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UMC to open new venue in Toronto

Toronto’s beleaguered grassroots venue scene will be given a shot in the arm by major label Universal Music Canada (UMC) late next next year when it moves its headquarters to a new office in the city’s Liberty Village district.

The new, environmentally friendly HQ, at 80 Atlantic Avenue – Toronto’s first new timber-framed commercial building “in a generation” – will serve as a “community hub for artists, media partners and music audiences”, says UMC president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios, incorporating performance areas, recording facilities and promotional spaces for artists.

“Eighty Atlantic will mark a new phase in the growth and evolution of Toronto’s music community, enabling artists to fully refine their craft here at home rather than resorting to exporting it raw for others to finish before bringing to market,” said Remedios at a launch event last week.

“This is the kind of creativity and innovation that I want to see in every corner of Toronto”

Remedios also outlined his vision for transforming UMC, a division of Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, from a traditional into a “music-focused media company whose address could become as rooted in Toronto’s character as the Capitol Records tower in Los Angeles, Motown’s house in Detroit, Chess Records in Chicago or Factory Records in Manchester.”

Mayor John Tory, who has previously spoken of his commitment to “supporting [Toronto’s] live music venues”, many of which have closed in recent months, praised UMC as “a company that’s being innovative”, adding: “This is the kind of creativity and innovation that I want to see in every corner of Toronto.”

City councillors in April voted unanimously to make Toronto a ‘music city’, accepting the music strategy devised by the Toronto Music Advisory Council, a 36-member coalition of promoters, agents, labels and city officials.

UMC’s new offices are expected to open in late 2018.

 


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Toronto mayor commits to venue protection

Following a string of recent closures, the mayor of Toronto, John Tory, has said the city “remains committed to supporting live music venues”.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Tory said his council is “very aware” of the recent closures – all in the past month – of venues including Hugh’s Room, Soybomb and The Hoxton and “share[s] the disappointment of musicians, music fans and the music community at these recent announcements. Most of all, we would like the music community to know that we take the matter extremely seriously and are actively taking steps to present it.”

The statement is co-signed by councillors Joe Cressy and Josh Colle, the latter also chairman of the Toronto Music Advisory Council. Colle last month introduced a motion to Toronto City Council – since passed – calling for a comprehensive strategy for venue protection, taking inspiration from cities such as London, Melbourne and Austin, Texas.

“We understand that is has become more difficult for music venues to find and hold onto affordable, accessible spaces, especially in Toronto’s downtown neighbourhoods,” continued Tory. “Together with TMAC [the Toronto Music Industry Advisory Council] and other partners, the city is already considering a number of recommendations addressing music venue protection, pop-up venues and the overall health of the night-time economy.

“We would like the music community to know that we take the matter extremely seriously and are actively taking steps to present it”

“In doing so, we are continually studying how any success stories from other cities might work in Toronto – because the same difficulties our music sector is experiencing here are also being seen across the world in many other cities, including the music alliance partner city of Austin, Texas.”

Colle adds he’s “pleased that the city and industry and working together to protect venues”.

The next TMAC meeting is on 13 February. Members will provide suggestions to the council about further steps the city can take protect its venues.

In addition to the passing of Colle’s motion, measures already taken by Toronto include the protection of the historic Silver Dollar Room (250-cap.) – also recently threatened with closure – and asking city staff to focus on helping the night-time economy.

 


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