Liberals look to strike the right note in changes to Canada Music Fund

$24-million Canada Music Fund hasn’t seen a boost in funding for a decade

The federal government is expected to make long-sought changes next year to a fund aimed at helping Canada’s music industry, about two years after officials first recommended improvements to Heritage Minister Melanie Joly.

The $24-million Canada Music Fund hasn’t seen a boost in funding for a decade, and is facing ever more requests for funding as the digital revolution transforms the industry’s landscape.

Although the 2018 budget made no mention of it, the Liberal government has been telling insiders that it will enrich the fund, although by how much isn’t clear. It also plans to change how the money is distributed, in light of fading sales and the growth of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music.

Industry officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss private conversations, say federal officials have suggested that changes to the Canada Music Fund will be part of next year’s budget, the last before the 2019 federal election.

Joly’s office has yet to respond to questions posed earlier this week.

Money through the fund is aimed at helping Canadian companies involved in recording, promoting, and distributing music at home and abroad, and helps mitigate a key financial issue in the industry: access to capital.

“The industry by and large tends not to be able to get traditional bank loans for their product because it’s rather ethereal — it’s a song. It’s not furniture or a car,” said Stuart Johnson, president of the Canadian Independent Music Association.

For years, record sales were among the criteria used to determine grant values, but that has become less helpful as physical unit sales decline and consumers turn more to getting their music over the internet.

Briefing material created by Canadian Heritage officials in late 2016 noted that at the time, streaming revenues in Canada had nearly tripled over the previous two years, accounting for 17 per cent of recorded music revenues. That trend has shown no signs of abating.

However, it seemed Canadian artists weren’t getting a lot of attention on streaming platforms: Canadian artists represented only about 10 per cent of all music streams in Canada, well below the 35 per cent of airtime they receive on radio as part of content requirements, the documents noted. Streaming services were “diminishing the once-powerful impact” of Canadian content regulations, they said.

The documents suggest a need for funding to help local artists compete online, particularly in a Francophone market “now faced with predominantly English-language international streaming services”; break into new markets overseas; and earn more money each time their songs are streamed.

“Thus, building audiences will be the principal focus of an optimal funding program for Canadian music while other tools in the music policy tool kit will further address remuneration issues,” a January presentation said.

The Canadian Press obtained copies of the documents under the Access to Information Act.

A presentation on the fund subtitled “recommendation to minister” and dated March 2017, the same month the Liberals delivered that year’s budget, outlined a modernized plan for the music fund, including new funding streams and possible public reaction. All proposed changes were redacted by officials, citing rules that prevent the disclosure of advice to cabinet.

The government has said little about any forthcoming changes, but what does seem clear is that a modernized fund would be flexible enough to respond to shifting market forces, Johnson said.

However, a flexible program will falter without fresh funding, he warned.

“We’re cautioning (Canadian) Heritage — and they’re listening — that if there is no new money in the system, then stretching that elastic band further may break it.”

Margaret McGuffin, executive director of the Canadian Music Publishers Association, said her group is looking forward to seeing the details of the modernization of the Canada Music Fund, particularly as it pertains to helping export music to new markets.

“To be able to access funding beyond the criteria that’s currently in place would allow them to continue what they’re already doing in growing and exporting songs to the world,” McGuffin said.

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lawn bowlers kick off Langley season

The bowlers welcomed new members and civic officials.

Letter: Shrink dependence on fossil fuels, not expand

A Langley letter writer is critical of MLA Rich Coleman’s position on Kinder Morgan.

Langley City’s van den Broek will run for mayor

The mayoral race in Langley City is officially underway.

VIDEO: Volunteers wanted in Langley

A volunteer fair is rounding up recruits for worthy local causes.

WATCH: Langley’s Hunter Park comes back to life

After a tree disease decimated the park, a new planting effort was held Saturday.

VIDEO: Largest LEGO exhibition in British Columbia held at River Rock Casino

Hundreds of builders come from around the world to display their LEGO creations

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

Hockey for Humboldt charity game Friday

Event in Maple Ridge will benefit bus tragedy victims

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Alberta man dead after snowmobile collision on B.C. mountain

The incident occurred on Boulder Mountain Friday morning

B.C. parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

Sunset Beach Park to close for 10 weeks to repair damage from 4-20 event

Vancouver Parks Board said a fence will be placed around the damaged field for ‘major rehabilitation’

16 of 20 fastest improving B.C. schools are public: Fraser Institute

Independent elementary schools remain at top of the chart in think tank’s annual report card

Most Read