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Canadian Live Music Association launches

Canada’s national industry association, formerly known as Music Canada Live, has rebranded as the Canadian Live Music Association for 2019.

“This is an important milestone for our organisation,” explains Jesse Kumagai, chairman of the association’s board. “As Music Canada Live we were able to hit the ground running back in 2014, with great thanks to Music Canada for providing the support we needed to launch and grow as quickly as we did.

“Now, with over 200 members across the country and a clear mandate ahead of us, the time is right to establish our own distinct identity. Our new name and brand clearly reflect who we are and will strengthen our ability to advocate on behalf of our sector, our amazing members and deepen relationships with our many valued partners.”

In addition to the name change, Erin Benjamin, formerly Music Canada Live executive director, becomes president and CEO of the Canadian Live Music Association.

“We are helping to tell the story of live music in this country by championing the work of our members”

“We have achieved a remarkable amount of success in a very short time,” says Benjamin (pictured), “because live music is more important than ever, especially to artists. Our sector, in terms of Canadian music market revenues, is anticipating tremendous growth by 2021 and beyond.

“A robust association means a healthy industry. We are helping to tell the story of live music in this country by championing the work of our members, because when live music prospers, everybody benefits.”

The Canadian Live Music Association, formed as Music Canada Live in 2014, represents concert promoters, festivals, booking agencies, venues, clubs, arenas, performing arts centres, ticket agencies and other organisations and suppliers in Canada.

 


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$7.5m for music in BC

Building on Canada’s already impressive public funding programme for music, its third most populous province, British Columbia (BC), has announced Amplify BC, a C$7.5m (US$5.8m) to support the growth of the local music industry.

British Columbia is Canada’s third-largest music centre, with over 285 music companies, 160 recording studios and more than 200 music festivals across the province. The music business contributes approximately C$400m each year to the provincial economy.

According to the BC ministry of tourism, arts and culture, the Amplify BC programme will focus on four funding areas:

“The government’s commitment to the sector is exemplary”

“We listened carefully to advice from people involved in many facets of the music industry,” explains Lisa Beare, minister of tourism, arts and culture. “I’m excited that our government is creating this new funding programme designed to give artists and other music professionals the support needed so they can continue to grow.

“BC has a well-earned reputation for excellence in music production. This fund will help place BC talent on the world stage.”

Erin Benjamin, executive director of industry association Music Canada Live, says: “This is thrilling news, and so timely for the broader industry and artists. As we ready to release our Here, The Beat: the Economic Impact of Live Music in BC report this coming spring, which will demonstrate the value and impact of BC’s incredible live music community, we know that this meaningful support will ensure the momentum being built in the province can continue.

“The government’s commitment to the sector is exemplary.”

British Columbia in October 2016 launched the special event permit, a new event licence aimed at cutting red tape for promoters.

 


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‘The envy of the world’: How public funds boost Canadian music

Agent Jack Ross, the newly appointed co-head of APA in Canada, has hailed Canadian authorities’ support for music businesses as being key to the health of its thriving live music industry.

Speaking to IQ for issue 74’s Canada market report, Ross identifies the grants provided by federal, provincial and municipal governments for events where live music is a major component as a significant contributor to the success of Canada’s concert market, which at US$711m (C$907m) is the world’s seventh largest (see PwC figures from the ITY 2017).

“That support,” he says, “really makes the Canadian music business the envy of the world, quite frankly.”

“It’s robust,” agrees 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,” says Cressman, “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 – illustrates how important it is to the Canadian economy.

“The right artist at the right price almost always does predictable business”

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$1.2bn to Ontario’s gross domestic product.

While optimism was expressed by most people interviewed for the market report, the Canadian live music industry isn’t without its challenges. These include the secondary ticketing market, which the Ontario government is trying to curtail with new (albeit not universally supported) legislation, and the low value of the Canadian dollar compared to its American counterpart, which can in turn work to the advantage of homegrown artists who get paid in ‘loonies’.

