According to a report commissioned by Music Canada and released today at NXNE Interactive (NXNEi), Toronto is one of the greatest music cities in the world, and yet it could be doing much more to maximize the economic benefits of the music cluster.
Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth, Leveraging Best Practices from Austin, Texas (PDF) was presented by Author Nikki Rowling and discussed by panelists City Councillor Josh Colle, live music venue operator and promoter Jeff Cohen, and Music Canada President Graham Henderson.
“The music cluster strategy is an important step forward to helping Toronto claim its rightful place as one of the best music cities in the world. With legendary live music venues, a vibrant recording industry, and celebrated festivals such as NXNE, Toronto’s music scene is second to none,” says City Councillor Josh Colle.
Music Canada, which represents the major multinational music companies in Canada, who employ hundreds of Torontonians in their Canadian headquarters, commissioned the study in order to identify how Toronto can compete with cities like Austin, Texas, which advertises itself as the “Live Music Capital of the World”.
“Toronto is one of the top two or three music cities in North America. The music community generates thousands of jobs and enormous economic spinoffs including tourism, and yet it is not recognized as an important commercial sector that warrants a strategy or promotion,” explains Graham Henderson. “Imagine what we could do with a plan like Austin’s, or in fact, with the type of recognition and promotion that has been extended to Toronto’s successful film and television sector.”
Accelerating Toronto’s Music Industry Growth demonstrates that in Austin, music is considered commerce, and the commercial music sector has been identified as a key component of the economy. In Toronto, according to the report, music is considered art and has been undervalued as an economic contributor. It outlines some of the challenges faced by recording studios and live music venues and advocates for a more business-friendly environment.
“Toronto has one of the highest ratios of live music venues to population in North America,” says Jeff Cohen of Collective Concerts. “This privately created asset can be leveraged in order to increase tourism and other economic spinoffs, but it first must be recognized as an important sector of the community. This should begin at City Hall with the creation of a licensing category for live music venues, rather than lumping them in with pool halls, restaurants or dance clubs, and the establishment of a single point of contact for live music similar to the Film and Television office. ”
- Create a Music Industry Board to provide industry input through the Economic Development Committee;
- Create a Music Industry Office to provide coordination across the various city departments that deal with issues relating to live music events and venues;
- Create a Provincial Ontario Music Office;
- Expand the Provincial Music Production Tax Credit to mirror the successful film and television tax credits;
- Proactively pursue music tourism programs included a multi-day international music festival.
Toronto’s music cluster was discussed by Toronto’s Economic Development Committee on February 21, 2012 at which time Music Canada presented early findings of this study. City staff has been directed to return to the committee with a report and recommendations.