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Tag archive: The Rambler (16)

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Thoughts on Minister Melanie Joly’s speech to the Economic Club of Canada

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

This article was originally published on www.grahamhenderson.ca

On 9 June 2016, Minister of Heritage, Melanie Joly addressed the Economic Club of Canada on the topic of “Canada’s Culture Dividend: The Creative Sector As Economic Driver.”  I believe this was her first public, policy-oriented speech and it is significant that she chose the Economic Club as the venue.  As a sponsor of the event, Music Canada was afforded a podium opportunity to thank the Minister and reflect on her remarks.  Before we get to what I said then, I will draw attention to a few important aspects of her speech. Unfortunately, and for reasons I do not understand, this important speech has not yet been published by the Minister’s office, so I cannot link to it.  An official request has been made by Music Canada.

MJ

The Minister put on a bravura display which showcased an extraordinary grasp of a complex topic.  Clearly much thought had gone into what she said.  She was conversant with all of the facts and figures and conveyed the important message that culture is big business in Canada.  She noted that government support for the arts should not just be about funding – that funding was only part of the answer.  She bluntly stated that cultural policy in Canada needed a “new toolbox.” and pledged to create it.  This is one of the most prescient and important undertakings that any Heritage Minister in memory has made, and with a mandated review of the Copyright Act coming in 2017, it will be very interesting to see how the Minister intends to put her words into meaningful action.

There was one interesting moment in the event that actually took place during my remarks.  I was in the process of discussing the music industries transition from an analogue to digital economy. I had pointed out the extent to which we had embraced this evolution but then remarked that the Government needed to work together with the creative community “to ensure one critical result: appropriate remuneration of artists for their work.” This drew a veritable storm of sustained applause that even surprised me – I hope this is something the Minister and her staff noticed.

For all of the positives in her speech, there were some very surprisingly sour notes. The entire literary world was completely ignored; a fact that drew a measured but forceful rebuke from a member of the audience during the question and answer period. A question from a member of the fashion industry about whether or not the Minister considered fashion design to be a part of Canada’s cultural mosaic was met with what amounted to a flat out “no”. It is hard to understand why, say, videos games are considered to be “cultural” products but fashion designs are not. A question about just how substantive the government intended its mandated 2017 copyright review to be was met with a surprisingly inchoate response.  I would have thought that a Minister of a government in search of a new “toolbox” would have responded to that question with an emphatic “We intend our review to be VERY substantive.”

Overall it was a very satisfying speech which introduced the cultural community to a Minister with vision and passion who clearly desires to cast herself in the role of a champion.

Now, as to my speech, I spoke extemporaneously from bullet points and notes scribbled during the Minister’s speech.  What follows is the transcribed text of my remarks with a few amendments to clarify grammar!


I’m Graham Henderson. I’m from Music Canada, and it’s my honour to thank the Minister and offer some brief thoughts on her remarks.  I guess if I had been asked to do a formal review, I could do it in one word: “wow.” Minister Joly, you managed in a very short period of time to demonstrate your grasp of the importance of the cultural industries to our economy. I won’t go into all of the economic details – we are all familiar with them: for example the fact that culture represents 3% of our GDP. This amounts to a 55 billion dollar contribution to our nation’s GDP each year.  But beyond this, thanks to pioneering work being done by Music Canada, we now understand that culture’s contribution to our society is so much more complex.  Music for example has an enormous impact on the quality of life in our communities. And, as you recognize, government contributions to this sector represent an investment, and not just a financial outlay – there is an enormous return on that investment.  Additionally, as you have observed, culture is a key component of “Brand Canada.” In many respects culture is a gift to the people of Canada, and we are not doing enough to incorporate it into Brand Canada, and celebrate it around the world.

I was also very, very pleased to hear your call for more investment from business in the cultural sector. Also I was pleased by your references to and emphasis on the humanities.  The humanities underpin everything that we do, and actually, are under threat here and around the world. As you probably know, Republican governors across the United States are calling for the removal of state funding for students seeking an education in the humanities. Here in Canada the last Government financially supported an excellent STEM initiative called “Let’s Talk Science.” Well, in response to the comment that you made about the importance of the humanities, perhaps your government could introduce a program called “Let’s Talk Humanities;” a program geared to interest our young people in an education in that sector and turn STEM into STEAM!

