The B.C. music community brought out its big guns Thursday as part of a provincial push to reinvigorate the local industry.
Michael Bublé joined Premier Christy Clark as she announced a $15 million grant to help create a B.C. Music Fund, and a lengthy report — B.C.'s Music Sector: From Adversity to Opportunity — was released.
Clark recalled her first gig — local punk bands D.O.A. and Pointed Sticks at the Italian Cultural centre when she was in Grade 10 — as the point at which her love for live music began.
She talked of seeing Green Day in the early days, as well as Bublé, when he was just 16, performing in a local mosque.
The Premier said the grant would not only help support and keep local musicians in B.C., but will also help grow and support the local music recording business.
"If we can become the L.A. of Canada for film, " she said. "Why can't we become the Nashville of [Canada] for Music."
Welcoming the injection of cash, Bublé said the money would make "an incredible impact.
"Today the rock stars are cheering for you," he said.
"It's never been tougher to develop a career as an artist," he said, noting that the new B.C. Music Fund — to be coordinated by Creative BC — would be a boost for emerging artists who want to pursue their career within the province.
'I realize how lucky I was'
The report — with a forward by Bublé — argues that music is a strong force in the province, not just culturally and artistically, but also economically, and recommends several strategies for building on it as a resource to drive education, employment and tourism.
According to Bublé, the opportunities afforded to him growing up as an aspiring musician in B.C. are much diminished.
"When I look back, I realize how lucky I was," he writes.
"There was a thriving music ecosystem in BC with the people, support, infrastructure and funding that made it possible to move up the ladder. Young artists today face a starkly different reality.
"Opportunities for musicians are fewer and further between."
The report notes that B.C. punches above its weight in the international music scene, with a raft of A-list stars including Bublé, Bryan Adams, Nelly Furtado and Sarah McLachlan among them, is a thriving sound recording and record label production hub, and that live music is a significant cultural force among the province's communities.
Nevertheless, the report says, the local industry is in serious decline.
The impact of external global pressures such as the economic and artistic changes brought about through advances in digital technology notwithstanding, the report says that there are pressures closer to home that can and should be addressed.
Incentives for artists to stay in, or move to B.C., the reduction of red tape around liquor licensing of venues and at festivals, as well as support for school-based music education are all initiatives the report says are needed to revitalize this sector.
In all, the report makes 26 recommendations, including proper planning for new music venues when land use decisions are made, and the appointment of a municipal music officer to serve as a liaison between music businesses and city hall, and act as an advocate for music tourism.
Read the full report.