposes the following mission for Simcoe County governments and the music community:

  • Build the foundation to support and advocate for music
  • Connect people in the music community, both internally and externally
  • Streamline regulatory pathways
  • Promote accessibility to reasonably-priced rehearsal spaces
  • Tell stories and build an identity to bolster a local star system

42% of the financial activity of music businesses in the County is generated in the summer season, and the Strategy suggests creating a cluster in the live music sector with festivals, venues and artists, and also framing Simcoe County as a place that “lets festivals happen.”

The project is being spearheaded by many local partners: Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), Simcoe County, the City of Barrie, the City of Orillia, the Town of Collingwood and the Central Ontario Music Council (MusicCO).

To guide the execution of the Strategy, a collaborative organizational structure in which MusicCO acts as a coordinating body of several Local Municipal Music Committees, beginning with Barrie, Orillia and Collingwood, is proposed.

Stay tuned for updates from the project’s partners in the near future as the results of the study and the full Barrie-Simcoe County Music Strategy are officially released.



#EveryStage: How Music Canada’s Music Cities advocacy aims to make Canadian municipalities more music and musician friendly

Last week Music Canada launched our JUNOS 2018 #EveryStage campaign, intended to highlight the ways our advocacy supports artists at every stage of their career, with a blog about our aim to secure equitable access to quality music education for all young Canadians.

We’re proud to return as a Platinum Partner of the 47th annual JUNOS, sponsoring both the Album of the Year category as well as the official kickoff to JUNO weekend, the Welcome Reception.

In the second installment of our four-part series leading up the 2018 JUNO Awards, we’ll explore Music Cities and Music Canada’s efforts to help make Canadian municipalities more music and musician-friendly. A Music City is a community of any size with a vibrant music economy.

Why it’s important

Vibrant and actively promoted local music ecosystems bring a wide array of benefits to both cities and the musicians inhabiting them. Economic growth, job creation, increased spending, greater tax revenues and cultural development are just a few examples.

“Live music is a growth industry in Ottawa. It shapes our identity and who we are as a city. In addition to the cultural benefits, a thriving music industry helps to level the playing field for our homegrown companies who are competing to attract talent from around the world.” – Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa

How we advocate

Music Canada’s world-renowned and globe-spanning research has identified several key strategies that cities both large and small can use to grow and strengthen their music economy. We work with municipal governments and regional partners to implement music and musician-friendly policies, establish music offices and advisory boards, as well as promote music tourism, audience development and access to the spaces and places where music is made.

Cities across Canada, including London, Vancouver, Hamilton, Calgary, Toronto, Barrie/Simcoe County, Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Windsor-Essex, Guelph and more have implemented or are exploring measures to maximize the impact, growth and support for their local music ecosystems, and Music Canada has been proud to provide support through our research and expertise in the development of these strategies.

Learn more

Our 2015 report The Mastering of a Music City represents a roadmap that communities of all sizes can follow to realize the full potential of their music economy. Truly global in scale, the report is the result of more than forty interviews with music community experts, government officials, and community leaders in more than twenty cities on every continent.

“This should remove barriers to performing and creating music. Ultimately the goal is to create a more sustainable music community where artists and professionals can enjoy successful careers.” – Graham Henderson, President and CEO of Music Canada

Our annual Music Cities Summit at Canadian Music Week brings policymakers, city planners and global music industry representatives together to discuss, learn and collaborate.

Chambers of commerce have an opportunity to carve out a leadership role in leveraging music as a driver of employment and economic growth. In 2016, Music Canada partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CCC) to create a Music Cities Toolkit, designed to provide the CCC’s network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade, in all regions of the country, with a guide to activate the power of music in their city.

“The cities of Kitchener and Waterloo have long recognized that a comprehensive and coordinated approach for live music allows us to not only expand our existing events such as the Kitchener Blues Festival but also attract new business and retain talent. As this document confirms, Music Canada is a tremendous resource for all stakeholders in formulating a local strategy, particularly in bridging municipal, business and cultural sector interests. Through national and international experience they know what works for the benefit of the entire community.” –  Ian McLean, President & Chief Executive Officer, Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce

Live Music Measures Up is the first comprehensive economic impact study of the live music industry in Ontario. It provides critical data and information to help guide decision-making within the sector, in government and other allied stakeholders.

Measuring Live Music represents an historic, timely and monumental opportunity; one which will enable us to entrench the true value of the live music economy in the minds of our stakeholders, government and audiences alike. It’s inspiring to see the sector organize, work together and build on the momentum we can all feel – here in the Province and around the world – the kind that will help guarantee live music takes its rightful place as one of Ontario’s greatest natural resources.” – Erin Benjamin, Executive Director, Music Canada Live



City of Toronto’s recently released Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy provides framework for arts, culture, and business to thrive

The City of Toronto has released its new Economic Development and Culture Divisional Strategy. The report establishes the Division’s priorities over the next five years (2018-2022), and provides the framework that will be used to guide the development of the Divisional programs and services.