“Every time we put an offer in for a US artist, a dollar is costing us C$1.35,” says Louis Thomas, president and owner of Sonic Entertainment Group, a Halifax, Nova Scotia-based concert promotion and artist management company that also owns a record label and recording studio. “That has a big impact on ticket prices, at the end of the day.”

Read the full market report, which focuses on Canada’s major promoters, venues, festivals and more, here.

 


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O Canada: market report

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:

Ontario drops proposed ticket transparency rules

The Canadian province of Ontario has abandoned plans for legislation that would have required ticket sellers to disclose how many tickets are available to the public for a given event seven days before they go on sale.

The measure was announced last month as part of a consumer protection bill that also provides for capping the price of resold tickets at 150% of face value; banning ticket bots and prohibiting the resale of bot-bought tickets; and requiring business selling or reselling tickets to disclose information including the capacity of the venue, the number of tickets on general on-sale and the original face-value ticket price.

While those measures remain largely uncontroversial, Ontario’s Liberal party government is to drop the transparency clause under pressure from artists and the industry, reveals the Globe and Mail, concluding that the rule “would be a disincentive for musicians, particularly small and medium acts, to tour the province”.

“Revealing ticket numbers could enable touts to better use bots to buy bulk tickets where they’re known to be scarce”

While some argue a lack of transparency around the amount of tickets actually on sale is a symptom of a “broken” ticket market – “The murky nature of how many tickets are ever available to the public makes the secondary resale market an easy scapegoat when fans fail to acquire tickets on regular sale,” argues TicketNews’s Sean Burns, “only to see immediate resale options at substantially higher prices on the secondary market” – promoters and primary ticketers largely disagree, with the abandonment of the transparency measure following a concerted effort by Ticketmaster Canada and promoters’ association Music Canada Live, reports the Globe and Mail.

According to the paper, Ticketmaster’s Canadian COO, Patti-Anne Tarlton, told Ontarian parliamentarians that revealing total ticket numbers “could enable [touts] to better use bots to buy bulk tickets where they’re known to be scarce”.

A different proposal, backed by opposition parties, would force primary sellers to make at least 75% of tickets available to the public – although leaving artists and promoters with just 25% of ticket inventory would make Ontario less appealing to companies based outside the province, so is similarly unlikely to make it into law.

 


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“We are heartbroken”: Industry reacts to Route 91 tragedy

Live Nation, the promoter behind Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas, has issued a heartfelt statement in response to Sunday night’s massacre, saying the events are “beyond our comprehension” and promising to do “everything in our power” to support the victims and their families.

More than 59 people are now known to have lost their lives after a gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the open-air country music festival from the 32nd floor of the nearby Mandalay Bay hotel. His motive is not yet known; jihadist group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying Paddock converted to Islam earlier this year. US authorities, however, say there is no evidence Paddock was a Muslim, and described him as a “lone wolf” shooter.

“We are heartbroken over the tragedy that took place at the Route 91 Harvest festival. To think that anyone would want to inflict harm on a gathering of music lovers is beyond our comprehension,” reads the statement from Live Nation, which has organised the event since since 2014.

“To think that anyone would want to inflict harm on a gathering of music lovers is beyond our comprehension”

“And while we are stunned and grieving over this incomprehensible act of violence, we know that this is a moment when we must come together to prevent more tragedies like this from occurring.

“Live Nation will do everything in our power to support the victims and their families through the aftermath of this horrendous event, and extend our deepest gratitude to the heroic first responders who helped save as many lives as possible. To our Live Nation on-site employees, we cannot thank you enough for your bravery and perseverance over the past 24 hours and will ensure you have the resources and support necessary to heal from this.”

Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino also tweeted that the company’s “hearts are with the victims” of the attack.

