Report: CDRP findings address independent music industry needs across Ontario

Posted on
January 27, 2015
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Community Development Research Project and Sound Off! Ontario Final Report

Executive Summary

This report is intended to highlight educational and infrastructural needs and issues raised by music industry members in communities across Southern Ontario. Through a series of online survey questions and in-person town hall meetings, project participants produced a wide array of data that was collected by MusicOntario, in partnership with CIMA and Ryerson University. In addition, Ryerson University conducted research to document existing music industry infrastructure in communities across Ontario through validation of business directories. The expectation is to release additional reports at a future date that drill down into more portions of these findings, so as to paint a more complete picture of the makeup of Ontario’s music industry.

Educational needs and infrastructure gaps were earmarked as top priorities by MusicOntario in this project. By focusing on the most frequently emphasized educational and industry needs identified by community members themselves, it opens up the opportunity for more immediate action to be taken by stakeholders on a provincial and a regional level to provide industry members with the resources they need to succeed.

The most frequent issues raised across the province and across the project centred on audience development and engagement; a lack of live venues; a lack of information about funding available to artists; the desire to better connect with and reach out to media and potential audiences; the desire for a better connected Ontario music industry, beyond regional borders; and the need for artists to be paid fairly and to access more sources of revenue.

This report also explores responses to questions about desired educational topics on a community-by-community basis. The most sought-after topic across almost all regions approached was that of government funding, with music licensing and artist marketing close behind.

When asked about industry support and presence within their respective communities, many respondents across the province also felt that there were very low numbers of music publishers and music supervisors in their individual communities; more medium-sized cities that surround the GTA also pointed to having few publicists and PR professionals. Interestingly, the larger cities of Toronto and Ottawa noted low numbers of booking agents, and among smaller cities like Burlington and Barrie, respondents noted a lack of managers in their respective communities. Across the board, many respondents agreed that there was also a perceived lack of knowledge surrounding music industry associations and also collective societies and rights management.

All of these findings are further explored on a regional level through this report, and can be further studied via the graphs and spreadsheets included at the end of this document.


Ontario’s music industry is made up of several large- and medium-sized markets, each with its own culture, infrastructure, demographic make-up, level of education, and industry needs. In order to effectively support these markets, and the individual artists and other independent music entrepreneurs that make up these markets, programs and services must be tailored by region and developed on a community-by-community basis, with the overarching goals of achieving inter- and intra-community connectedness across the province. But this individualized support can only be crafted once a community’s specific needs are identified. The Community Development Research Project (CDRP) was launched by MusicOntario in partnership with the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) to provide Ontario’s music industry with a resource from which to continue its development, both at the provincial level and on a regional basis.

The CDRP initiative was marketed to industry members and the general public as Sound Off! Ontario, announced in the spring of 2013. It comprised two major public initiatives: an online survey, open to all industry members living and working in Ontario, which respondents filled out between July and October 2013; and a collection of 12 town hall meetings that took place between May and October 2013 in the following regions, listed chronologically: Guelph, Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Peterborough, Waterloo region, Burlington, Toronto, Kingston, Barrie, Windsor & region, and St. Catharines & Niagara region. (While initially 13 markets were identified, the southwestern Ontario markets of Windsor and Sarnia were targeted together in one event. Additionally, as Cultural Industries Ontario North — formerly Music and Film in Motion — serves as the music industry association for Northern Ontario, this region was not included in MusicOntario’s CDRP research as it would duplicate work that is already being done.)

In an attempt to cast the widest net and reach as many industry professionals as possible, MusicOntario engaged in an active, primarily digital, market-specific advertising campaign with ad buys in trade publications, on arts/music community websites, and on Facebook, with an additional email and social media push to promote the online survey. An estimated 200 individuals attended the open-forum meetings in 12 communities, and more than 600 respondents completed the survey. Participants represented every corner of the provincial music industry, as artists, labels, managers, publicists, venues, and agents all took part in the Sound Off! project. Attendance at the town hall meetings varied in each market, which was most often indicative of and tied to the community’s market size.

It is important to note that report is by no means a detailed breakdown of the intricacies each market faces in terms of history, economics, or demographics; rather, this report is a reflection of local needs and issues raised by Sound Off! participants through town hall sessions and online surveys, particularly concerning gaps in education and infrastructure. Supported by additional infrastructure research conducted in partnership with Ryerson University, the CDRP provides a unique perspective of these music markets across the province, to encourage delivery of impactful programs and initiatives that are relevant to local needs and interests and will ultimately support the provincial industry as a whole.

Research Methodology


Identifying infrastructure

To begin to identify where regional gaps might exist in Ontario’s music infrastructure, the CDRP research began by looking up companies and individuals working in the industry to see where they are — or are not — located (associated maps and tables can be found in the “General Findings and Province-Wide Results” section). Overall, there was a great deal of overlap amongst existing sources of information, although none of them were completely accurate or fully exhaustive. Therefore, in order to confidently and accurately identify Ontario’s music infrastructure by region it was necessary to systematically create comprehensive, up-to-date directories for certain categories of interest, including sound recording studios, managers, and booking agents. Central databases were created to list company name, city or town of business, a variety of contact information, website address if applicable, and notes pertaining to each entry. Entries were verified individually either via recent online activity or more frequently by directly contacting organizations. The outcome of this endeavour is a set of the most complete directories available that indicate exactly which companies are doing which music industry activities and where in Ontario they are doing them. More of this information can be found in both the broad and community-by-community analysis in this report. The databases that resulted from this phase of the study are included in Appendices A-C, and can be updated to continue to observe trends in the industry, as well as offer resources to improve inter-regional communication and expand the reach of each business and individual in the industry.