The development of the Strategy included robust consultation with over 400 city residents and industry partners, a process that Music Canada was an active participant in. The feedback received provided insight into the importance of supporting the culture sector, and its key role in supporting the growth of a vibrant economy and business community.

Some of the key objectives the strategy aims to accomplish was to “encourage Toronto’s cultural vibrancy through more and enhanced cultural experiences,” as well as to further “engage partners in the planning and development of the City’s economic and cultural resources.”

The Economic Development and Culture (EDC) Divisional Strategy includes several strategic goals and actions, with a focus on improving four key areas:

  1. Equity and Inclusion
  2. Talent and Innovation
  3. Space and Access
  4. Operational Excellence

Some of the strategy’s areas of interest are highlighted below:

Improving affordability and access to arts and culture spaces

One of the key goals that is outlined in the strategy is working to “improve access and affordability of space for business and culture.” Some of the proposed actions to address this include: leveraging incentives and grants to support access to these spaces, advocating for the establishment of affordable, sustainable spaces for business and culture, and working to support opportunities for multi-tenant, shared spaces and hubs.

As was highlighted in our Mastering of a Music City report, access to affordable arts and culture facilities (spaces and places) is vital to the health of vibrant Music Cities. Rapidly rising rents and property taxes has significantly impacted the ability of live venues, rehearsal spaces, and arts hubs to continue operating, threatening the livelihoods of the artists who require access to them. The City has taken steps to help protect and support cultural facilities, with the most recent action being the creation of a new tax subclass to support arts/culture hubs and properties.

Another positive step to note was the recent decision of the Economic Development Committee to pass a number of Toronto Music Advisory Council (TMAC) recommendations aimed at providing better support for live music in the city. Of particular interest is the recommendation to create tax benefits for local live music venues, a policy action that would help achieve the key priority of venue sustainability.

Enhancing opportunities for artists and creators to access public spaces

Another key goal included in the EDC Strategy was increasing access to City-owned space, through: improving opportunities for community use of EDC-managed facilities, and working with City divisions to explore the feasibility of making other City-owned spaces available for use. Providing opportunities for local musicians to perform in public spaces within their own city is one of the ways a municipality can help to grow and support its vibrant music ecosystem.

Outstanding examples of these types and events and programming include City Hall Live and the YYZ Live performance series, a musical celebration that featured 150 performances from 75 local artists at Pearson International Airport.


The EDC Division’s previous two strategies – released in 2011 and 2013 – helped contribute the development of a Toronto Music Strategy, as well as the establishment of Music and Film Sector Development Teams.

It is encouraging to note that the new strategy further solidifies the City’s commitment to supporting the culture sector, recognizing the tremendous cultural and economic impact of the arts.


New research from SOCAN provides more evidence for the value of Music Cities strategies

The results of a new survey commissioned by SOCAN provide new evidence to support the development of Music City strategies, like those detailed in Music Canada’s landmark study, The Mastering of a Music City.

The SOCAN study titled Live Music & Urban Canadians confirms that most Canadians living in urban centres think it is important to live in a neighbourhood “with a vibrant local arts scene that includes live music” and support a portion of funds from new property developments going to community arts and culture developments.

Some details of the survey were initially shared in an opinion piece for the Toronto Star by SOCAN’s CEO Eric Baptiste titled Cities can create conditions for live music to thrive. The article was followed by another release expanding on the results of the survey and proposing ways that municipalities and music fans can support live music.

Results from SOCAN’s research include:

  • “Nearly two-thirds (63%) of urban Canadians agree that it is important to live in a neighbourhood with a vibrant arts scene that includes live music.”

Respondents with a university degree (71%) were more likely to agree with this sentiment versus those with a college (58%) or high school (49%) education. Urban residents in Atlantic Canada (74%) were also most in agreement versus residents in other parts of Canada, followed by Quebec (68%), British Columbia (67%), Ontario (63%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (54%) and Alberta (50%).

  • “The vast majority (80%) of urban Canadians would support a portion of funds going to community arts & culture developments.”

SOCAN’s survey stated that “currently new property developers in some municipalities are required to put a portion of funds towards community development, city parks, etc,” and asked respondents whether they would support a portion of these funds being put towards arts & culture developments like live music venues and local theatres.

Urban Canadians who agreed that living in a neighbourhood with a vibrant arts and live music scene was important to them were significantly more likely to agree (91%) that development fees should support arts & culture developments than those who did not agree (62%).

  • “Roughly half (49%) of urban Canadians would enjoy owning and living in a condo that offered live music in the lobby.”