In a joint statement, Megan Barry, mayor of country mecca Nashville, Sarah Trahern, the CEO of the Country Music Association (CMA), and Butch Spyridon, president and CEO of Nashville Music City/Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp, offered their “heartfelt thoughts and prayers” to everyone affected by the attack, and announced a candlelit vigil for the victims. The vigil, held last night, was attended by country stars Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Amy Grant and Alison Krauss, who also performed.

“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in the tragic event in Las Vegas, especially the victims, their families and friends and the fans, artists and crews from our country community in Vegas,” they say. “This festival brought together people from all backgrounds united in enjoying life through music.”

Footage of the vigil can be viewed below:

Community Foundation Middle Tennessee, a charity based in Nashville, has also announced a fund for Las Vegas to “help with the immediate and long-term needs of victims” of the shooting. Announcing the Music City Cares Fund, foundation president Ellen Lehman comments: “Country music is the heart of Music City [Nashville]. We are reaching out to country music fans who fell victim to this evil. They must know we care and care deeply. Our prayers are with them.”

Neil Portnow, president/CEO of Grammys organiser the Recording Academy, says the academy plans to provide counselling and support to those affected by the Route 91 Harvest attack.

“The Recording Academy is deeply saddened by the unthinkable tragedy that occurred last night in Las Vegas,” he says. “As members of the music community, we will come together as we always do in defiance of this senseless act, and provide love and support to those affected.

“The Recording Academy’s charity, MusiCares, will be working closely with the music industry to provide trauma counselling and support to those in need. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this harrowing time.”

“As members of the music community, we will come together as we always do”

Music Canada Live, a concert industry association north of the border, similarly offered its sympathy to those caught up in the shooting.

“Music Canada Live, the voice of Canada’s live music industry, expresses our heartfelt sympathies to the victims and injured in last night’s tragedy in Las Vegas,” say chairman Jesse Kumagai and executive director Erin Benjamin in a joint statement. “The power of live music, and the artists that make it, will without question be a guiding light as we seek to heal from this unthinkable act.

“Our thoughts are with the families, festival organisers, fans and artists.”

Bonnaroo/Outside Lands co-promoter Superfly, which is launching a new festival, Lost Lake, in Arizona later this month, says its “hearts go out to those impacted by the tragedy in Las Vegas” – and that it’s doing all it can to protect patrons.

“At all of our events, and Lost Lake Festival taking place later this month, the safety of our patrons, staff, volunteers and artists is our highest priority,” reads a statement. “We will continue to work closely with Phoenix law enforcement officials to assess our safety and security protocols to ensure we host the safest event possible.”

“The power of live music, and the artists that make it, will be a guiding light as we seek to heal from this unthinkable act”

Caleb Keeter, guitarist for Route 91 Harvest performers Josh Abbott Band, meanwhile, says the attack has changed his views on gun control in the US.

Writing on Twitter, Keeter says he had been “a proponent of the second amendment [to the US constitution, which enshrines the right of Americans to bear arms] my entire life. Until last night.

“I cannot express how wrong I was.”

Keeter describes how he wrote a living will and a note saying goodbye to his parents as he “felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night”. That, he continues, “was enough for me to realise that this is completely and totally out of hand. These rounds were powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity [to] a victim shot by this fucking coward received shrapnel wounds.

“We need gun control RIGHT. NOW.”

“We will not let hate win over love. We will not be defeated by senseless violence”

As for the festival itself, a statement from local organisers says that while they will never forget the attack, the best way to honour victims is to persevere in the face of violence.

“On behalf of the entire Route 91 Harvest family, we are completely devastated by the event that occurred Sunday night,” it reads. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the injured and the deceased and their loved ones; senseless violence has claimed the souls of our fans and we have little in the way of answers.

“Our eternal gratitude goes out to the LVPD [Las Vegas police department], emergency services, security guards and fans for their selfless acts of bravery while trying to help those in need.

“While we will try and move forward, we will never forget this day. We will NOT let hate win over LOVE. We will NOT be defeated by senseless violence. We WILL persevere, and honour the souls that were lost.

“Because it matters.”

Route 91 Harvest ribbon

 


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