This year is a good year for music. It’s the first year in almost two decades that there has been an uptick in our revenue picture. Global growth is up three percent. Music consumption is exploding, particularly through the streaming services. This is great news and it reflects an industry that is adapting to the rapid transformation of technology.  However, it requires us to continue to work together to ensure one critical result: appropriate remuneration of artists for their work.

I think everyone in this room looks forward to working with you in the coming months on the legislative review of the Copyright Act. This must not be a pro forma review. This needs to be meaningful. We have fourteen years of experience to guide us.

Now, in concluding, I am going to do something I always try to do whenever I’m speaking in public! I try to work in some of the ideas of my favourite poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, which I’m going to do now. In this case, given some of the things the Minister has said, I think it’s exceedingly appropriate.

Shelley

Sketch of Shelley drawn by Edward Ellerker Williams. 1821-22. In my view the only extant image that captures the man.

Shelley wrote a defence of creativity almost two hundred years ago to which he gave the title “A Defence of Poetry.” When Shelley wrote this, he was responding to a pointed attack on poetry itself, but I like think of the essay as a defense of creativity in general.  In it, Shelley lists some of the important contributions of science and economics, but he then goes on to say,

“…it exceeds all imagination to conceive what would have been the moral condition of the world if neither Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Calderon, Lord Bacon, nor Milton, had ever existed; if Raphael and Michael Angelo had never been born.”

And this feeds in directly to his conclusions.  Shelley writes:

“Poets are the hierophants of an unapprehended inspiration; the mirrors of the gigantic shadows which futurity casts upon the present; the words which express what they understand not; the trumpets which sing to battle, and feel not what they inspire; the influence which is moved not, but moves. Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.”

When Shelley speaks of “poets,” I believe here he means creators; and when he says they are legislators, he doesn’t mean they’re lawyers, he doesn’t mean they’re necessarily politicians. What I think he is saying is that creators predict our future, they underpin our future, and they create a framework for our future. And this is why I am excited about what Minister Joly has said.  The Minister intuitively understands this. The Minister sees that creators are deserving of our respect and protection.  I am so glad to see that we actually have with us an elected legislator who sees that it is our poets who are the true legislators of the world.

Thank you.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: 3 Ways John Tory’s Announcement Will Help Toronto’s Music Sector

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting South by Southwest in Austin, TX, as part of the delegation that included Mayor John Tory, Councillors Michael Thompson and Josh Colle, as well as Zaib Shaikh and Mike Tanner from the City of Toronto, Jeff Cohen of Collective Concerts, Sari Delmar of Audio Blod, Jesse Kumagai of Live Nation, and my Music Canada colleague Amy Terrill, and I am pleased to see the mission bearing fruit as this week the Mayor announced the steps the City of Toronto will take to better utilize the terrific competitive advantage that music offers our city.

The mayor ran on a platform that specifically included music, which was an amazing first for Toronto. By choosing to make his first business mission all about music, the Mayor not only demonstrated his belief in the importance of music to Toronto, but he also sent a strong signal to Toronto’s music community that he intends to make good on his promises. Many of the changes that Mayor Tory promised this week are very achievable and will bring swift improvements to the livelihood of Toronto’s artists and others working in the music sector, and in turn, benefit the entire city.

For example, Mr. Tory announced that he will conduct a thorough review of existing city bylaws and the permitting policies that affect music events and musicians. There are many small steps that can be taken to remove red tape, which will have an immediate impact on Toronto musicians and venues. A perfect example: last Friday I attended an excellent show at Hugh’s Room, and was dismayed to learn that the venue received a $490 fine for a poster on a nearby utility pole.

Who does this help? It makes it harder for the venue to operate, certainly. For many venues, it would wipe out their profits for the night – too many of those, and they may decide it’s not worth the hassle and close their doors. Fortunately, Mayor Tory has recognized that this type of red tape counters our efforts to establish Toronto as a Music City. During Monday’s press conference he stated: “We will miss opportunities where our own talent will get impatient with us and go somewhere else.” This is very true, and I am glad the Austin example has impressed the importance of City Hall working in concert with the music sector on the Mayor.

