Can Toronto Attain Its Dreams of Being a “Music City?”

Canada is a fantastic nation when it comes to cranking out high-quality music. And while we get great stuff from coast-to-coast–no one disputes that–the centre of the music business universe in this country is Toronto. That’s indisputable, too.

Most of the labels have their headquarters here. The two biggest music conferences in the country, CMW and NXNE, are held here. Most of the big media companies operate out of Toronto. It’s where the performing rights organizations and industry lobby groups have their offices in the city. We have some of the best recording studios here. And it’s home to the biggest club and concert scene in the country.

This isn’t a diss at Montreal, Vancouver or anywhere else. I’m just laying out the facts. Toronto is a big music centre. A really big one.

The problem is that it isn’t big enough–or rather, people outside of the city/province/country don’t know how big it is.  If we could fix that and put Toronto on the same level as, say, an Austin, Nashville or Memphis, the economic and creative benefits would be huge. A healthy music business environment in Toronto should mean a healthy business environment for the whole country.

This is the thinking behind Toronto’s “Music City” initiative, a City Hall-driven plan to make the rest of the world know what’s going on here.

But something this ambitious needs more than just talk. It needs money from both the private and public sectors. And as someone who has been working with one group of private sector people who want to see things explode, I can tell you with certainty that there’s a lot bubbling under the surface. A lot.

Which brings me back to the City of Toronto and Music City.  Mayor John Tory (whose son works for Live Nation, by the way) spoke at the Annual General Meeting of Music Canada, the biggest industry trade group in the country.  FYI Music News points us to this video of the mayor speaking with Music Canada’s Graham Henderson.

Watch this video and you’ll have an idea of what’s going on beyond what the music public probably hasn’t heard yet.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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