Saskatchewan

Sask Music hoping to capture pre-pandemic industry snapshot through survey

"Sometimes having hard data, it demonstrates the case for music to exist and needs it to be supported both morally and economically," Lorena Kelly says.

'Sometimes having hard data, it demonstrates the case for music to exist,' Lorena Kelly says

The Regina Folk Festival celebrated 50 years in 2019 and had to do small programming in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Chris Graham/Regina Folk Festival)

Sask Music is conducting a survey in hopes of understanding what the industry was like before the pandemic hit.  

The Music Matters Survey is an economic impact survey to capture data about the last so-called regular year of activities in Saskatchewan's music industry. It's being run by Nordicity. 

"We could see that the pandemic was having some significant impacts," Lorena Kelly, the communications and operations manager at Sask Music, said.

"And we realized we didn't have any benchmark data for a current normal year of music, so that once we're on the other side of all of this, we can look at things and know when we've actually achieved a recovery."

The last time a survey like this was conducted was 2008, and those responses are widely outdated, Kelly said. They're hoping to estimate the economic impact, social benefits and financial health of the local music scene. 

The Ness Creek Music Festival was supposed to celebrate 30 years in 2020. Instead it was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. (Nathan Jones/Ness Creek Music Festival/Facebook)

People will be asked how much money they make, what their expenses are and the survey will try to measure how many people are in the industry. Kelly said without that data, they're unsure if the industry is growing or shrinking.

"We always want to make sure that the supports we're getting are appropriate for the size of the industry," Kelly said. "We find it really challenging to know how many people there are and how much money they're making and without that really we can't advocate properly on the other side of this."

It's great for us to have the numbers to show that, yes, our industry is just as large as other very important industries.- Lorena Kelly

"And it's going to be just so crucially important to see that on the other side of the pandemic, how we rebounded," she said. "Are we going to be rebounding in the same way? So is live music still going to be as much of an important revenue stream on the other side of this as it was in 2019?" 

Kelly said currently they only have anecdotal evidence of highly-skilled people — such as sound and lighting technicians and recording engineers — leaving the province. Estimating revenue loss is also difficult without hard data, she said. 

Kelly said anyone who has had anything to do with music in 2019 or 2020 is asked to participate, including industry artists/workers, music teachers, venue owners, producers, lighting and sound technicians, publicists, accountants and lawyers. 

Hard data demonstrates the case for music economically: Sask Music

Sask Music will also look at who accessed federal support, how venues are surviving, if venues closed and how people are diversifying — such as music teachers and symphonies moving to digital rehearsals and performances. 

"Just as importantly, a lot of times there's a misconception that the arts don't have an impact, especially economically," she said. "And it's great for us to have the numbers to show that, yes, our industry is just as large as other very important industries in the province."

Kelly said she hopes this shows how the music industry professionals make an impact on quality of life and economics. 

"Sometimes having hard data, it demonstrates the case for music to exist and needs it to be supported both morally and economically."

Responses to the survey are confidential and anonymous. People who answer the survey will also be entered into a prize draw. The deadline for people involved in any way with the industry to take the survey is April 12 .

now