The Mayor also spoke of the need to promote Toronto specifically as a music destination for tourists. This was one of the key recommendations from our Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas report, and Music Canada has already started down this path with the creation of the 4479 initiative, which celebrates what makes Toronto one of the greatest music cities in the world: the music, the people, the places, and the city. Mr. Tory identified several opportunities to include a strong music presence in large Toronto events that the City is already taking part in, such as the Pan Am Games, Pride, and Caribana. The Mayor also spoke of looking into public-private partnerships in this space, which presents many opportunities. For example, Tourism Toronto has been a fantastic champion of the power of music tourism, highlighting local music offerings in their 2014 and 2015 editions of their flagship Toronto Magazine. A coordinated music tourism promotion campaign would also dovetail very nicely with Ontario’s Live Music Strategy, which is strengthening the live music scene across the province. At his announcement, the Mayor mentioned Austin’s live music guidebook and smart phone app, which helps tourists find live music easily in the city, helping promote local artists and venues. OntarioLiveMusic.ca, which was developed by Music Canada under contract to the Ontario government, provides a comprehensive listing of live music in Ontario – the Toronto data could be localized and licensed for the City’s use to quickly create a comprehensive listing for Toronto.

Another major point from Mr. Tory’s announcement was how a strong music scene can benefit businesses in other sectors. “The table stakes for economic development in cities like Toronto and Austin is the ability to compete successfully for talent,” said Mayor Tory. “I have been to Austin and I have seen how creative sectors like music, film and technology drive economic growth, job creation, investment and tourism – and help attract and retain young talent. If we’re going to bring more jobs, and attract and keep world class talent in Toronto, we need to focus on promoting and growing our creative sectors and this summit will be critical to that process.”

This is an important point, and something that we learned through our research with the Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC) last year. The ICTC report, Music – A Catalyst For Technology Hubs And Innovative Talent, found that a strong cultural scene can be a significant advantage for a city looking to retain the creative and innovative workers that today’s creative industries require. Austin has utilized this strategy very effectively, and now makes music an explicit part of their economic development pitch to tech companies. We have also completed research in Alberta, and found that a strategic approach to developing their music sector could lead to economic diversification, and help attract the young, affluent workers that other industries desperately need. Currently, Music Canada is developing a report that examines global best practices for music sector development, which will be released this summer.

Mayor Tory also outlined several other steps and goals in driving economic development through music, including:

  • Hosting a summit with business and key music industry stakeholders from Toronto and Austin this fall
  • Strengthen the City’s Entertainment Industries Office to assist in putting music on a growth path similar to that of film.
  • Explore the opportunity in the initiation/expansion of an interactive conference similar to the SXSW Interactive Festival

As always, it will take both effort and commitment to achieve these goals. But as our research indicates, the benefits will make our efforts worthwhile – both for our musicians and those working in the music sector, and for the community at large. Mayor Tory has shown that he recognizes the opportunities that the music sector presents, and he has sent a strong signal that he intends to achieve these goals. I am glad to have a strong champion of music at City Hall, and I look forward to working together to harness the power of music in Toronto.

 

Graham Henderson is the President and CEO of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: The Next Big Bang in Kitchener-Waterloo

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Earlier this month I gave a presentation on The Next Big Bang to the ultra-organized music community in Kitchener-Waterloo. They seem to have ALL the right pieces in place and enormous drive and ambition.

You can visit the Music Works to see the great work the K-W community is doing to accelerate their local music cluster.

The Next Big Bang is Music Canada’s new report identifying programs and public policies to stimulate the development of Canada’s commercial music sector, available for download here.


My thanks to Silvia Di Donato, Manager of Arts and Culture at the City of Kitchener for the invitation to speak, and to Earl McCluskie, producer with Chestnut Hall Music for uploading the video.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: In Conversation with Colin James

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

In my first turn in the interviewer’s chair, I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to talk with Colin James as he celebrates 25 years in the music business. Colin has dedicated his life’s work to exploring rock, blues, and swing music, and he has been a key contributor to Canada’s music scene. He’s a six-time JUNO Award winner and the recipient of seventeen Maple Blues Awards, and was inducted to the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame last week during Canadian Music Week.

Special thanks to Jeff Cohen at Collective Concerts for allowing us shoot the video at Lee’s Palace, one of Toronto’s great live music venues.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Shining a Light on Brand Supported Piracy

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

As Rambler readers will know, I have been monitoring Google’s promise to downgrade pirate sites in their search rankings since it was announced last August. I was initially skeptical about Google’s push, but willing to give them credit for this ‘better late than never’ effort. However, I was soon disappointed as my research showed that time and time and time again, licensed music sites and services were buried beneath dozens of links to dodgy sites that exploit artists’ work for financial gains. Unfortunately, Google’s 2010 claim that they would remove piracy related search terms from their Auto-complete feature was also exposed as bunk.