Open-forum town-hall meetings

To augment the quantitative data gathered via the Ontario music infrastructure identification process and the hard and soft data garnered by the online questionnaire, detailed below, open-forum gatherings were conducted in 12 cities and towns with the goal of collecting rich, qualitative feedback from artists and music industry members.

MusicOntario engaged with the music communities in the following locations:

  • Toronto

  • Hamilton

  • Catharines and Niagara

  • Guelph

  • Kingston

  • Windsor and area (including Sarnia)

  • Barrie

  • Ottawa

  • Burlington

  • Peterborough

  • Kitchener/Waterloo

  • London

The town hall meetings were structured in an open format to encourage open dialogue and capture attendees’ sentiments on a community-by-community basis. To gather optimal results, however, discourse was run through this general outline:

  • What is working well in your community?

  • What are some of the global challenges facing the music industry?

  • What are some of the local challenges facing the music industry?

  • What are some educational challenges?

  • Open discussion

More specifically, throughout the course of each event the following topics were discussed:

  • What are the current challenges you face in terms of industry/infrastructure need in your city?

  • How connected do you feel with other stakeholders within your city?

  • How well connected do you feel with other markets?

  • What areas of the industry do you wish you knew more about?

  • What are your current concerns within the broad music industry today?

  • What types of creative and professional opportunities do you feel MusicOntario could help provide to support your career?

  • What are your specific needs in terms of professional development opportunities?

  • What are your professional goals and aspirations, and how can MusicOntario help you reach them?

The discussions that resulted from these events were remarkably insightful and provided a deeper understanding of the regional and province-wide needs of independent music industry members than hard data collection alone possibly could. This feedback can be found in the individual market breakdown as part of the “Community-by-Community Results” section. It is critical to note, of course, that the sample of participants in each region is not necessarily representative of the entire music community. As previously mentioned, an estimated 200 individuals attended MusicOntario’s Sound Off! Ontario open-forum meetings across these 12 communities.

Online survey

Town hall attendees and other music industry members were invited to complete an online questionnaire where respondents were asked a series of questions related to the music infrastructure in their community and their knowledge and understanding of a variety of music topics, and then rated the impact of possible workshops and programs based on these topics. The final section of the survey, in which participants were asked about potential educational topics, was based on a 10-point scale, while all of the other opinion-based questions utilized 7-item Likert scales to ensure a useful range of responses.

While the number of survey respondents by region is somewhat skewed toward cities in which town hall forums were held and where the survey was most highly publicised, respondents represented the artistic and professional communities quite evenly, and a significant portion identified as members of both groups. More than 600 respondents from both inside and outside the 13 focus markets completed the online survey through the summer and fall of 2013.

General Findings and Province-Wide Results

There were several clear and useful results that emerged out of the CDRP that offer a big-picture view of where Ontario’s music industry currently finds itself. Survey data analysis and the experiences shared at Sound Off! Ontario town hall meetings gauged the general sentiments, experiences and goals among music industry members in regions across the province, and pointed to similar issues across communities, including:

  • Difficulty in reaching new audiences and developing broader audience engagement

  • A lack of live performance venues, or a lack of venues of a specific type/size/configuration

  • A lack of information related to applying for funding, including best practices, opportunities, and deadlines

  • The need for best practices related to connecting with, and/or pitching to, media

  • The need for connection with other members of the music community, both within a region and with other regions across the province

  • The need for artists to be paid fairly and access all sources of revenue, so as to be able to make a living creating and performing music.

Many of these sentiments were reflected quite emphatically in the answers collected from all regions in the online survey, particularly in questions related to perceived gaps in infrastructure, community connectedness, and education. Questions were pitched to survey respondents in a way that allowed them to describe their reactions to or rank their agreement with various statements (for example, concerning education, individuals were asked: “How would you describe your level of knowledge and understanding about the following industry roles and activities?”) and results were divided by region. Detailed spreadsheets documenting average responses can be found in Appendices D-G. For more community-specific results and comments, please refer to the “Community-by-Community Results” section.

Regional industry infrastructure

In one section of the survey, industry members were asked to describe the strength of their community’s infrastructure from their perspective, by suggesting whether they believe there to be enough industry resources and roles of different types in their region (these included venues, artist managers, music publishers, music supervisors, booking agents, promoters, and more). Many respondents across the province, for example, felt that there were very low numbers of music publishers and music supervisors in their individual communities, which likely points to how few are found across the province generally. Even more respondents across Ontario agreed that few publicists and PR professionals were available to them in their communities, particularly in the medium-sized cities that surround the GTA (London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Hamilton, and St. Catharines & Niagara in particular). Interestingly, the larger cities of Toronto and Ottawa noted low numbers of booking agents, and among the smaller cities of Burlington, Barrie, Peterborough, and even Kingston, respondents noted a lack of managers in their respective communities. These findings are looked at more closely on a regional basis in the next section, but overall provide an interesting snapshot of where industry members feel their regional infrastructures are lacking. (More detailed results can be found in Appendix D - Detailed survey results: respondents rank the number of industry assets in their communities.)


