Why It’s Good to be an Artist in Canada

Look, it’s never easy being a musician. But when compared to other nations, Canadian musicians have a lot of advantages that their peers in other countries don’t. I can’t tell you the number of American musicians who have told me how jealous they are of the funding opportunities available to our artists.

Canada’s broadcasters are a big, big part of this. As a condition of a broadcast licence–the permission to use radio frequencies, which are public property in Canada–broadcast companies are required to throw a lot of cash back into the system to help maintain and grow a healthy music industry.  One such requirement is called Canadian Content Development, a set amount of money each and every radio station must pay out every year.

And cheques just can’t be written willy-nilly. The money has to go to an accredited third party which will then see to it that the money is administered and spent properly. For example, NXNE is one of these accredited third parties. A broadcasting company might elect to use them as a way to spend their CCD money on some aspect of the Canadian music industry.

Where else does the money go? FACTOR, the Foundation for Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings, a huge funder of music, got $14 million just from CCD this year. Radio Starmaker, another talent development initiative funded by Canadian’s private radio broadcasters, got $16 million. In total, broadcasters dropped nearly $60 million into developing new Canadian talent over the last 12 months. That’s up 14% year over year.

There’s also something called “tangible benefits.” Let’s say Company A launches a takeover of Company B. Before that takeover can be approved by the CRTC, Company A has to promise to set aside a big chunk of money–usually a percentage of the purchase price of Company B–to be invested in some aspect of the Canadian music industry. Depending the size of the deal, this can amount to tens of millions of dollars for a single takeover. Remember when Bell took over Astral? This year, $71.5 million was paid out.

If you’re interested in learning more about this behind-the-scenes funding of our music industry, check out this article at FYI Music News.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ 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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