My findings were backed up today as the RIAA released their Google Report Card, a new document that shows how ineffective Google’s change was. The takeaway is clear: “Six months later, we have found no evidence that Google’s policy has had a demonstrable impact on demoting sites with large amounts of piracy. These sites consistently appear at the top of Google’s search results for popular songs or artists.”

Since Google’s pledge to downgrade pirate sites in their search rankings has been shown to be a complete farce, you’ll have to forgive me for taking their latest announcement with a handful of salt. According to the sparse details in the Telegraph, the Palo Alto search giant will now look to cut off financial payments to illegal download sites. Ellen Seidler, the independent filmmaker who became a reluctant advocate in the fight against piracy after finding her film hosted on thousands of illegal sites funded by advertising, has also announced her skepticism about Google’s latest move, asking “how much is just PR posturing versus real action?” Seidler’s blog, Pop-Up Pirates, has been documenting examples of brand supported for nearly three years.

Of course, there is a reason that these pirate sites are created: they make money from the advertisements. As Seidler said at Canadian Music Week’s Global Forum in 2011, “Online piracy isn’t about altruism, it’s about income.” Seidler’s presentation thoroughly explained how “legit” companies (such as ad service providers, advertisers, and payment processors) encourage and facilitate this theft while profiting from it. You can see video from her presentation on her Vimeo page.

Some of the screenshots below provide an example of how major brands are encouraging mass piracy by financing sites with their advertising dollars:

Here, Bell is supporting the exploitation of The Dears by placing an ad next to pirated copies of their album on 4Shared, a site that has received hundreds of thousands of copyright removal requests in the past month.

Bell - TheDears - 4Shared

Here, Lysol buys advertising on a page illegally distributing Drake’s Grammy award winning album ‘Take Care’:

Drake - Lysol - SongsloverIn this screenshot, the History Network funds advertisements next to pirated copies of The Tragically Hip’s music:

History Network - Tragically Hip - 4SharedOne of the most prominent critics of this ad-supported piracy is David Lowery of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven fame. Lowery will be one of the keynote speakers at the 2013 Global Forum at Canadian Music Week, which is coming up on March 22nd and is proudly sponsored by Music Canada.

Lowery has emerged as one of the most articulate voices championing artist rights in the digital age, penning a series of blogs at The Trichordist, including Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered and Meet The New Boss, Worse Than The Old Boss?.

The Trichordist has kickstarted discussion in this area, notably by launching a ‘name and shame’ campaign highlighting brands advertising on pirate sites. Music Canada has joined the campaign, tweeting at one brand per day to draw their attention to the problem. Canadian labels Last Gang Records and Six Shooter Records have also tweeted their support, as has the Featured Artist Coalition. The campaign has been gaining attention, and top brands have responded by ensuring their advertisements do not appear on pirate sites. For example, Levi’s was quick to respond to the news their ads were appearing next to pirated content. “When our ads were running unbeknownst to us on these pirate sites, we had a serious problem with that,” said Gareth Hornberger, Levi’s senior manager of global digital marketing. “We reached out to our global ad agency of record, OMD, and immediately had them remove them…. We made a point, moving forward, that we really need to take steps to avoid having these problems again.”

Also keynoting the Global Forum this year will be Chris Ruen, author of the new book, ‘Freeloading: How Our Insatiable Appetite for Free Content Starves Creativity’, which is an essential read for those working in the music industry.

Chris Castle will reprise his role as master of ceremonies at the 2013 Global Forum, which is sure to be an engaging conversation. I’d also like to announce that for the first time in the event’s history, the 2013 Global Forum will be streamed online and will encourage interaction through social media – which will hopefully bring the issue of brand supported piracy further into the mainstream discussion and encourage more brands to ensure they do not encourage or facilitate the exploitation of artists’ work.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Analyzing Premier Wynne’s Inaugural Throne Speech’s Impact on Music

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

After having gone MIA for a few weeks in terms of my contributions to the Rambler, I am back with an analysis of Premier Wynne’s inaugural throne speech.

