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New Report: Canada's Indie Music Industry Unlikely to Fully Recover Until At Least 2023

A new report commissioned by the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) details just how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Canadian independent musicians. Among the most shocking revelations is that the evaporation of the live music scene has led to a  $280-million decline in revenue in just six months and that the industry will likely not recover to pre-COVID levels until at least 2023.

The report is entitled The Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Independent Music, which was conducted by Nordicity on behalf of CIMA and shines a light on the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian independent music sector.

The key challenges include:

· Drop in revenue: Since the start of the pandemic in March, independent music in Canada has seen a drop in revenue of CAD 280 million. The revenue loss has been most acute for emerging artists and their representatives:

  • The live sector has been the hardest hit, with a 79% drop in income from 2019;
  • Independent sound recording and publishing companies will see a 41% decline in revenue from 2019
  • Almost 2,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs lost in six months
  • Long recovery: In a best-case scenario, industry revenue will not recover to pre-COVID levels until 2023-2024, and only with further emergency financial supports
  • Lack of audience development: With new musicians unable to promote their work in concerts, the commercial viability of their projects will suffer. As such, the longer this impact continues, the longer the impact will be on the industry ability to generate revenue in the future;
  • Need for greater diversity: While not a new issue, the pandemic (and events that occurred during it) have highlighted the need for the industry to improve access to different voices. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have not seen the same funding support as the rest of their peers – both as artists and as music industry entrepreneurs.
  • Policy and regulatory uncertainty: Between the variable funding levels at the Canada Music Fund, the potential reforms to the Copyright Act, and the recently introduced Broadcasting Act legislation (Bill C-10), there is uncertainty surrounding how Canadian independent music companies will be supported as they recover from the pandemic.

“If real supports are not made available to music creators, Canadian music may not recover. Not only do we have an obligation to protect Canadian music as a voice for our country and as one of our proudest forms of cultural expression, but we also have a responsibility to support the hard-working Canadians who work in this industry. This is their livelihood and it has been devastated,” says CIMA Board Chair and co-owner/president of Sonic Unyon Records, Tim Potocic.

As part of the Nordicity report, CIMA includes several recommendations for additional supports that can back the independent music industry as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the recommendations:

  • Extending and enhancing the Canada Music Fund’s Annual and Supplemental Funding.
  • Increasing flexibility in how funding is disbursed;
  • Enhancing financial and technical support for audience development;
  • Providing wage support for workers in the Canadian music sector;
  • Creating tailored financing for underrepresented groups; and
  • Enhancing support for online training for new and emerging music professionals

“We are asking the government to consider that without these supports, ‘the band cannot play on,’” says board director and president/founder of Aporia Records Gord Dimitrieff. “Every day, more music creators and their representatives are losing their livelihoods and there is nowhere else for them to go. This thriving and dynamic Canadian music industry that we are so proud of is quickly eroding, and without speedy action it will be years before it can even begin to recover.”

For more information, go to www.cimamusic.ca.

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Michael Raine is the Editor-in-Chief at Canadian Musician and Canadian Music Trade magazines. He also hosts the Canadian Musician Podcast. www.canadianmusicianpodcast.com.
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