SOCAN’s survey noted that many condos in the US and Europe have restaurants and bars in their lobbies. Of the urban Canadians who responded that they would enjoy live music in their lobby, young Canadians aged 18-34 were most likely to agree (66%) and respondents living in Quebec were less likely to agree (39%) than Canadian outside of Quebec (55%).

As noted in The Mastering of a Music City, music can play a powerful role in city brand building, and also in attracting and retaining talent and investment in a city’s broader economy. In a world where talent is highly mobile, some cities are focusing on the vibrancy of their music and arts scene as a way to stand out from the competition. SOCAN’s research adds further evidence to support this observation.

Access to the spaces and places in which music can be made – from education to rehearsal to recording to performance – is also one of the seven key strategies to grow and strengthen a local music economy identified in The Mastering of a Music City.

But the relationship between residential buildings and these spaces, including live music venues, rehearsal spaces, and arts hubs, is one in which cities across the world are attempting to strike the right balance. New residential developments have, in some cases, been developed on properties formerly occupied by live venues or community arts hubs. Other venues have been threatened by rising rents, property values and taxes that do not consider the social value of these cultural spaces.

What tools are at a city’s disposal that might be, given SOCAN’s research, supported by urban Canadians?

401 Richmond, a live-work community arts hub in Toronto, was recently confronted with a property tax increase that threatened its closure. Recognizing the cultural significance of venues such as 401 Richmond, the Province of Ontario announced it was prepared to, in conjunction with the City, develop a new tax class for heritage properties.

Toronto City Councillor Joe Cressy then brought a successful motion to council to formally begin the process of establishing “Toronto’s new Culture and Creative property tax sub-class.”

Another tool adopted by cities like Melbourne, San Francisco, Montreal and London is the Agent of Change principle in land use planning. The Mastering of a Music City describes the principle as such:

“The Agent of Change Principle determines which party is required to adopt noise mitigation measures in situations of mixed land use. If the ‘agent of change’ is a new apartment building that is being built near a pre-existing music venue, the apartment building is responsible for sound attenuation. On the other hand, if the music venue is undergoing renovations and therefore is the ‘agent of change’ in the neighbourhood, it is responsible for noise mitigation.”

In Toronto, while various measures are under consideration and review, the City’s Film & Entertainment Industries’ Music Unit can now add comments to applications circulated by the Planning Division for any new development within 120 metres of an existing live music venue so that staff can identify any potential conflicts and make recommendations.

These and other policies, like reviewing noise bylaws, can go a long way in allowing live music venues and residential properties to coexist, facilitating the conditions for the vibrant arts and cultural communities that SOCAN’s research has shown are important to nearly two-thirds of urban Canadians.

This research comes as regions across Canada, including London, Vancouver, Hamilton, Windsor-Essex, Moncton, Ottawa, Barrie-Simcoe County, and more have implemented or are considering strategies to better support and grow their music ecosystems. SOCAN’s new findings provide even more evidence for the value in municipal strategies that create the environment for music ecosystems to flourish.


Making the most of Toronto’s UNESCO Designation

Toronto joined an exclusive club made up of 180 cities worldwide last week when the City of Toronto and the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) announced that Toronto has been designated a UNESCO Creative City of Media Arts. While there may not have been much media coverage of the pronouncement, the city’s creative industries ought to be paying attention.

This makes Toronto one of the first cities in Canada to join the network, which was started in 2004 and includes designations for Media Arts, Music, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Design and Crafts and Folk Art.  Toronto’s designation of Media Arts is an attempt to capture the city’s achievements in not one, but several disciplines: “film, music, digital media and forms of cultural expression using technology”.

Few people in Canada may be familiar with UNESCO’s Creative City Network and are perhaps more familiar with its historical site designations or research.  This is not a surprise as North America has been relatively slower to join this party.  In fact, despite much attention given to Music Cities in North America, including many cities that build their brand on the artform, the first UNESCO City of Music in North America (Kansas City) has only just now been designated.

The international recognition of Toronto’s creative sector efforts is cause for celebration.  However, the designation should not be seen as the finish line, but as a springboard for further action. Based on our worldwide scan of Music City strategies, it is clear that the UNESCO designation has the potential of falling into the category of a public relations exercise.  But only if we let it.

In some cities, the designation has mobilized a comprehensive program for the promotion, protection and growth of the creative industry for which it is earned.  The UNESCO designation has, in other cases, ensured sustained political leadership on creative industry development and investment.  The network itself has afforded some cities with practical sharing of knowledge and best practices.

Toronto’s entire music community – including artists and industry – has an opportunity to make sure that the UNESCO designation has meaning.  We can leverage the UNESCO designation to secure an ongoing commitment to our music strategy and key priorities like venue sustainability, regulatory red tape reduction, livability for artists and musicians and access to spaces and places for the creation, rehearsal and production of music.  We can also use it to reinforce music’s equal standing alongside our partners in film and digital media.