The last few months have been good ones for music in Ontario. Under the leadership of Minister Michael Chan, the Ontario government launched an ambitious plan to turn Ontario into one of THE global destination for music tourism. And with good reason. Music tourism is Ontario’s hidden, un-accessed super power, fueled by our live music scene. This is timely and visionary because the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, just this week, identified Canada’s poor performance in the tourism sector as one of our top 10 barriers to competitiveness. You can read about Ontario’s plan here.

So what do we know about Ontario? We know from our economic impact study that there are more than 7400 employed in live music in Canada, and we have estimated that over HALF of them are here. We know that we have one of the largest, most diverse music scenes in the world. That gives us a built in advantage. We know from the Discovering Ontario report that tourism is the largest employer of young people in this province. We know from a report by the Ontario Arts Council that 9.5 million overnight tourists to Ontario participated in arts and culture activities during their trips in 2010. For almost half of them music was the motivation for their trip. It is also a fact that arts and culture tourists stay longer and spend more. And that’s without a coordinated marketing plan. Imagine what we could do if we had a plan and devoted even modest resources to this? Well, that plan in underway NOW.

Last Friday I was honoured to have been invited to Premier Wynne’s first “Jobs Roundtable”. Meeting participants were asked to share their insights and recommendations on what the government and businesses can do together to create jobs – particularly for youth – in the immediate term. I had three specific, achievable recommendations in the areas of tax credits, music tourism and music education. All of which seemed to have been very well received.

Then today came the Throne Speech which included, likely for the first time in history, a mention of music. While the reference was muted, it nonetheless came in a key economic section and in the same breathe as sectors that have long enjoyed powerhouse status in Ontario, automotive and agriculture. Here is the reference:

“[The Government] will look to stimulate productivity across all sectors, from automotive and agriculture to film, music, and digital media; from small business to start-ups and social entrepreneurs.”

The proposals we have put in front of the Government would help to do exactly this, and in an achievable, manageable way. Ontario’s music cluster is ripe for growth. Over 80 percent of the economic activity of the sound recording industry in Canada takes place here. This sector is one of Ontario’s competitive advantages, as the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has noted. Revenues for the Ontario sound recording industry totaled $408 million in 2010. Ontario has not yet fully capitalized on the strategic advantage it enjoys in the global music industry. Targeted provincial support is needed. According to an independent analysis, strategic productivity and jobs-focused supports for Ontario’s sound recording industry would trigger 60 million dollars in additional spending, generate 1,300 new jobs and result in almost $300 million in new economic output. This proposal was highlighted in the Ontario Chamber’s Emerging Stronger 2.0 document.

While music was not specifically mentioned again, arts and culture was highlighted as one of the aspects of our society that makes Ontario a great place to live:

“It will prove once again that Ontario is a great place to work and live, but also to visit, to invest in, to believe in. It will celebrate our hard work, our ingenuity, our diversity, our arts and culture, and protect the beauty of our natural environment.”

And this is the message that we have delivered repeatedly to all levels of government for the past year or more. Arts and culture and in particular music, serve to both attract and retain talented people. This in turn has a significant impact on business recruitment, retention, and expansion, as well as local entrepreneurship. An economic plan that stimulates the music community will in turn help to stimulate the economy at large. The Throne Speech noted that creative jobs are in every region of Ontario noting as an example that “We have authors and artists and actors in Timmins…”

On the subject of education, the Throne Speech noted that:

“Our young people will experience a world of which we can now only dream, and we must all work together to ensure they are equipped with the appropriate tools for their time. They must be literate in the languages of tomorrow; encouraged to pursue the paths of their choosing and prepared for the challenges ahead. We must emphasize critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and an entrepreneurial spirit.”

What is encouraging here is that while not specifically mentioned, music education is widely regarded as a key component in developing young minds and preparing them for careers in not just music, but in science, technology and mathematics. But as I pointed out at the Jobs Roundtable, music education is Ontario’s abandoned “game changer”. There are many people reading this who will understand me when I point out that music has a transformative power to open minds, to enhance collaborative skills and to change lives. Highly successful people in various fields, including Commander Chris Hadfield, have spoken of the important role music education played in preparing them for their career. It should not be discarded and lost in the shuffle. Music Canada recently announced a major donation to music education through our partners at MusiCounts. A $250,000 dollar grant to acquire musical instruments for at risk music programmes. You can read about it here.

