Ongoing History of New Music

The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 819: The 90s, Part 8: The CanRock Revolution

Canada is the sixth-largest music market in the world. Only the US, Japan, the UK, Germany and France are bigger. Not bad, consider that we’re living right next door to the biggest exporter of popular culture in the known universe. And unlike, Japan, Germany, and France, most of our domestic industry isn’t isolated and protected by language.

I mean, the whole world consumes English-language music. What’s the market of Japanese music outside of Japan? Or Germany music outside of Germany?

Then there’s the matter of population. Of those six nations, Canada, with its 36 million people, is the smallest. Compare that to the 66 million in both the UK and France and the 83 million souls in Germany.

Canada also exports far more music to the rest of the world than any reasonable index could indicate. And every year, the export numbers grow bigger and bigger thanks to stars like Drake, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Arcade Fire and a long list of artists that came before. Alanis Morissette, Sarah McLachlan, Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Rush and dozens and dozens of others.

And maybe most important of all, Canada has a super-strong domestic market. Canadians have a voracious appetite for Canadian music and the country tends to be very proud (even boastful–how un-Canadian!) of its homegrown talent. One just needs remember the national outpouring of affection for the Tragically Hip in the summer of 2016.

But it wasn’t always this way. There was a time when “Canadian music” was a synonym for “substandard” and “not very good.” Canadians went out of their way to avoid Canadian music–unless, of course, it had received a stamp of approval from music fans in the United States, the only form of validation that mattered.

Fortunately, that attitude is pretty much extinct now. And the roots of our much of our current musical nationalism can be traced back to the alt-rock 90s.

This is chapter 8 of our look at that decade: The CanRock revolution.

Songs heard on this show:

Tragically Hip, Courage

54-40, Baby Ran

The Pursuit of Happiness, I’m an Adult Now (Original Version)

Spirit of the West, Home for a West

I Mother Earth, Not Quite Sonic

Our Lady Peace, Superman’s Dead

Tea Party, Temptation

Age of Electric, Remote Control

Here’s the accompanying playlist from Eric Wilhite.

Don’t forget that you can get the podcast version of this podcast through iTunes or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do

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.

Alan Cross has 38165 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

2 thoughts on “The Ongoing History of New Music, Episode 819: The 90s, Part 8: The CanRock Revolution

  • Quebec had a music industry in the 70s.

    • If you listen to the program, you’ll see that I mention that Quebec was the exception.


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