Community connectedness

In another survey section, the question of community connectedness both within and between regions was pitched to respondents, asking individuals to rate how well-connected they believe their music scenes are. When it came down to connectedness within regions, responses were quite varied among respondents across the province. Some of the lowest scores — responses that indicated a lack of connectedness — surfaced in Barrie, Kitchener/Waterloo, and St. Catharines and Niagara, while some of the higher scores — suggesting a greater feeling of connectedness within communities — came out of Toronto, Peterborough, Windsor & Sarnia, and Kingston. When asked about connectedness between communities, respondents by and large submitted even lower scores than in the previous question, suggesting there is more work to be done to cultivate a greater sense of community across the Ontario music industry as a whole. (More detailed results from these questions can be found in Appendix E - Detailed survey results: respondents rate community connectedness.)


Educational gaps

Two key questions concerning education and general knowledge were also raised in the online survey: the first asked respondents to evaluate their own levels of knowledge on a variety of music industry roles, while the second asked individuals to rank which topics they felt would have the greatest impact on their career — essentially, what they feel they need or would like to learn the most about.

Similar to the question about perceived gaps in infrastructure, the average response across the province to the first question on educational gaps pointed to music publishers and music supervisors as being two key roles which individuals knew less about. (More detailed results can be found in Appendix F - Detailed survey results: respondents detail knowledge of industry roles and resources.)

In the proposed educational topics section, where respondents were invited to rank possible workshop and seminar topics by how much impact they believe it could have on their respective careers, the overwhelming response appeared to be that many Ontario music industry members would like to learn more about government funding options and offerings, music licensing, and music marketing strategies. Among smaller markets, there was a desire to learn more about touring and playing live, as well as using social media to grow your career and cultivate audiences. (More detailed results can be found in Appendix G - Detailed survey results: respondents select desired educational topics.) All of these education-related results can be immensely and immediately helpful in developing targeted programs, workshops, and initiatives to further develop Ontario’s music industry, especially when it comes to targeting by region. More regional results can be found below.


Identifying infrastructure

Three comprehensive spreadsheets were assembled to track booking agents, recording studios, and managers found in regions across the province as part of the CDRP’s research on identifying music industry infrastructure in Ontario. While more music industry can be tracked in the future, for this report these three were identified as a primary focus due in part to their higher occurrence across multiple regions. As illustrated in the graphs below, Toronto remains the most popular home base for these established businesses, with Ottawa coming in a distant second for booking agents and recording studios. The following maps also suggest that these businesses tend to cluster around the Golden Horseshoe of southern Ontario, with select few speckled across eastern Ontario and north to the Barrie/Orillia region. In the case of artist managers in particular, there is a very clear contrast between Toronto (70) and the rest of the province, as all other cities of virtually every size have similar numbers of one or two, or four at most, in the case of Hamilton (which is, incredibly, second to Toronto in this facet). Recording studios are only slightly more spread out — while Toronto has a whopping majority of 81 recording studios, many other smaller communities can still find several such businesses in their community. The number of booking agents remains low outside of Toronto, with select communities like Windsor and St. Catharines housing no agents whatsoever in their respective regions. (Comprehensive lists and total numbers of the firms whose locations are illustrated below can be found in Appendices A-C, databases of Ontario’s recording studios, managers, and booking agents.)



Ontario Booking Agents by Region

Ontario Artist Managers by Region 

Ontario Artist Managers by Region

Ontario Booking Agents by Region


Ontario Recording Studios by Region

Ontario Recording Studios by Region


Community-by-Community Results



Regional industry infrastructure

In terms of music industry infrastructure, in some aspects Ottawa is more developed than most other communities in Ontario. With the exception of Toronto, which is not surprisingly home to more than its equal share of the province’s music infrastructure, the music industry identification phase of this study revealed that no other city boasts greater numbers of recording studios or booking agents, as just over seven per cent of the province’s recording studios and booking agents can be found in the nation’s capital.

When it came to identifying gaps in infrastructure, survey respondents from Ottawa raised issues quite similar to those of their colleagues across the province: in particular, Ottawa respondents reported a lack of artist management and significant lack of mid-sized venues in their city. As one town hall participant noted, “Venues are a huge problem. It’s problematic that we’re the national capital and the government hasn’t taken the responsibility to provide that at the grassroots level.”

Town hall participants and survey respondents also stressed a serious lack of information dissemination. While questionnaire respondents — Ottawa had 64 survey participants — noted a lack of music-specific publicity and PR professionals in the city, town hall attendees also talked about the need for more promotional avenues: “You can’t flyer, you can’t put out A-frame signs.... where do we promote? Facebook is oversaturated. More promotional avenues are needed.” Another oft-heard comment: “Ottawa doesn’t have an alt-weekly. Having something on every street corner is what Ottawa needs.”

There was not a single music industry category (for example, recording studios, music supervisors, and so on) that respondents from Ottawa reported as being too plentiful in their region, and for virtually every category, Ottawa’s music industry members and artists reported having lower numbers than did other respondents from throughout the province. Despite the fact that Ottawa has the second-highest number of recording studios and booking agents in the province, it is clear that the nation’s capital is home to very few artist managers, an industry role local respondents frequently flagged as being too low in numbers: only about two per cent of the province’s managers are found in Ottawa, according to the project’s industry database research.

Community connectedness

Participants from Ottawa were very mixed in their opinion of their city’s level of community connectedness. Artists and industry members from Ottawa appear to feel less connected within their community than respondents from most other regions and predominantly disagreed with the following statement: “The music community within my region is well connected, and most of those who work in the sector are well aware of most initiatives and events that happen within the region.” However, the high level of variance in the responses indicates that there is little agreement among members of Ottawa’s independent music industry when it comes to their sense of community.

Unfortunately, the sense of connectedness that survey respondents from Ottawa feel toward other Ontario communities is even weaker, and there was a much greater level of agreement amongst respondents related to this questionnaire item. When asked whether the music community within Ottawa is well connected to other communities in Ontario, and whether most of those who work in the sector are well aware of most initiatives and events that happen in other regions, Ottawa’s artists and music industry members overwhelmingly responded negatively. In fact, only respondents from London reported a greater sense of isolation than those from Ottawa, although people from every community tended to feel very low levels of inter-community connectedness overall.

Educational gaps

In general, survey respondents from Ottawa reported relatively high levels of knowledge of the various music industry roles. For almost every single category (for example, artists managers, live music and concert promoters, and so on) musicians and music industry members from Ottawa rated their knowledge and understanding at least as high or higher than the respondents from elsewhere in Ontario. Based on both the most frequently occurring response as well as the arithmetic mean, Ottawa respondents do not believe their level of knowledge and understanding is low in any category, with the possible exception of the role and activities of music supervisors and music industry associations, two topics that also appear to be less well understood in other regions.

When it came down to proposed educational topics, while the vast majority were most frequently rated as having a potential impact of 10 out of 10 by survey respondents from Ottawa, no topic received the same enthusiasm and general agreement as did licensing music for film, TV, and video games, as well as the government funding overview option. At the town hall, and as with many other markets, audience members emphasized a desire to learn more about funding opportunities, and have greater discussions about the effectiveness of existing government funding structures.



Regional industry infrastructure

Based on the business directory research, the music infrastructure in London appears to be skewed toward the technical side of the business, an observation supported by town hall attendees’ comments on the talent coming out of the technical programs at Fanshawe College and the Ontario Institute Of Audio Recording Technology. As illustrated in the maps and graphs found in the Province-Wide Results section, only Toronto and Ottawa, both much larger and more populated than London, are home to more recording studios. In contrast, few management companies and booking agents were identified in London, which was also reflected in survey responses: with the exception of music recording infrastructure, all industry assets were rated as being fewer in number than is necessary in the region. Agreement among London’s musicians and industry professionals is impressive as variance in their responses is repeatedly lower than what is seen in other communities.

Community Connectedness

When asked about the connectedness of the music community within their city, survey respondents from London — of which there were 37 — were significantly less optimistic than their counterparts throughout the province, including those from Ottawa and Toronto. While there were, of course, several artists and music industry professionals who reported a stronger sense of connection than others, responses were generally slanted towards the negative end of the scale with the average respondent disagreeing with the following statement: “The music community within my region is well connected, and most of those who work in the sector are well aware of most initiatives and events that happen within the region.”

Unfortunately, if the sense of community within London’s music industry may be described as mild at best, the level of connectedness that the city’s artists and industry members feel toward other regions in the province is dismal. An overwhelming number of survey respondents from London strongly disagreed with the following statement: “The music community within my region is well connected to other communities in Ontario, and most of those who work in the sector are well aware of most initiatives and events that happen in other regions.” The remarkably low level of variance amongst responses from London indicates that this sentiment is strongly shared. In other words, there was a very small range of responses for this item meaning that almost every survey respondent from London feels similarly about this topic.

On a promising note, town hall attendees brought up possible initial solutions, including the development of a network to trade skills in the industry and connect workers to one another, and the creation of a forum to share music and resources. Like many other communities included in this study, it’s clear there is interest in increasing the level of connectedness in London.

Educational gaps

When asked to rate their level of knowledge and understanding of the role and activities of a number of different music industry segments, survey respondents from London consistently reported lower levels of knowledge than did other respondents from throughout the province. In fact, there was not a single category that London’s musicians and industry professionals felt they knew more about than their contemporaries in other cities, including topics related to sound recording (though relative to other topics, the roles and activities of recording studios and engineers were, not surprisingly, the most well understood).

Every single educational topic that was proposed in the survey was met with strong support from London’s artists and music industry professionals, marking London as an educationally enthusiastic market. Among the proposed topics that almost all members of London’s music community seemed to agree would have very positive impacts on their careers were initiatives focused on business basics, government funding, and gaining media coverage. At London’s Sound Off! Ontario town hall, attendees noted their desire for more engagement with community resources and greater awareness of all the “elements of our community,” including all members of the local music industry.


Regional industry infrastructure

The number of music industry assets in Toronto almost matches the rest of Ontario combined, which perhaps makes it easier for artists to connect with industry professionals, but simultaneously heightens the level of competition amongst businesses. As graphically illustrated in the maps under “Province-Wide Results,” the bulk of the province’s music industry is located in Toronto, but this is especially true of artist managers.

With no more than a few operating in any other Ontario community, Toronto boasts 70 percent of all of the province’s artist management companies — great news for Toronto artists seeking representation, but unsettling for musicians throughout the rest of the province. Surprisingly, however, when asked to describe the number of artist managers in Toronto, the overwhelming response was that there were too few. In fact, the most frequently occurring response was that the number of managers is “very low,” suggesting either that there is a lack of communication in Toronto between aspiring artists and potential managers which prevents them from finding and connecting with one another, or that the number of musicians is simply so large that the existing management companies cannot meet the demand. While respondents from Toronto generally rated the number of each of the assets in their community as more plentiful than those from elsewhere in Ontario, none of the categories were rated, on average, as being too high in number. (There were 187 online survey respondents from Toronto and the surrounding GTA region.)

Community Connectedness

Of particular interest, given the size and complexity of Toronto’s music industry, is the fact that the level of connectedness that the city’s artists and music industry professionals report is higher than that of almost any other region examined in the study. Part of the reason Toronto’s music community feels such a sense of connectedness may be that it is large enough for smaller, tightly knit communities to exist within it. As one town hall participant noted, Toronto is a “large and diverse city with so many different music communities.”

Not surprisingly, artists and music industry professionals in Toronto report that their sense of connectedness to other cities and communities in Ontario is “somewhat low,” matching the sentiment seen elsewhere in the province. Another town hall attendee suggested that “Toronto perhaps hasn’t connected as well with other cities across Ontario; it’s so easy for Toronto musicians to stay and over-saturate themselves in Toronto.”

Educational Gaps

Toronto participants consistently rated their level of knowledge and understanding of the various music industry roles more optimistically than did their counterparts in other parts of the province. Ultimately, there was not a single category for which the average response from Torontonians was that they knew too little about it. At a minimum, the average respondent felt that his or her knowledge of these industry roles was “neither too high nor too low,” and for most categories, the average response indicated that Torontonians’ level of understanding is at least “slightly high.”

The question of which educational initiatives would be most impactful for members of Toronto’s independent music community was somewhat polarizing, with little agreement amongst respondents for some of the proposed topics. For the most part, the bulk of survey participants rated the following proposed topics as extremely impactful: initiatives regarding getting media coverage; licensing music for film, TV, and video games; music marketing; and sponsorship and working with the private sector. These session ideas consistently outranked other potential topics, but the most highly rated subject, as also reflected in other markets, was government funding. It seems as though this latter topic is one that should be an immediate focus in markets throughout the province, but certainly in Toronto where it received such relatively high support.



Regional industry infrastructure

Hamilton’s town hall yielded some of the most positive comments in the project, as participants noted a strong artistic interest in the city. As one participant noted, “The Art Crawl has really changed the attitude and emphasis on art in the city.” Attendees also pointed to new initiatives being undertaken at the municipal level surrounding further artistic and music industry development, which altogether seems to indicate a heightened level of awareness across Hamilton’s arts scene.

That said, concerns were raised about the lack of promotions on an event-by-event basis: “Connecting with audiences is an issue. A greater web resource needed, or access to larger-scale awareness vehicles,” offered one town hall participant. Another agreed, adding: “It’s hard to access things that get the word out to a lot of people. Having access to a broader audience on a larger platform would be helpful.” It makes sense, then, that in the online survey — completed by 35 Hamilton-based stakeholders — an overwhelming group felt that the number of publicists and PR professionals working in the area was low. More town hall participants pointed to issues of fragmentation of media and concerns about audiences not knowing where to find information, which can certainly be connected to a diminished presence of publicity workers and varied media outlets in the local industry.

In terms of more technical industry assets, on average Hamilton respondents believed they had decent numbers of booking agents, artist managers, and recording studios — their responses were among the highest in the province. This is most concretely reflected in the city’s number of artist managers, which — even at a modest four — was found to be the second highest, after Toronto.

Community connectedness

For the most part, Hamilton respondents neither agreed nor disagreed with the statements about there being connectedness within their community and between Hamilton and other regions in Ontario. In the town hall, the responses were slightly more focused on existing issues of connectivity, as “living in Toronto’s shadow” was often cited as a regular concern the city faces. Said one participant: “Being so close to Toronto, it’s harder for the local music scene here to market itself in the media here. Local acts don’t get the exposure they would if they moved 40 minutes down the highway.” Some even recognized the hurdles nearby audiences may face if they were to visit Hamilton for shows: “Transit is an issue. Torontonians might like to come to Hamilton for a show, but that show’s going to end after the last bus runs.”

Educational gaps

When asked to rate their understanding and knowledge of various industry roles and resources, Hamiltonian respondents felt they knew least about music publishers, supervisors, and collective societies and rights management — continuing a pattern running through the rest of the province. Related to those results, Hamiltonians strongly indicated they wanted to learn most about music placement in television, film, and video games, when asked about ideal educational topics, which points to a wider interest in learning more about generating new revenue streams for musicians. As one town hall attendee noted, “It’s important for musicians to take care of their own business; workshops can help, here. Partnering or developing that further is key.”



