If this label’s campaign is successful, Canadian radio stations may soon have to play a minimum amount of Indigenous music

When the CRTC released its latest (and long overdue) review of radio in Canada last December, there was a line or two about encouraging commercial stations to play a minimum amount of Indigenous music. It wasn’t an edict or a rule; it was basically a wishlist item.

Now an Indigenous record label, Makusham Musique, is asking the CRTC to order all music stations to devote at least 5% of their playlists to this kind of music. The label did a survey (312 Canadians) and found that 95% of the respondents were in favour of an imposed quota of this music. Roughly 41% of those surveyed were from Indigenous communities.

Here’s a statement from Mathieu McKenzie, Chief of Chief of Innu Takuaikan Uashat mak Mani-utenam:

“Although the Indigenous music industry is booming in Canada, the presence of our artists in commercial radio remains an occasional occurrence. The memorandum we are unveiling today demonstrates how endangered Indigenous languages truly are, and why their preservation is essential. In fact, it is a concern that is shared by the vast majority of survey respondents, whether Indigenous or non-Indigenous. Respondents generally agree that a 5% Indigenous music quota should be imposed on commercial radio stations.

Chief Mike “Pelash” Mckenzie, another member of the group pushing for this change had this to say:

“Indigenous music must take its rightful place on all broadcasting platforms, especially on commercial radio. Music is a universal language that contributes to creating ties between peoples and allows us to tell our story, by bringing our vision of the world to life. Across Canada, Indigenous musical artists are ambassadors of their Nations, and their work enriches Canadian society as a whole. Their art actively contributes to keeping our languages alive and perpetuating the millennial teachings of our Elders.”

This is just a request at this point. The CRTC says they’ll take a look at things.

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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2 thoughts on “If this label’s campaign is successful, Canadian radio stations may soon have to play a minimum amount of Indigenous music

  • How many songs a day is 5%?

    • Let’s see. A typical hour contains 11 songs. Should the CRTC track this the same way as CanCon, the hours that matter are between 6am and midnight. That means we’re looking at ~200 songs a day, so 10 songs.

      This wouldn’t be hard to reach for a station that plays contemporary rock or pop, but very challenging for any classic rock or oldies station. AC stations may struggle finding enough material, too.


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