Canadian Government Pledges $15M in Federal Music Funding

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The Canadian government will allocate 20 million Canadian dollars ($14.96 million at current rates) to the Canadian Music Fund (CMF) over two years, it announced Tuesday with its 2019 federal budget. 

"With the growing importance of digital media today, Canadian artists—especially musicians and music entrepreneurs (e.g., producers, agents)—now face the challenge of marketing their content internationally and across all platforms, while also putting a greater emphasis on touring and live performances," the budget report reads.

The CA$20 million increase is intended "to address some of the challenges faced by Canadian musicians in the digital era" so that "the Fund can enhance its support for the production, promotion and distribution of Canadian music." 

The passage adds: "For musical artists, these investments will create greater opportunities to innovate and experiment on a wider range of digital and non-digital platforms. This, combined with enhanced support for promotion—including more touring and more modern marketing approaches—will ensure that Canadian music reaches more audiences at home and abroad."

Representatives of national music associations were swift in their praise -- a contrast to last year, when the federal budget failed to mention any support for the Canada Music Fund. In 2016, the government committed CA$4.2 million ($3.14 million) to the music sector over two years. Now, with this new allotment, according to the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), adds to the momentum of that 2016 investment, supporting a program that has been "underfunded and over-subscribed for the past decade."

"We are incredibly grateful to the Federal government and specifically our dedicated advocate, Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez, for showing their support of our industry," said CIMA president Stuart Johnston in a statement. "We are keen to continue to work closely with government to ensure that these dollars are invested in the most impactful way, such as providing additional support for sound recording, international export opportunities, promotion, marketing, touring and showcasing, and the domestic development of our great artists."

The Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA) called the announcement "good news" in its press release, noting other increases to the arts in the budget, such as CA$16 million ($11.97 million) over two years to the Canada Arts Presentation Fund (CAPF) and $CA24 million ($17.96 million) over two years to the Building Communities Through Arts and Heritage Program and the Celebration and Commemoration Program.

The CAPF program, according to the CLMA, "may positively impact" many of the association's not-for-profit members. "Thanks to the program, our members ensure 'homegrown talent' can be discovered, in our own backyards. Export strategies rely on that career growth that comes from domestic touring and local audience development. The touring landscape in Canada is, among many things, an important breeding ground for the creation (and ultimately, global dissemination) of Canadian content," said CLMA president and CEO Erin Benjamin.

With these new funding commitments, the total support to the Canadian music industry by the Government of Canada is CA$40.7 million ($30.44 million).

"Music Canada welcomes the Government of Canada's increased funding to the Canada Music Fund and Canada Arts Presentation Fund as part of today's budget announcement, but there remains much work to be done to address the Value Gap hurting the music sector," said Graham Henderson, president and CEO of Music Canada, in a statement. "For labels and artists to be competitive and financially successful, they need a sustainable business framework."

He continued, "Recently the United States and the European Union have taken steps to address the Value Gap. Canada has an opportunity to join the community of nations in protecting and fostering the careers of creators. During the Copyright Act review, the creative community was virtually unanimous in urging the government to repeal decades-old subsidies through which individual creators enrich billion dollar technology and broadcasting platforms. We sincerely look forward to working with the government to seize this opportunity while concluding the review of the Copyright Act."