Regional industry infrastructure

Similar to Hamilton, but to an even stronger extent, survey respondents in Guelph — of which there were 17 — generally agreed that they felt that music publicists, music publishers, and music supervisors were among the industry roles with the lowest numbers in their region, once again contributing to a similar province-wide pattern. When it comes to local industry challenges, Guelph town hall attendees pointed to paying jobs in general as a significant need in their community, along with “affordable practice space, appropriate venues” and the guarantee of making money off endeavours. It’s worth noting that, like many other smaller Ontario markets, Guelph was found to have a very low number of booking agents (two), recording studios (one), and no active artist managers. Town hall attendees also pointed to the community’s independently run festivals and events, such as Hillside, as city successes, but: “They could do with more support. There’s a lot of work happening from the ground up. We’re lucky to have enough people who are passionate enough.”

Community connectedness

Online survey responses to the question about connectedness within the community was about average: most responses hovered around the middle point, not necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with the statement: “music community within my region is well connected, and most of those who work in the sector are well aware of most initiatives and events that happen within the region.” Town hall attendees agreed that the sense of community is strong within Guelph’s music scene: “The cooperation in this city makes this city unique,” said one participant. “A lot of promoters have co-promoted shows together. The community is very tight here.” But when it came down to level of connectedness with other communities, the average response inched closer to disagreement, with responses suggesting there is less of a connection between Guelph and other Ontario communities — another result in line with those from other regions.

Educational gaps

Similar to the rest of the province, Guelph respondents felt their knowledge of collective societies and rights management, along with the roles of music supervisors and music publishers was low — slightly lower than the rest of Ontario. Also rated low in knowledge, and unique to Guelph, were the roles of recording engineers, producers, mastering engineers, and other studio personnel — in fact, a Recording 101 panel became a point of interest and discussion at the Guelph town hall. In terms of other desired workshop and panel topics, the subject of government funding was rated enthusiastically high as in most other markets, but touring and media coverage were also quite strongly desired topics in Guelph. At the town hall, there was plenty of interest in bringing musicians together at workshops and panels to share expertise: “A panel specific to types of musicians, able to offer insight on career paths” was brought up and could very well be used as an educational vehicle for any proposed topics.



Regional industry infrastructure

While falling in line with the provincial trend of noting a perceived lack of music supervisors, publishers and publicists, Kingston respondents (13 completed the survey) overwhelmingly suggested they’re experiencing a lack of managers and booking agents, too — nearly every respondent assigned the lowest possible rating to those two industry roles. This fell right in line with the industry asset research, which discovered only one active manager and one active booking agent working in the city. These sentiments were also reflected at Kingston’s town hall, where attendees talked at length about wanting to learn more about approaching agents, contacting venues, developing touring networks, and accessing festivals — responsibilities often handled by managers and booking agents.

Community connectedness

Kingston’s average response to both parts of the community connectedness question — asking participants how they perceived levels of connectedness both within their community and with others in Ontario — was among the highest in the province. This was certainly felt in Kingston’s town hall meeting, where participants remarked upon the “great grassroots music scene,” “more people talking to each other,” and the “greater efforts to collaborate.” Inter-community connectedness was still rated just slightly lower than intra-community connectedness, which was noted in one town hall comment: “Being close to major centres like Toronto and Ottawa, we don’t tend to have a place to go to to talk to someone for music industry support.” It’s clear that Kingston’s geographical situation between the two largest centres in Ontario poses some unique opportunities and challenges.

Educational gaps

Once again, similar to survey respondents from other regions, Kingston’s knowledge of industry roles fell in line with the trends of the rest of the province, where publishers, supervisors, and music industry associations being among the least understood positions. Among the better understood? Promoters and booking agents, which quite interestingly ties into Kingston’s emphasized desire to learn more about effectively promoting shows. This, along with the topic of using social media to grow your career and fanbase, was among the top desired educational topics in the city. These fell in line with general desires for promotional and media support brought up at the town hall: “Everybody knows what’s happening in Kingston except for Kingston,” said one attendee. “There is support here, but it only exists in certain pockets.”



Regional industry infrastructure

Kitchener/Waterloo survey respondents (of which there were 21) earmarked similar roles to that of the rest of the province — music supervisors, publishers, and publicists in particular, once again — as being the primary ones they believe to be the most lacking in their community. But on top of that, survey participants also cited managers, booking agents, venues and media outlets/journalists covering music sector as being in low numbers in their community. In fact, according to the industry databases created for this report, the region houses only two booking agents and one manager. This was also reflected in Kitchener/Waterloo’s town hall meeting, where promotion and awareness of music events was brought up as a wide-reaching issue: “Generally, getting stuff out there and engaging and informing the audience can be a challenge,” one attendee noted. This topic was raised alongside the issues of ensuring fair payment for artists and having resources to develop artists, which are issues often tackled by the very roles identified as being low in numbers in the region.

 Community connectedness

On a positive note, the Kitchener/Waterloo town hall event yielded many comments on the strength of the community, as participants noted “a positive energy and buzz” and “a culture of openness” engaging those involved in the local music scene. Despite these comments, respondents rated those strong community sentiments on the below-average side of the scale, compared to average scores across the rest of the province. Still, within-community connectedness did rate a few notches higher than between-community connectedness, a result quite similar to other southern Ontario cities of similar size.

