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A growing economy is providing Canadian consumers with more disposable income, a proportion of which is finding its way to live entertainment, reports Steve McLean
By IQ on 15 Dec 2017
Canada’s economy has led G7 nations in growth in 2017, and that momentum seems to have carried over to the live music industry to a large degree.
“It’s robust,” says Jim Cressman, president of Pentiction, British Columbia-based Invictus Entertainment Group, which books and promotes 500-700 concerts per year at multiple venues. “The right artist at the right price almost always does predictable business.”
Though no national study has yet been done on the live music industry, an economic impact analysis of the business in Ontario – Canada’s most populous province and home to the music hub of Toronto – illustrated how important it is. The Live Music Measures Up study showed that the industry was responsible for 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs in 2013 and that spending by live music companies and the tourism activity generated by music festivals together contributed just under C$1.2billion (€0.8bn) to Ontario’s gross domestic product.
Those numbers have likely increased, and can be extrapolated across the country, according to Erin Benjamin, executive director of Music Canada Live, which was created in the fall of 2014 to advance and promote the live music industry’s many economic, social and cultural benefits.
The concert industry received an extra boost in 2017 due to Canada’s sesquicentennial, as communities across the country often included live music in their celebrations of the nation’s 150th birthday.
While the Canadian recording industry has benefited from national sources of funding – including the Canada Music Fund, the Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings (FACTOR), Radio Starmaker Fund, VideoFACT, PromoFACT and the SOCAN Foundation – and broadcasters being legally obliged to play a minimum amount of Canadian content, the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government also provide grants for events and festivals where live music is a major component.
“That support really makes the Canadian music business the envy of the world, quite frankly,” says Jack Ross, who heads the newly opened Canadian office of the Los Angeles-based APA talent agency along with Ralph James.
The concert industry received an extra boost in 2017 due to Canada’s sesquicentennia
But that’s not stopping Music Canada Live and its more than 125 members – including concert promoters, festivals, presenters, venues, agents, ticketing companies, industry associations and suppliers – from advocating for policy advancement and increased funding, public awareness and research.
“Live music hasn’t effectively told its story with a united voice, and it’s my job to do that,” says Benjamin. “When we’re truly united by this association, whether it’s with me or ten executive directors from now, we will be the most powerful piece of Canada’s music industry because of the connection between artists and fans.”
Shawn Sakamoto, vice-president of Lethbridge, Alberta-based live event production and management company Sakamoto Entertainment, would like to see Canadian content regulations introduced to the domestic live music sector, which he believes has suffered due to “monopolisation of the touring market by entities such as Live Nation” and other multinational companies. He advocates Canadian artists being added to national tours by international performers in order to give them further exposure.
Confidence in Canada from American companies was shown this summer when, after LA-based United Talent Agency closed its Canadian office, APA and LA-based Paradigm Talent Agency both opened up shop in Toronto. They join the Feldman Agency and Paquin Artists Agency as Canada’s largest, while several smaller domestic agencies are also active.
“That competition is going to be a good thing for Canadian artists, and it will be a good thing for the music industry overall,” says Ross.
Continue reading this feature in the digital edition of IQ 74: