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The world’s leading promoters & the 55 top markets they operate in.
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Finally emerging out of pandemic-related restrictions, Canada’s music scene is livelier than ever. With blockbuster tours from Beyoncé and Bruce Springsteen making multiple stops across the country and six Toronto shows from Taylor Swift on the books, Canada is also home to a bilingual grassroots scene and renowned music festivals.
The live music sector is segmented around the local and provincial level, with most activity taking place on the coast. Live Nation is the leading national operator as it can operate across the vast Canadian landscape. It is actively expanding its venue portfolio, including acquiring The Opera House in Toronto, The KEE to Bala on Lake Muskoka in Bala, and the coast-to-coast network of venues from Great Canadian Entertainment.
On the East Coast, Sonic Concerts operates around Nova Scotia, while Collective Concerts leads in Ontario. Gestev and evenko dominate in Quebec, while Lawnya Vawnya leads in Newfoundland and Labrador province.
In the west, F7 Entertainment — the newest national entrant on the scene — operates out of Calgary. The largest independent promoter, MRG Live, has offices across Canada and promotes roughly 500 shows per year, for artists such as Sabrina Carpenter and Steve Lacy.
“There are so many great artists out there, and we want to be part of their journey and connect them with fans, so continuing to develop our relationships and servicing those stakeholders is the constant improvement we’re focused on.”
“There are so many great artists out there, and we want to be part of their journey and connect them with fans, so continuing to develop our relationships and servicing those stakeholders is the constant improvement we’re focused on,” says Jacob Smid, MRG Live COO.
In Quebec, Montréal-based evenko promoted events for 50 Cent, Lionel Richie, and Guns N’ Roses recently and will welcome Hozier and Pink before the year is out. Last year, it welcomed 2.6m fans and continues to promote over 1,500 events annually.
This year’s edition of the evenko-promoted Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in Montréal, headlined by Billie Eilish, Kendrick Lamar, and Rüfüs Du Sol, brought in a record-breaking 155,000 attendees. The three-day showcase wasn’t a one-off success either — evenko had massive audiences across their festivals, with LASSO Montréal doubling attendance from its debut last year and îLESONIQ hosting 65,000 fans.
One new approach to event promotion evenko is taking is to utilise fans and artists as brand ambassadors or spokespeople, like singer Britanny Kennell’s for LASSO, positioned to “get our key messages across in an organic and fun way,” says Ema Polifroni, evenko’s director of marketing and promotions.
However, Canada is still facing issues beyond its control. Wildfires have been a widespread problem, with festivals including the Live Nation-promoted Kimchi Festival in Saskatoon being cancelled and others like the British Columbia-based Deep Roots Festival being postponed until next spring.
Inflation rates rose to 3.3% in July — higher than analyst forecasts of 3%, according to Reuters — while supply chain and labour issues still impact the cost of business, which is “exponentially high”.
Inflation rates rose to 3.3% in July — higher than analyst forecasts of 3%, according to Reuters — while supply chain and labour issues still impact the cost of business, which is “exponentially high,” says Erin Benjamin, CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association.
With red tape being increasingly prohibitive, along with the instability of provincial and federal funds, it may be harder for new promoters, companies, and artists to enter the scene.
“Government partnerships are critically important to the live music sector,” Benjamin says. “If there is less support and/ or major reductions in funding beyond what we’re experiencing today, the fear is that fewer artists and other live music companies will enter the creative space in the first place.”
Yet, she says the resilience of Canadians through the trials and tribulations of the post-pandemic landscape is pushing the revitalisation of the national brand.
“This community is galvanised and united like never before, demonstrating how and why live music activity helps governments to meet domestic and international economic, social, and cultural goals. We’re a strong economic partner and getting stronger all the time,” Benjamin says.