2020 Ontario Pre-Budget Submission by MusicOntario

Posted on
October 14, 2020

Ontario Pre-Budget Submission
By: MusicOntario

October 14, 2020

The Honourable Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance
c/o Budget Secretariat

Frost Building North, 3rd floor
95 Grosvenor Street
Toronto Ontario  M7A 1Z1

Sent via email: submissions@ontario.ca
cc: Minister.MacLeod@ontario.ca

Dear Minister:

MusicOntario thanks the Government of Ontario for its leadership during this COVID-19 crisis. We also thank the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, Lisa MacLeod, for the leadership she showed in the weeks and months following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, by convening an Ontario Music Panel to solicit feedback and opinions on how the sector was impacted and what needed to be done to provide relief.

Ontario’s music industry is suffering immensely from this pandemic and the related closures of businesses and borders; companies are operating at drastically reduced revenues, and artists are unable to work, despite desire to do so. In this time of need, we are asking the Ontario government to provide a much-needed boost in flexible funding to the industry, to provide the resources needed to invest in our artists, preserve jobs and keep our small businesses open so that they may emerge on the other side of this pandemic, ready to re-enter the competitive global market.


That the Ontario Government increase the Ontario Music Industry Fund’s annual budget to a minimum of its former level of $15 million annually.

The Ontario government has long been a strong partner for the Canadian independent music industry, the heart and soul of which is in our province, with the Ontario Music Industry Fund (OMIF) being a critical source of investment and access to capital.

The Ontario Government had previously reduced the OMIF budget from $15 million annually to $7 million a year, while also modifying the fund’s parameters. The government reduced the fund’s budget as part of its ‘belt-tightening’ of the province’s expenses, and, regrettably, the commercial music industry was caught in that exercise. However, times have obviously changed since that time, given the crippling financial blow that COVID-19 has caused to the Ontario and global music industry.

Our music industry is comprised solely of small businesses, with almost half being sole proprietors. Now more than ever, Ontario’s music industry and its supply chains need the Ontario government to provide robust financial support and continued flexibility in both funding and policy dedicated to supporting our industry, in order to survive the profound effects the pandemic is wreaking on our community of businesses and artists.

Support from the Ontario government is integral to the domestic and international success of the province’s independent music industry. The OMIF assists artists and entrepreneurs to undertake sound recordings, touring and showcasing, marketing and promotional initiatives in a global and digital marketplace, and allows consumers access to high-quality Canadian music choices, a great majority of which come from Ontario.

The commercialization of Intellectual Property (music) by the independent sector in Ontario guarantees an important return on investments into Ontario’s economy and into the pockets of Ontarians.

At a time when we are witnessing severe impacts on the entire music ecosystem, where corporate revenues have collapsed or are non-existent, employees and contractors are losing their jobs, and, most importantly, artists are seeing their livelihoods disappear, increased support for the music industry is critical if we are to survive this crisis. As the world turns to music and art to traverse these grim, bleak times, it is our duty to ensure that the creators who give Ontarians hope, purpose, identity, and a sense of community be supported just as they support us and create our collective heritage.

The music industry was one of the first to be impacted by COVID-19 and will certainly be one of the last to emerge from its effects. Our industry will not be on a true road to recovery until live events involving critical masses of people will be permitted again and international music exporting activities resume, which by most conservative estimates will be well into 2021, with some conservative projections showing that consumers will be reluctant to see live shows into 2022.

MusicOntario is in communication with the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), who have commissioned a research report by Nordicity that will examine, quantify, and qualify the depth and breadth of the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic on the Canadian independent music industry, which will be completed by the end of October 2020. We would like to reserve the right to share additional data and information with the Ontario government once it is available for its consideration.

Research conducted over the summer of 2020 to evaluate the impacts of COVID-19 and to understand the projected impact of the pandemic on our music industry over the next year found that 84% of respondents expected a decline in their revenues over the next year, with almost 30% projecting losses of half or three-quarters of their revenues.

Long-term support measures are integral to the full recovery and success of the sector. Government has a key role to play over the next two years to help maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose cash flow and short-term operational viability have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our survey results show that 82% of respondents need long-term government support measures for their companies to recover from the pandemic. While revenues are down, our companies and their employees continue to be busy and working to not only ensure there is Ontario content to be released, but to pivot to our new reality and we reimagine our industry and strategize recovery.

We applaud Premier Ford’s leadership during this time of crisis and have been buoyed by his statements that your government will spare no expense to help the small business community recover. In that spirit, we ask the government to relieve the stress on the Ontario music industry’s small businesses, including music companies, emerging and established artists, and the entrepreneurs who lead them by partnering with the sector, by restoring the Ontario Music Investment Fund to its original budget of $15 million annually to help our community recover.


Launch a “Buy Ontario” campaign for the arts and culture sector, encouraging Ontarians to buy, download and stream Ontario music and other creative products.

In Ontario’s music sector, independent music companies are leaders in discovering, developing, and investing in new talent and introducing Canadians to local talent.

Currently, the livelihoods of artists and musicians are collapsing with the vast majority of self-employed artists experiencing major reductions in their contracts or work activity due to canceled tours, concerts and gigs. More than half report that these contracts represent between 50-100% of their income.

We encourage the Ontario government through the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries lead a “Buy Ontario” or “Support Local Artists” promotional campaign for the arts and culture sectors from 2020-2023. This multidisciplinary initiative would put a focus on Ontario’s artists across all sectors in the arts and culture sector. For the music sector, the campaign would encourage Ontarians to discover, buy, stream or otherwise support our great local bands and artists. Organizations such as ours could help to drive and strategize this type of initiative as a trusted link to the industry and the creators who drive it.

On behalf of MusicOntario’s membership and network of engaged constituents, we would once again like to thank you for your time and consideration of our pre-budget submission. If you have any questions or comments, I invite you to contact me at emy@music-ontario.ca. We look forward to growing a strong, dynamic independent music sector together in Ontario.

Cc: The Hon. Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries


MusicOntario is a non-profit, membership-based provincial Music Industry Association (MIA) representing 580 companies and groups/artists, whose mission is to provide professional development, education, information, and support to the music industry of Ontario. The association's mandate is to nurture, elevate, and empower emerging companies and artists in Ontario's indie music sector. We help. www.music-ontario.ca

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