UNESCO’s Creative City Network is definitely what we make it.   Let’s take ownership of this opportunity, and prove what we already know: Toronto can be the greatest Music City in the world.  We define it, and now we have another tool to help us build it.


UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network promotes cooperation between global cities that place creativity and cultural industries at the heart of their development plans.


Feedback sought for Barrie-Simcoe Music Strategy

A new music strategy is being developed for Simcoe County in partnership between Regional Tourism Organization 7, Simcoe County, City of Barrie, City of Orillia, Town of Collingwood and MusicCO.

The announcement that funding has been secured to develop a 3-year music strategy for Barrie & Simcoe County (including Collingwood, Orillia, and many other municipalities) was made at Staying in Tune, a music summit hosted by the City of Barrie and MusicCO on October 24.

To inform the strategy, Nordicity and CultureCap are conducting a survey to gather as much information as possible about the regional music scene, and the two organizations have also been engaged to produce the final report.

Feedback is being sought from songwriters, musicians, venues, festivals, studios, record companies, fans and everyone else involved in the Simcoe County music industry. The survey website states that they would like opinions on:

  • What’s great about the local music scene, and what could be better.
  • How are you involved in the music scene? We’re gathering detailed statistics to better inform decision-making and illustrate all the activity out there.
  • Most of all, we’re looking for fresh thinking about how to make Simcoe County a better place for music!

To complete the survey, visit the Barrie-Simcoe Music Strategy survey website. For additional information or questions, you can email


Playback 2017: Executive Vice President Amy Terrill launches Music Canada’s inaugural annual review site

Playback is not only the new name for Music Canada’s annual industry dialogue and celebration, it is also the name of our inaugural annual review publication.

On October 17, at the first Playback event, Music Canada’s Executive Vice President, Amy Terrill, launched the Playback 2017 site and highlighted some of Music Canada’s accomplishments from the past 12 months described in the publication.

Watch the full video below, and for a fuller picture of Music Canada’s work in the past year, check out the Playback 2017 website.

Below is a selection of photos from the Playback 2017 year in review.


Musical instrument lending library to launch in Barrie, Ontario, on October 1

On Sunday, October 1, Barrie will be the latest Canadian city to open a musical instrument lending library. The Huronia Symphony Orchestra and The Barrie Public Library are partnering on the project, with the generous support of the County of Simcoe and MusicPro Barrie. In addition to the lending library, the project will include youth drop in programs, intended to help young musicians network and learn from one another and local musicians.

The project will launch with a Grand Opening Celebration at the downtown branch of the Barrie Public Library that will feature performances by members of the Huronia Symphony Orchestra, as well as special guest performances by Jason McCoy of The Roadhammers and country singer/songwriter Dani Strong. The celebration is free and open to everyone, and will also include a musical instrument petting zoo and other activities.

The team behind the project is planning to expand the program to Orillia and other libraries in the region so that a greater number of young people, cultural organizations, and adults are able to access musical instruments and learning opportunities.

Barrie music lovers, anyone looking to learn a new instrument, or anyone curious is encouraged to attend the Grand Opening Celebration, happening from 2-4pm at 60 Worsley Street in downtown Barrie.


Polyphonic Ground seeks input on diversity in Toronto’s live music industry

On July 19, a new initiative called Polyphonic Ground was announced, with the aim of strengthening Toronto’s culturally-diverse music industry. The initiative is spearheaded by Small World Music, and is composed of 12 Toronto live music presenters: Ashkenaz Foundation, Batuki Music Society, Good Kind Productions, iNative, Link Music Lab, Lula Music & Arts Centre, MonstrARTity Creative Community, Music Africa, Revolutions Per Minute, Small World Music Society, Uma Nota Culture, and World Fiddle Day Toronto. The collective plans to foster engagement with a monthly collaborative concert series and diverse professional development programming.

In partnership with Music Ontario, City Hall Live, Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Movement Ontario (CPAMO) and Music Canada Live, Polyphonic Ground will be hosting a series of conversations about diversity in the live music industry. To inform these conversations, and ensure as many voices as possible are heard, Polyphonic Ground has launched an online survey.

The survey states:

The lack of gender and cultural diversity reflected by the larger Toronto music industry has been a hot topic of late. Ad hoc conversations around these issues have taken place at recent panels and forums focused on topics such as venue closures, noise bylaws, the media etc. However, there have been few opportunities to deal with these issues head on and explore how inequities can be addressed.

Have your say and help shape these important conversations. The survey closes Friday, August 11th at 5pm.

Complete Polyphonic Ground’s Diversity & Live Music Conversation Series Survey.

For more information on Polyphonic Ground, check out the press release and follow their Twitter and Facebook pages.

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