Last Wednesday marked our second Sound Off! – Ontario event, held in our nation’s capital of Ottawa. The event drew around 40 members of the local music community, including artists, managers, promoters, presenters, agents, media, and more. Held at The Hub, it was an insightful and productive conversation about how MusicOntario can help the music community in Ottawa.

The event started off, as before, by talking about what’s working really well in the region, and it’s clear that there’s no shortage of great things happening in the city. Support for artists comes from a lot of different sources, including festivals (which provide opportunities for local acts to share the stage with international acts), several local radio stations (including CBC), local businesses, record stores, and more. No question there’s a real sense of pride and community in the Ottawa music scene.

When discussing challenges from a general perspective, participants mentioned several audience development related issues, specifically related to how to get people out to shows and pay a reasonable rate for tickets and therefore allowing artists to make a wage. There was some brief conversation about coming up with a community-wide ‘ideal rate,’ which led into a discussion about developing a regular, on-going platform for the community to discuss such issues.

The conversation then quickly led to discussing local challenges, and three key issues were made very clear.

Firstly, the need for a mid-sized venue dedicated to live music was at the forefront of most people’s minds, not only from a career development perspective for local artists, but to attract touring artists, too (currently, many skip Ottawa).

Secondly, the closing of the Ottawa XPress alt-weekly has left a distinct void in the scene, with no single source for live music listings in print form. Several digital resources now exist (Ottawa Showbox, Apartment 613, Couch Assassins, Herd), but many mentioned that having a physical music magazine would still be beneficial.

Lastly, there was extended talk related to helping support and develop independent promoters and presenters in the city (and, indeed, across Ontario).

The event then wrapped up by participants providing insight into what sorts of educational events MusicOntario can deliver. Suggested topics included working with media, developing press kits, marketing & promotion, and a variety of other topics relevant to their careers.

A huge thank you to all who came out to the event and voiced their ideas and insight. For anyone who couldn’t make it to the event, an online survey will be published very soon, and we invite you to share YOUR thoughts on how we can help out in your community.

Next stop: Hamilton!

Sound Off! – Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC), with additional support from Ryerson University. Without them, this project would not be possible.

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We’d also like to thank the fine folks over at TicketBreak for their support of MusicOntario and our year-round activities.

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Also thanks to our travel partner VIA Rail.

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