Summary

Proposal to Create a Canadian Musician Support Fund  

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Rationale:

  1. Music is essential to our cultural identity and enriches Canadian lives.  It is scientifically proven that music improves mental health and physical well-being. Because music significantly enhances life, Canadians value and enjoy music daily

  2. Most professional musicians can no longer earn a sustainable living wage from music creation and performances. This is due to diminished royalties caused by music streaming, and declining performance opportunities due to the current economic struggles of performance venues.

  3. For many years, live music venue operators have struggled economically in part due to soaring real estate leases. These economic challenges have also kept most musician performance wages below living wage standards. The current pandemic crisis has shut down performance venues causing seemingly irrecoverable economic stress. Without significant ongoing government financial support, it is predicted that many venues will go out of business. The current COVID-19 benefits are not enough financial support to what will be needed to ensure the recovery of live music venues and professional musicians. Without long-term financial support, many live music venues and performing musicians will permanently go out of business.

  4. For more than a decade, streaming corporations have dominated the primary medium through which music consumers listen to music, and how artists monetize their recordings. The sole product of streaming corporations is the distribution of musicians’ creative recordings. Despite numerous court challenges, streaming corporations continue to exploit creative artists with unfair low royalty rates that pay an average half cent per stream. Streaming corporations have resisted paying fair royalty rates despite generating over 7 billion in annual gross earnings from streaming subscribers. For creative artists to recover, this exploitive profit share must be remedied.

  5. Music consumers have for decades enjoyed extremely low monthly subscription rates for unlimited access to streamed music. Most streaming subscribers seem unaware that creators are being financially exploited by streaming corporations. All internet users listen to streamed music through free or paid services. In order for music creators to earn a sustainable living wage, it is necessary for music consumers understand the need for fair pay for artists and to support them as they are the suppliers of the daily essential music content that they consume.

Some of the possible solutions could include:

  1. In order for creative and performing musicians, as well as live music venues to operate with a sustainable revenue stream that generates a living wage, a new government fund could be created to top up artists annual earnings and provide financial incentives for live music venues to create performance opportunities that pay musicians well. This Canadian Musician Support Fund (CMSF) will also become an additional source of grants to fund new creative works.  As well, CMSF will support Canadian music education to develop young musicians who will grow our national music culture and provide music services that are essential in citizens’ lives.

  2. Similar to some EU tax laws, specifically in Ireland and Germany, all music/artist related income could be tax exempt as further financial compensation for our government’s unsuccessful best efforts to protect musicians’ creative content from streaming exploitation that has resulted in our music economy’s devastating devaluation.

  3. A strategic PR campaign could be used to form a coalition of musicians across Canada to promote, through selected representatives, a public information platform that educates the public regarding internet and data subscriptions, so that musicians and music venues can continue to provide essential music services to the public but at a fair and living wager.