New Report Outlines Devastating Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Independent Music Industry

A new report details just how much the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Canadian independent musicians. Among the most shocking revelations: the evaporation of the live music scene has led to a decline in revenue of CAD 280 million in just six months and that the industry will likely not recover to pre-COVID levels until at least 2023.

The report, entitled The Impact of COVID-19 on Canadian Independent Music, was conducted by Nordicity on behalf of the Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA) and shines a light on the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Canadian independent music sector.

The key challenges include:

  • Drop in revenue: Since the start of the pandemic in March, independent music in Canada has seen a drop in revenue of CAD 280 million. The revenue loss has been most acute for emerging artists and their representatives:
  • The live sector has been the hardest hit, with a 79% drop in income from 2019;
  • Independent sound recording and publishing companies will see a 41% decline in revenue from 2019
  • Almost 2,000 FTE (full-time equivalent) jobs lost in six months
  • Long recovery: In a best-case scenario, industry revenue will not recover to pre-COVID levels until 2023-2024, and only with further emergency financial supports;
  • Lack of audience development: With new musicians unable to promote their work in concerts, the commercial viability of their projects will suffer. As such, the longer this impact continues, the longer the impact will be on the industry ability to generate revenue in the future;
  • Need for greater diversity: While not a new issue, the pandemic (and events that occurred during it) have highlighted the need for the industry to improve access to different voices. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have not seen the same funding support as the rest of their peers – both as artists and as music industry entrepreneurs.
  • Policy and regulatory uncertainty: Between the variable funding levels at the Canada Music Fund, the potential reforms to the Copyright Act, and the recently introduced Broadcasting Act legislation (Bill C-10), there is uncertainty surrounding how Canadian independent music companies will be supported as they recover from the pandemic.

As part of the Nordicity report, CIMA includes several recommendations for additional supports that can back the independent music industry as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the recommendations:

  • Extending and enhancing the Canada Music Fund’s Annual and Supplemental Funding.
  • Increasing flexibility in how funding is disbursed;
  • Enhancing financial and technical support for audience development;
  • Providing wage support for workers in the Canadian music sector;
  • Creating tailored financing for underrepresented groups; and
  • Enhancing support for online training for new and emerging music professionals