Not enough Indigenous music on streaming sites, says industry vet

According to Braydon Stachel's research, 60 per cent of Juno-winning or Juno-nominated albums by Canadian Indigenous artists aren't available on streaming services — and he has a plan to change that.

That's why Braydon Stachel of Kingston, Ont., has launched The Legacy Project

Ottawa duo Twin Flames have their music on Spotify, but according to research compiled by a Kingston, Ont., music industry veteran, many Canadian Indigenous artists aren't available on streaming services. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

On a recent trip to Louisiana, Braydon Stachel had a revelation.

"I was finding all this music from the local New Orleans scenes that I couldn't find on streaming platforms. And it kind of rubbed me the wrong way," said the Kingston, Ont., music industry veteran.

"When I came back to Canada, I started looking [into whether it was] an issue here in the Canadian music scene. And that's when I found out that, one, yes it was, and two, it was just disproportionately affecting our Indigenous creators."

Stachel is now spearheading what he's called The Legacy Project, to ensure Indigenous musicians are better represented on streaming music services like Spotify.

According to his research, 60 per cent of Juno-winning or Juno-nominated albums by Canadian Indigenous artists aren't available on those sorts of services.

"A lot of these albums were put out on makeshift labels or completely independent ones ... there's just been nobody there to actually put it on streaming platforms," he told CBC Radio's All In A Day this week.

When one Kingston man compiled a list of more than two hundred Canadian albums that are NOT available on mainstream streaming platforms, he found that many of them were the work of Indigenous artists. 9:13

'Everyone is incredibly excited'

While his not-for-profit is still in its early stages, Stachel said he's being supported by both the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) and Songtrust, which works to ensure musicians are paid royalties when their music is streamed.

Stachel has also applied to the Canada Council for the Arts for funding, and — as he's not Indigenous himself — is working in conjunction with an Indigenous advisor at Queen's University on the project.

"The reaction I've gotten preliminarily has been positive. Obviously if there is an artist out there who, for whatever reason — their beliefs, they don't want to be on there — I have to respect that. And I'm not going to push them for it. It's your music, you can do what you want with it," he said.

"From the artists I have spoken with, and the elders that my advisors have spoken with, everyone is incredibly excited about it."

According to Braydon Strachel's research, roughly six out of every 10 albums by Canadian Indigenous artists that were up for Juno awards are not available on streaming music platforms like Spotify. (Dado Ruvic/Reuters)

'As long as there's accountability'

It's nice to have support from "allies" in the music industry who want to expose more people to Indigenous music, said Chelsey June, one-half of award-winning Ottawa duo Twin Flames.

"I'm very wary of who's trying to help, because if you look at history as a whole, there's been a whole lot of helping not necessarily with hearts in the right places," said June, who is Métis.

"As long as there's accountability, and if he's had already a career in the music industry and has those connections that most of us don't — that right there is a huge advantage."

According to June and her musical partner Jaaji, one obstacle facing Indigenous musicians is that — whether for cultural or geographical reasons — they may lack access to workshops and conferences that explain the ins-and-outs of the modern music industry.

"Some of them have been [doing this for] 30 years and they've never really got a chance to get even a CD made," said Jaaji, who is Inuk and Mohawk.

"Spotify is a beast," added June. "I've [spent] countless hours in front of my laptop watching how-to videos on how to get on playlists. And the reality is many of us are not represented."