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    The Canadian Music Industry Asks Federal Government for Urgent Relief for the Industry During Covid-19 Pandemic
    The Canadian Music Industry Asks Federal Government for Urgent Relief for the Industry During Covid-19 Pandemic

    02 Apr 2020

    April 1, 2020

    TORONTO, ON —The Canadian music industry is asking the Federal government for further action including robust financial support and flexibility in funding rules that would support the artists and the industry’s small business community that is suffering through the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The Canadian and global music industry is currently experiencing unprecedented upheaval and turmoil due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Companies are barely operating and surviving with record low to no revenues, staff are being laid off, artists and musicians’ livelihoods are collapsing, and venues are closed indefinitely. In short, the Canadian and global music industries are being severely and devastatingly impacted.

    The industry is grateful for the extensive and broad measures that the federal government and other levels of government have implemented recently. We look forward to the details and implementation of these measures, and future announcements in response to the very serious nature of this unprecedented global circumstance in which we all find ourselves. We are confident that these government measures will help provide much needed assistance to Canadians, and we call on governments to continue to focus attention on those who are vulnerable, namely our artists and the small business community that supports them.

    Industry groups and associations launched a survey March 17-19 in order to capture the current state of the music sector during this COVID-19 pandemic crisis.  This survey received nearly 3,000 responses from a wide cross-section of the industry, from labels and publishers, to artists and musicians, to promoters and live venues and more.

    The scope of the devastation captured by the survey is staggering. Results show that the vast majority (97%) of respondents stated that the COVID-19 situation is impacting their business. Staff layoffs have already begun across the industry, and many more are expected with some companies anticipating a need to lay off 75-100% of their employees. With revenues that have all but disappeared, combined with unrecoverable expenses as a result of the mass cancellations and postponements of music industry events, tours and other initiatives across the world, the majority of business respondents stated they will be able to sustain their operations for no more six months, and only 4% will be able to keep their business going for up to a year.

    These results reflect a moment in time when the music industry believed the COVID-19 impacts would only impact them for the next two to three months. The current reality is the impacts are far more dramatic and its effects will likely last up to a year or more. This means that the industry responses are in reality dramatically more acute than what the survey respondents noted at the time.

    As a result, the music industry is asking the Federal government for immediate action that can help sustain the industry during these difficult times:

    • Invest more targeted funding to the music industry quickly, with the goal to sustain business continuity; invest in musicians and artists; retain staff and contract workers; pay overhead etc., with as few restrictions as possible.
    •  Expand the funding envelope to include the broader music sector including artists, musicians, composers, managers, publishers, studios, promoters, songwriters and live music (venues, promoters, talent agencies and supply chain) and relevant associations.

    “Times like these remind us all just how essential and powerful music is at helping bring us together and carry us through crises. The willingness of the music industry to contribute to community life these past weeks has been on full display. However, our artists, industry workers, and companies are suffering particularly hard, and will not survive the shutdown of performing, touring, and recording without urgently needed assistance.” – Sean McManus, President, CCMIA.

    “We don’t want to give up on the successes our industry has earned over the last few years. The Federal Government has already taken good, important steps to protect and support Canadians during this pandemic. We are now asking the government for targeted support to help the most vulnerable in our sector, namely small-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and Canadian artists that have been and continue to be, severely impacted by this pandemic.” — Stuart Johnston, President, CIMA.

    “We know the Minister understands, and is attempting to address, the complexity of our ecosystems, and we thank the Department and Federal government for their tireless efforts.  It’s our hope that we can meet those complex needs on as many levels as possible, so there will still be an industry to return to when the recovery period begins, and we can celebrate and rejoice, together. Our artists, our fans and our future are depending on all of us.” – Erin Benjamin, President & CEO, Canadian Live Music Association.

    “Artists and the CEOs of their businesses, the managers, have been particularly impacted by this pandemic with the vast majority of revenue at a standstill for the foreseeable future. Government financial relief for this sector is vital for survival.” – Meg Symsyk, President, MMF.

    It is expected it will take a year or more for the industry to start to get back on its feet. Immediate and sustained assistance will help the industry to weather this storm and be prepared when “normalcy” returns to the world.


    Media contact:
    Elise Rustad
    Senior Policy Advisor, CIMA
    Cell: 416.432.2099

    Link to this press release from our website.

    COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario’s Music Industry

    UPDATED: April 1, 2020


    The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, and announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 in a variety of ways, and who might not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

    We are still trying to determine eligibility and variables affecting how the music industry is able to access these release dollars.

    On April 1st, a collective of associations representing artists, composers, entrepreneurs, and small businesses put out a call imploring the Federal Government for urgent relief for the Canadian music industry. You can read it here.

    The information we do have publicly available is below.


    Support for individuals & families:


    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in March additional new measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic to help Canadian businesses protect the jobs that Canadians depend on, and pay their workers and bills during these difficult times:

    • A 75% wage subsidy of up to $58,700 per employee (up to $847 per week) for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month. More details available here.
    • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.
    • Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero per cent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.
    • Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.
    • The full news release can be found here.

    On April 1, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng, and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, announced the details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:

    • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
    • ​​Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances.
    • The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
    • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees.
    • All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
    • Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details regarding how to apply for the program will follow.
    • Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

    for Canadian business owners, entrepreneurs, artists, and those who are self-employed:

    • Visit Canada’s website for businesses for information about supporting your employees and your business. It will be constantly updated as the COVID-19 crisis evolves.
    • Download the Canada Business App to find tailored supports to address your specific needs and questions about COVID-19.
    • Consult the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s pandemic preparedness guide to help prepare your business in the days and weeks to come.
    • Contact your bank. Canada’s banks have made a commitment to support businesses and individuals through these difficult times in a responsible, fair, and compassionate way. To help provide some stability for businesses through this time of uncertainty, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer requirement, releasing more than $300 billion of additional lending capacity for Canadian financial institutions.
    • The Department of Finance Canada has a thorough resource here outlining how the government is taking action to help Canadians experiencing hardship, including detail about flexibility for taxpayers.
    • The Government is essentiall eliminating the payroll tax for three months by providing a 10% wage subsidy to small businesses – this will keep people employed. More details here.
    • The Government is also helping businesses with cash flow by deferring tax payments until August 31st;
    • Applications will open in April through your Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) “My Account portal, your My Service Canada account, and a TBA toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

    Read the full news release from the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, outlining Canada’s $82 billion support and relief plan for Canadians.

    MusicOntario will continue to update you as new and/or pertinent information becomes available.