Our hope, therefore, is that this government will easily grasp the role music can play in helping to achieve its educational objectives. We will certainly stand ready to help.

All in all, another great day for music in Ontario.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Still Searching for Results in Google’s Wasteland of Illegal Sites and Takedown Notices

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

As readers will know Google announced in August that they were going to update to their search algorithm in an effort to push pirate sites down in rankings. While it sounded like a good thing I decided to periodically undertake a reality check. My early tests suggested that nothing had actually happened – there were no change in the rankings. It was starting to feel like Google has just made another empty promise to help creators. Later I blogged how Google let Grooveshark back into their App Store – a decision which seemed incomprehensible given their publicly stated desire to enhance the results for legal music sources. Then there came Google’s promise to remove pirate sites from Autocomplete returns; a promise that was also shown to be more talk than action.

So I took a moment to see how Canada’s Carly Rae Jepsen is faring a few weeks on. Where are the legal sites; is it easy to find legal sources for music? Well, you can see the mountains of DMCA take-down notices that have accumulated. By the second page, about half the returns are takedown notices. Is this Google’s way of helping?

CallMeMaybeBlog2

Google’s Transparency Report gives a glimpse into the problem – over 7.5 Million takedown notices in the past month. Here you will find the Vancouver-based isoHunt, ranked at #5 for most take-downs received – an ignominious distinction. Now, as an example, here is one of the DMCA notices sent by our British colleagues, the BPI. You can see they sent takedown notices to 20 sites on behalf of Interscope.

It is interesting to see how Google has chosen to handle these notices. Chilling Effects is a website that archives these takedown notices. Ellen Seidler has previously described this as a “clearly an ill-conceived attempt to intimidate those whose rights have actually been infringed.” A quick look at the sites that BPI was targeting shows that they clearly are not legitimate outlets – they are pirate organizations who distribute Jepsen’s work for their own profit.

CarlyRaeTakedownsUnfortunately the legitimate retailers are still hidden behind pages of pirate sites, plus the DMCA takedown links. Anyone interested in acquiring music legitimately has to wade through a wasteland of illegal sites and takedown notices. It is patently ridiculous. I would again compare the situation to that of someone interested in buying a Black and Decker toaster.

BlackandDecker2

Buyers are sent straight to a plethora of legal sites. Wouldn’t the web be a better place for artists, consumers, and digital entrepreneurs if search engines promoted legitimate sites instead of leaving them behind in the pirate site/takedown notice wasteland?

So, ten weeks in…Google’s promise to “help users find legitimate, quality sources of content more easily” has turned out to be as empty as we thought it was at the outset.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: A #RUSHTheVote update

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Earlier this month, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the nominees for the 2013 induction class, and for the first time, allowed music fans vote for the five artists they believe to be most deserving of induction. With nearly 25% of the vote, RUSH is currently leading the way in the online poll to determine the “fans’ ballot” that will be tallied along with the other ballots to choose the 2013 inductees! Following behind them are Deep Purple at 17% and Heart at 12%. Voting continues until December 3, so there’s still time to #RUSHTheVote and make sure this iconic Canadian band gets their due in the Rock Hall.

Canadians have taken up the challenge – including politicians at every level. Minister of Canadian Heritage James Moore helped get out the vote to his Twitter followers, as did MP Brian Masse. David Zimmer, MPP for Willowdale, the area where Geddy and Alex grew up, also promoted the #RUSHTheVote movement online as well as inside the Ontario legislature. At the municipal level, Toronto councillor & staunch music supporter Josh Colle helped spread the word online. Sunrise Records is hosting the poll on their site as well, which Universal Music’s deep catalog division is directing traffic to.

This outpouring of support is just another reminder of the impact and value our music has to Canadian culture. That’s something that’s always worth supporting and promoting, so please take a minute and help #RUSHTheVote!

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Music Tourism – Cranking it up a Notch

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

Music tourism is big business and represents a major opportunity for Toronto and Ontario. This is one of the primary conclusions from Music Canada’s study on accelerating the music industry in Toronto that we released in June this year. And people are taking notice.

In 2011, Music Canada commissioned two landmark studies. The first was designed to estimate the economic impact of the recorded music and live performance sectors in Canada. Music Canada retained the services of PwC to perform the former study and the Titan Music group to perform the latter.