Educational gaps

Kitchener/Waterloo respondents flagged a pretty significant lack of knowledge about music industry associations, though similar results were found in other mid-size communities including Peterborough, Guelph and Kingston. Most other industry roles and resources came in at about an average knowledge in Kitchener/Waterloo.

In terms of desired workshop and panel subjects, Kitchener/Waterloo was yet another community giving high marks to government funding and music licensing as two highly sought-after educational topics. The town hall event illustrated a significant general thirst for the sharing of more knowledge, as participants detailed ideas of “creating a space for bands and professionals to come together naturally,” forming helpful resources in the form of checklists for burgeoning artists, generally sharing resources among each other, and doing exit surveys on major events undertaken in the community.



Regional industry infrastructure

Once again in line with other communities surveyed, Peterborough’s 21 respondents noted a definite dearth of music supervisors, publishers, and publicists and PR professionals, but also added managers and booking agents to that list. In fact, the area is home to only one booking agent and no identified artist managers. Comments from the town hall meeting echoed these findings, as attendees noted that while “there is so much happening creatively and from a business point of view,” Peterborough is “having a hard time gathering the information we need to move forward, to get more people out and keep in touch with these people.”

Community connectedness

Peterborough rated pretty well for within-region connectedness — on the high side of average, compared to the rest of the province. At the town hall forum, it was clear many participants felt Peterborough is a very “fertile community” when it comes to its music scene. At the same time, there is a great desire to connect with more individuals within the city, or perhaps even new people outside of Peterborough: “We can’t keep playing for ourselves: success depends on more people coming out to see music. We need new blood,” said one town hall attendee. Peterborough’s rating of inter-community connectedness was on par with the rest of the province’s average sentiment that such connections and relations could be improved.

Educational gaps

Peterborough also fell in line with the provincial trend of flagging limited knowledge of music supervisors, industry associations, collective societies and rights management, but was among the most confident in the province when it comes to knowledge of promoters. It could point to a heightened awareness of shows: “Sometimes there are more shows than you can possibly get to” in Peterborough, according to one town hall attendee. Participants also positively remarked upon the significant number of venues in the city.

Highest-rated educational topics also fell in line with the trend of the rest of the province, with government funding coming out strong once again. At Peterborough’s town hall, attendees raised concerns “that artists ‘get slaughtered’ in the grant application process — it’s difficult; sometimes a project is worthwhile, but doesn’t fit the requirements.” In contrast to many other markets, Peterborough respondents signalled a pointed desire to learn more about radio, working with trackers and promoters, and discussed finding more promotional opportunities for artists at several points at their town hall.



Regional industry infrastructure

Burlington’s 12 survey respondents emphasized a perceived lack of artist managers, similar to the rest of the province — but also noted their strong feeling that Burlington is lacking in venues. At Burlington’s town hall forum, participants remarked upon the city’s “few venues — so people go elsewhere,” and that it has become “difficult to rent spaces.” Additionally, attendees noted: “There’s no accessible venue that puts on music regularly… we all go to Hamilton, or Guelph.” Interestingly, Burlington was found to be home to three artist managers, though that number still puts them behind a city like Hamilton — a finding that may amplify the sentiments in those town hall remarks. On a positive note, six recording studios can be found in Burlington, which puts the community in the upper tier of Ontario regions offering several of these business.

Community connectedness

Community connectedness within Burlington is fairly strong, hovering around the provincial average. At Burlington’s town hall forum, attendees highlighted their “tight-knit community,”where they’ve had an “established scene for many years” with a “communal network,” where “people are supportive of one another.”

Local respondents rated the relationship between Burlington and other communities as below average, similar to other small regions in Ontario. Discussions at the town hall did cover the challenge of proximity to those larger cities: “Being so close to Hamilton and Toronto, there’s not much outside interest” in the Burlington scene, attendees suggested.

Educational gaps

When asked about their existing knowledge of industry roles and resources, Burlington respondents noted those they knew the least about were mainly collective societies and rights management, music supervisors, and music industry associations, all very similar to the rest of the province.

There was, in fact, overwhelming support for learning more about licensing your music for use in film, TV, and video games, when respondents were asked about desired eduational topics, with an average rating stronger than any other market for the subject. Also rated high was the topic of sponsorship and working with the private sector, which all indicate a desire to gain more tools for financial support of the local industry. The topic of government funding was also popular among survey respondents, similar to the rest of the province — town hall participants also brought up their desire for “learning more about existing structures, like FACTOR.”



Regional industry infrastructure

In line with other regions of a similar size, such as Peterborough and St. Catharines/Niagara, Barrie had fairly low scores across the board when asked to rate how many industry assets exist in their community, indicating most respondents felt their community lacked in many of these industry roles and resources. Indeed, Barrie houses three recording studios, only one booking agent, and no currently operating artist managers. Similar to other markets, the call for more venues was strong at the town hall, with an emphasis on non-alcoholic, all-ages venues, and a desire to see more general support and a stronger push for those.

