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CIMA President on Advocacy, Funding & What’s Missing From New Trade Deal at Annual Meeting of Canadian Independents

The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), which represents more than 300 members of the independent music industry nationwide -- including managers, labels, record producers and recording…

The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), which represents more than 300 members of the independent music industry nationwide — including managers, labels, record producers and recording studios — and local division MusicOntario held their Annual General Meeting late yesterday afternoon (Oct. 4) at Toronto’s The Hideout.

During the two-hour meeting CIMA members also voted on the new directors for the board, selecting from 23 members to fill nine positions. Meanwhile president Stuart Johnston recapped the past year, as well as outlined the important issues CIMA is still tackling.

“While much of the work that began a year or two or more ago is still ongoing — such is the nature of working with governments — some issues have concluded, and they’ve concluded in our favor,” reported Johnston.

“For example — NAFTA. We’ve all heard this week about the results of the new trade agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. And, by and large, the agreement has concluded favorably for the music industry.” He then listed the changes to copyright life in the newly named trade deal, USMCA and unchanged cultural exemption.

“Of course, we and the industry are still examining the fine details, but at this point it seems the music industry will see huge benefits,” he added, noting “CIMA was a very strong voice to the federal government on the issues I just described.”


Johnston did express his disappointment that one key issue was not resolved in the new deal — labor mobility. “For the past couple of years, CIMA has been very vocal on the need to reduce cost and regulatory barriers for our artists to obtain the necessary visas to perform in the U.S…Unfortunately, the U.S. viewed the visa issue as a border security issue, and not a trade issue, so would not entertain the discussion.

“Nevertheless, this is still a priority issue for CIMA and we will continue to fight for better access to the U.S. for your artists.”

Johnson also cited the successful lobbying of The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to ensure that television broadcasters invest in music support programs (after Bell Media stopped music video creation fund MuchFACT and Corus stopped supporting country music); they are now mandated to collectively pay on average $5.5 million (CAD) a year for the next three years, and $4.5 million of that will be administered by FACTOR, starting next September.

“And while it is a three-year commitment, the CRTC left the door open for the contributions to continue,” Johnson said.

He further touted the Heritage Minister’s allocation of $2.5 million a year for the next five years for music exporting initiatives, of which FACTOR will be administering $1.5 million a year to programs such as new musical works and collective initiatives.

“This was part of the government’s Creative Canada investment of $125 million over five years, to support exporting initiatives of all cultural sectors. There is also a competitive Creative Export Canada Fund that music companies are encouraged to apply to — the next deadline is November 16,” he said.

“I mention this because CIMA has been and continues to be loudly advocating for more investments to help you in your businesses. These new investments occurred in part because of CIMA’s advocacy. That’s resulted in an additional $6 million more a year for the English Canada music industry.

“However, we don’t want to stop there. We are continuing to ask for a total of $10 million more a year for the Canada Music Fund — a permanent increase — and a separate $10 million a year for music export programs. We see the latest investments as a good start, a healthy down payment, but the federal government hasn’t completed the job yet, in our mind.”

He encouraged CIMA members to make their voices heard, to stress the importance of continuing the Ontario Music Fund, for example, to the new provincial leadership, as well as the various issues on the federal level, working alongside other organizations, such as ADISQ, CMPA, MMF, SOCAN, Music Canada, and the provincial music industry associations.

“The Music Policy Coalition will be likely engaging in, among other issues, the Canada Music Fund, revisions to the Copyright Act, modernizing the Copyright Board, and the review of the Broadcasting Act,” he said. “Some of the big issues and questions we are still wrestling with include defining CanCon in a digital age, should there be playing quotas on streaming services? Should foreign companies, ISPs contribute financially to the CanCon system like radio does? What should enforcement mechanisms be for the new copyright act?”

Besides these big picture issues, CIMA — under its international banner of Music Export Canada — organized 15 export missions in 21 cities and 11 countries in which 150 companies participated, and 126 artists and bands were showcased.

CIMA and MusicOntario (which has 423 members) also delivered professional development opportunities for members and industry, last year hosting or co-hosting 64 workshops, seminars or panels in Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Quebec, as well as 21 in-market sessions in the United Kingdom, Netherlands, United States and Germany.

After Johnston’s lengthy address, Emy Stantcheva, manager of MusicOntario, who was appointed by CIMA a little more than a year ago, did a brief recap of what the non-profit has accomplished in the country’s biggest market.

“This year, we have recognized the need to consult more closely with the industry to ensure that we are hearing from as many voices and perspectives as possible, and we’ve begun the process of establishing committees to achieve that,” she said. ” In 2018, we held our first Hip Hop, Rap, and R&B Advisory Committee meeting, and it bore many important discussions regarding barriers the community faces within the industry, and even just at the grassroots level.  Next month, we will hold our first LGBTTIQQ2S Advisory Committee meeting to do the same in order to hear from more queer voices.

“In 2019, we also hope to establish advisory committees to amplify indigenous voices in our outreach, as well as those of our francophone peers in Ontario. Through our partnerships with Women in Music Canada, we will continue to work toward gender parity in all that we do. And looking forward, there are many more underrepresented voices we hope to consult with and hear from.”