The impact study was released publicly at our Annual General Meeting on June 13th in Toronto. Then, the following day, at NXNE, we released Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas. The two studies were designed to work together and to afford for the first time an understanding of the importance of recorded music and live performance to the economy of Ontario and, in particular, Toronto.

This is familiar history by now. What may not be known is the extent to which these studies have gained traction in the music community and at all levels of government. While the role our community plays in weaving the cultural fabric of our country is well understood in the general population and is understood by the federal government and to some extent at the provincial level, the importance of music as an economic driver in Canada was virtually unknown. Assistance was provided to the music community, not because it was thought to be an important economic actor, but because it was “the right thing to do”, because it was thought possible in this way to safeguard a distinctive Canadian culture. No government ever thought to assist the music community in the way, say, the film and the video game sectors are supported – because it is a large, vibrant, desirable economic actor. It’s the difference between looking at music as “art” or as “commerce” – a key difference noted in our second study between Toronto and Austin. In Toronto, and indeed in Ontario and Canada, the tendency is to look at music as “art”.

Well, the PwC study established beyond a doubt that music was about high quality jobs, largely focused in the younger demographic. It proved beyond a doubt that music had an economic impact and not just a cultural one. This is an impact that, by the way, extends far beyond our borders. I would argue that Canada, Ontario and Toronto have failed utterly (to their collective detriment) to recognize the importance of music to the cultural and economic cocktail that makes up “brand Canada”. The cultural and economic one-two punch of music makes it more than a lightweight, more than a middleweight, it makes music a HEAVYWEIGHT. Understanding this has helped us to bring music in from the “policy maker’s cold”; it has helped us to gain respect for our community; it has put us on the map.

And speaking of maps, one of the more stunning conclusions of the PwC study was that the majority of economic activity in the music sector is concentrated in Ontario and particularly the GTA: over 80% of it. For a province and a city desperate to differentiate themselves from other regions, a healthy and in the case of live performance, booming, music sector represents a godsend. Aside from the sort of intangible benefits that a thriving music sector can lend to a city (as so amply demonstrated in the writing of Richard Florida), aside from the jobs it can provide to enthusiastic young people, there is yet another aspect which has gone completely unnoticed and undervalued: music tourism.

The reason we commissioned our unprecedented “tale of two cities”, comparing the music scenes in Toronto and Austin, was to demonstrate exactly how valuable an asset music can be to a local economy. The Austin study demonstrated in a graphic manner what a community like Austin can do when it harnesses the economic potential of music: it is worth hundreds of millions to the economy, possibly billions.

Beginning in the late 1980s, and founded largely on two principal assets, Austin City Limits and the SXSW music festival, Austin developed a plan and worked what amounts to an economic miracle. The economic impact on the economy was astonishing, first measured at around 600 million dollars, it rapidly almost TRIPLED. Austin began marketing itself as the Live Music Capital of the World and ensured that visitors don’t go home without experiencing live music.

The result? Nearly half of all economic activity generated by the commercial music sector in Austin is music tourism – about $800 million in 2010. Austin’s two largest music events, South by Southwest Film, Interactive and Music Conference, and Austin City Limits Festival, each grew by $25 million per year from 2005 to 2010. A whopping 20% of the economic activity generated in ALL tourism in Austin is attributed to music tourism.

Now, imagine what Toronto and Ontario could do….if they only understood the nature of the asset and had a plan. As the study’s authors pointed out, Toronto starts from a place far ahead of where Austin is even now. Toronto has the 4th largest number of live music establishments per capita in North America; we have world class recording studios; we produce international stars who have received their start in the Toronto music scene, creating a bevy of musical “landmarks” for the avid fan; Toronto is home to the head offices of all three major labels and 16 of the largest domestic independent labels. Any night of the week you can find music of every genre, from every Diaspora of the world – performed at famous, brilliantly equipped venues such as the Horseshoe Tavern and the Molson Amphitheatre. Toronto is, without a doubt, the music capital of Canada and one of the great music centres of the world.

People already travel to Toronto to see concerts, festivals and to experience the myriad of diverse live music events the city offers. This organic activity has created a strong foundation. It’s time to crank it up a notch or two.

It’s time to INVITE people to our city to experience live music.