Community connectedness

Barrie yielded the lowest scores in the province for both connectedness within their community and with other communities, according to the online survey (which 10 Barrie-based stakeholders completed). There is, however, a strong desire to improve that sense of connectedness, according to town hall participants: there is a “strong desire to have a robust networking platform, perhaps based around a solid database or membership directory,” as people spoke of how they “want to meet more people in the community right here.” The discussion also spurred such ideas as a membership directory, and “having a Linked In-like way of recommending other people, to know who to talk to” in the industry.

Educational gaps

Barrie’s understanding of industry roles was on par with that of the rest of the province, as music publishers, music supervisors, and collective societies and rights management were among the roles and resources respondents knew the least about. Survey results also indicated a very strong desire to learn more about music marketing and using social media to cultivate audiences and fanbases, as well as how to work with radio stations — all on top of a strong desire to learn more about government funding, just as so many other markets emphasized. In general, Barrie residents made it clear they hoped to further develop several aspects of their music scene, specifically through education: “There’s a desire among some younger artists to learn more from established artists,” said one attendee. “Industry panels would be helpful,” suggested another, while another added they “could have Google Hangouts: [online] meetings and consultations with industry experts.” Altogether, attendees agreed that there is “definitely a desire for more resources, or direction to resources — like finding out more about SOCAN, FACTOR, and other grant programs.”



Regional industry infrastructure

When asked to detail how many music industry workers in different roles and jobs they believed there to be in their communities, respondents from Windsor and the Sarnia region had survey results most similar to the larger cities of Toronto and Ottawa: the 11 survey respondents suggested that artist managers and booking agents were among the lowest in numbers in their respective scenes. This was even reflected in comments shared at the town hall, as one attendee explained that “artists are required to multitask — advertise, seek funding, perform, budgeting, everything — all of the technical and administrative part is exhausting.” No booking agents were encountered in either the Windsor or Sarnia regions, and only one no longer active artist manager was identified in Windsor.

Community connectedness

According to online survey results, Windsor and surrounding-area respondents had some of the strongest sentiments of within-community connectedness — the response average ranked higher than that of any other community — and the feeling was similarly high when asked about connectedness between communities, too. An interesting point about geographical location in this respect was raised at the town hall meeting held in Windsor: “[Our] proximity to Detroit — such a nationally acclaimed music mecca, it’s an interesting relationship.” Because of this, it’s possible that Windsor has the most unique perspective on and experience with inter-community relations compared to the rest of Ontario.

Educational gaps

Right in line with the rest of the province’s responses, roles with low knowledge identified by Windsor and area respondent included publicists, music supervisors, and collective societies and rights management, further highlighting possibly the clearest trend to rise out of this report. Among the roles with the highest rate of understanding in this region, however, was live music promoters. Comments from the town hall meeting in Windsor supported this, as attendees recognized the city has “lots of venues to support the local community” and “lots of live festivals — something seems to be going on every weekend in the summer, and turnout seems to be good.”

Among desired topics of learning identified by Windsor respondents: government funding and music licensing rose to the top, as they did in other markets; but additionally, several more business-minded topics cropped up, including music marketing, and artist management — which was rated higher in this region than anywhere else. Sponsorship and working with the private sector also emerged as another solid topic of choice. Many of these were brought up in Windsor’s town hall, as attendees suggested they “would like to know more about resource development, branding and social media, what’s working and what’s not, and learning more about the business aspect.”

Regional industry infrastructure

Online survey responses from St. Catharines and Niagara were very much in line with rest of the province, as respondents reported low numbers of publicists, music publishers, and music supervisors in their communities. In fact, for this region, all seven survey responses reflected generally low average numbers of all music industry roles and resources across the board, furthering a trend that smaller regions in the province often reflected. Only four recording studios were identified, three in St. Catharines and one in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and no booking agents or managers were discovered across the entire region.

Community connectedness

St. Catharines and Niagara residents rated their local community connectedness quite low — the average was among the lowest in the province. One unfortunate representation of this was the fact that the local town hall event had to be cancelled, due to no attendees showing up. It’s worth noting, of course, that the sample size for this region was among the lowest across the project, so it’s hard to consider this wholly or accurately representative of the entire region. Nevertheless, it’s clear that the music community in the area could use some support from all sides.

Educational gaps

When asked to rate their current knowledge of industry roles and resources, St. Catharines and Niagara’s responses were in line with rest of the province, emphasizing music supervisors, music industry associations, and collective societies and rights management as the industry aspects they knew the least about. In terms of educational topics they hoped to see highlighted in their community, there was a significant desire to see licensing and placement in TV and film, as well as government funding highlighted in future workshops and panels — but there was also a very distinct call to learn more about touring and playing live. This particular topic had the strongest relevance for those in smaller markets like St. Catharines, London, and Guelph.

Conclusion and Next Steps

When it comes to growth and development in the Ontario music industry, it is evident that there is work cut out for industry members across the province. The public Sound Off! Ontario initiative only scratched the surface of the many complex challenges facing individual communities and even the province at large; but part of the motivation behind the CDRP was to launch a conversation and frame the discussion on where to go next in terms of industry development. With these snapshots of educational and infrastructural needs across the province, communities can begin working individually and in partnership to provide their industry members with the support and resources they need to succeed.


Download the full report here to access useful appendices, survey results and regional statistics.

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