      • Airline Cancellation Policies: A comprehensive guide by Forbes can be found here.
      • Bandzoogle has put together this handy blog: How musicians can ask fans for support during the coronavirus pandemic.
      • Updates from the City of Brampton can be found here. They are also conducting an Arts & Culture Impact Survey – fill it out here.
      • Canada‘s official response to COVID-19 can be found here, with frequent live updates.
      • Canada Council for the Arts: Information about CCA’s cancellation policy can be found here.
      • Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA)‘s list of COVID-19 resources for Canada’s indie sector can be found here.
      • Canadian Live Music Association‘s Request for relief to the Canadian government can be found here.
      • Canada Public Health has info about the situation available here.
      • CAPACOA is asking you to track cancellations affecting the Canadian live performance sector here.
      • The CBC has a list of resources for Canadian artists and freelancers can be found here – note that this list is cross-disciplinary, not just limited to music.
      • City of Toronto: Property tax / utility bill grace period: A 60-day grace period is in effect for City of Toronto property tax, water and solid waste utility bill payments for all residents and businesses, for bills dated as of March 16. As well, late payment penalties for residential and business properties will be waived for 60 days, starting the same day. The City’s COVID-19 info page is here, and information about economic support and recovery can be found here. They are also conducting a survey to better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on local businesses.
      • The Department of Finance Canada has a thorough resource here outlining how the government is taking action to help Canadians experiencing hardship, including detail about flexibility for taxpayers.
      • FACTOR: Information about FACTOR’s cancellation policy can be found here.
        FACTOR has also extended some of its upcoming deadlines:
        – Artist Development and Juried Sound Recording deadline is extended by two weeks, from May 14 to May 28.
        – Business Development as part of the Support for Eligible Music Companies program is extended by 4 weeks, from April 23 to May 21.
      • I Lost My Gig is a support group on Facebook for folks from various disciplines in the Gig Economy to gather, listen, and share.
      • The London Music Office has a handy guide for supporting local music.
      • Long Winter has compiled a list of resources here for geared toward artists and workers in DIY communities
      • Music Managers Forum Canada has an incredibly thorough resource page that is being constantly updated here.
      • MusicOntario (it’s us!) will be reposting all sorts of things on our socials/to our stories – have a peek there for various updates, interesting content from the community, streaming events, and other tidbits to help pass the time.
      • The National Arts Centre and Facebook Canada have teamed up to launch #CanadaPerforms streaming concerts. Canadian performing artists (including musicians, comedians, dancers, singers, theatre artists, and ensembles of less than 10 people) can apply by email to the NAC at Performers are asked to send their names, a description of a 45- to 60-minute livestream performance they will give, their chosen date between Thursday and March 31, 2020, and what streaming platform they will use. Performers will receive a $1,000 grant, with NAC staffers and industry leaders to select the fund recipients. Some artists will also have their performances shared by the NAC through its Facebook page as part of #CanadaPerforms.
      • Ontario Arts Council‘s policies on COVID-19 can be found here.
      • Ontario Creates has posted its COVID-19 Response Plan for stakeholders here.
      • Ontario Ministry of Health resource page.
      • Ontario Presents is offering to host online of phone-based meetings free of charge for any Ontario-based artist, agent, presenter, or other art presenting industry professional who needs to host a meeting but does not have the means to do so. You may contact They also have a page of resources for arts presenters here, and a document outlining Coronavirus Response for the Live Performance Sector here.
      • Radio Starmaker: The Board of the Radio Starmaker Fund wants to inform all stakeholders that any previous tour dates that were approved and were to take place between February 15th and August 31st of this year will be fully funded if they were canceled as a result of the coronavirus. All you will need to do when filling out final paperwork is indicate the reason for the cancellation was coronavirus – no other proof will be necessary. This same policy will also be in effect with regard to tour dates approved by the Board for Round 74. We are currently examining the impact of the coronavirus outbreak and the implications it may have on future touring. Currently, when we open our next round we are considering a moratorium on requests for tour funding for all performances from April 1st to May 31st of this year given the very high likelihood of cancellation. We will be monitoring this situation over the next few weeks and making a final determination on or before April 10th when we plan to open the next round of funding. In the meantime, we wanted everyone to know this is a possibility as tour plans are made this year.
      • Spotify has partnered with Unison Fund to help support the Canadian music community, matching donations up to $10 million USD. To support the Unison and Spotify Canada initiative, we invite you to visit this page and donate today:
      • The Toronto Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Foundation have partnered to create TOArtist COVID Response Fund, allocating up to $1000 to self-employed, individual artists resident in Toronto whose creative work and income have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are open now and will be accepted until 11:59pmEST on April 30, 2020 through TAC’s online portal
    • Toronto Musicians Association has information and resources for financial assistance and bill payment relief here.
    • Unison Benevolent Fund has announced its COVID-19 Relief Program, with an initial donation of $250,000 from the Slaight Family Foundation, matched by the Unison office, offering $500,000 to provide assistance to Canada’s music community. Read the full press release here.
    • Unison Benevolent Fund has information about how they can help here, or you can call 1-855-986-4766 for inquiries to help you deal with the financial or emotional impact of coronavirus.
    • Unison also has a great list of national and provincial financial resources here.
    • Worldwide Independent Network has a list of resources for the indie music community across the work here.
    • World Health Organization

    Original statement from MusicOntario regarding COVID-19 on March 16, 2020:

    As the music community comes together during the novel COVID-19 pandemic, we hope to keep you informed of developments as they roll out.

    Ontario has declared a state of emergency, and we understand the severe implications for our members and stakeholders, with small businesses and venues closing, tours cancelling, and the gig economy in which so many of us thrive in limbo.

    Artists, performers, and musicians are without income, and the entrepreneurs and companies that work to promote, support, and elevate Canadian music are all seeing their livelihoods in jeopardy. Please review the information below in case it may be of assistance.

    We are staying abreast of the situation as it pertains to the music industry in Ontario, and implore everyone to stay as safe as possible through this stressful and uncertain time.

    Please note that the MusicOntario office is closed, and we will be working remotely until the proper health officials advise that it is wise to return. We are working to understand what that means for upcoming programs and events, and we will keep you posted via our various social platforms.

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