This idea has galvanized two levels of government. At the City of Toronto, the Economic Development Committee, with strong leadership from Councillors Thompson, Colle and Carroll, received the Austin study with enthusiasm, sending it to staff with a demand that they bring forward recommendations. Support has been voiced across the political spectrum at council and right to the Mayor’s office. At the Provincial level, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, The Honourable Michael Chan, who seems to be remaking himself as the “music minister”, similarly sought ideas from his staff about how to harness the power of music tourism. My impression is that at both levels of government, the uptake is moving at near light speed. Both City and Province are behaving in an exemplary, entrepreneurial and business-like manner.

One very concrete example of our progress can be found here.  For the first time Ontario Tourism has undertaken a specific focus on music. Their fall travel guide highlights live music events in Ontario – music festivals, concerts and clubs get profiled beside some of the more traditional features like fall driving trips and wine and culinary experiences. Though surprisingly slower on the uptake, Toronto Tourism seems to be recognizing the potential as well. In a recent interview on Here and Now, Andrew Weir of Tourism Toronto mentioned the music scene as a key attraction for overseas visitors.

Toronto and Ontario have one of the most active and most diverse live music markets in the world. It’s time we started telling someone. The new, global digital environment has changed the rules of the game for all of us. In the music industry, we need a new industrial strategy. Music tourism represents an enormous opportunity to stimulate the live music sector, generating more activity, gigs and dollars, and thereby creating a healthier, more vibrant music industry for all. Our country’s musicians are under unprecedented pressure, it is increasingly difficult for them to make a living as professional musicians. One way we can help is to attract tourists to Ontario and Toronto….it could be the difference between two paying gigs and one, or one instead of none. The treasure is here. Let’s bring the world to Ontario to find it. We are home to one of the great musical wonders of the world.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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The Rambler by Graham Henderson: Sam Sniderman, “Et in arcadia ego”

Graham_headphones3Blog ThumbnailThe Rambler is a column by Graham Henderson, President of Music Canada. Graham writes from time to time about developments in the music industry, new trends or just about music! Let’s face it, Graham has been around for a long time and has a lot to ramble on about.

I don’t know why we find events like this shocking. We all knew Sam was very old, we all knew his health was declining, but when the news comes that an icon, someone who has inspired us our whole life, has died, it always hits us like a bolt out of the blue. The first reaction is invariably shock and disbelief which then settle into an over arching, brooding gloom that will often not lift for days. Flaubert wrote of this in Madame Bovary, saying, “Anyone’s death always releases something like an aura of stupefaction, so difficult is it to grasp the irruption of nothingness and to believe that it has actually taken place.” So it is with Sam.

Do I need to say his last name? Does anyone? If you said, “Sam is dead”, who in Toronto, who in Canada (of a certain age, at least), would not know immediately that you were referring to our Sam Sniderman, better known, perhaps, as Sam the Record Man.

Oddly, I never actually met Sam in my career as a music lawyer or industry “insider”. But I DID meet him as a fan, as a teenager in search of records, on the floor of that amazing music store – perhaps music warehouse is a more apt description. He seemed to be ubiquitous. He was unfailingly polite, and unfailingly customer-oriented and unfailingly RIGHT. He knew music inside out and could correctly answer any music question ever asked of him. And if he wasn’t there, one of his astoundingly knowledgeable employees was there to help in his place.

Anyone growing up in Toronto will have a Sam story. I grew up waaay out in the suburbs, so for me, the Sam era was ushered in with….the GO Train — in 1968 or so. The routine was simple. Up early, mom delivers a fast breakfast and you were out the door for the half hour walk to the train – in all weather. In Toronto, you disembark, grab the subway and trudge up the stairs at the Dundas station to emerge…..in the BIG CITY!! Wide eyed and breathless. And what did the big city, mean to, me? It meant Sam the Record Man. For hours I would coast up and down the aisles looking at album covers, asking questions, and eventually buying all too few records – restricted by a young boy’s allowance.

It was Sam who created the magic. Sam who had the vision. Sam who created a store like no others. Sam who literally defined an era. Sam, you will be mourned, and you will be missed but you will NEVER be forgotten. As the Romans would say in their spare, incisive language, “Ave atque Vale, Sam Sniderman”. Hail and Farewell. It falls now to us, those he left behind, to honour his memory with our recollections.

Graham Henderson is the President of Music Canada. He also writes on an eclectic range of topics on his personal blog at www.grahamhenderson.ca.

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