Closure of Toronto’s Cadillac Lounge part of industry-wide challenges, expert says

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Toronto’s Cadillac Lounge music venue to shut down
WATCH ABOVE: A west-end Toronto music lounge is closing down after nearly two decades in business. Cadillac Lounge is set to host its last live band. As Albert Delitala explains, the closure is believed to be only part of big changes in the industry – Jul 12, 2019

After nearly two decades in business, the Cadillac Lounge music venue in west Toronto is shutting down — a move an expert says is part of ongoing changes in the industry.

“I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions, for sure,” said owner Sam Grosso.

“It’s going to be a busy weekend, so that’ll probably keep the emotions in check just to make sure everything goes well.”

Grosso said the lounge, which has hosted live acts such as Blue Rodeo, Burton Cummings and Gary U.S. Bonds since opening in the Parkdale neighbourhood, has faced some challenges in recent years.

“If you look in the crowd, probably the demographic might be people in their mid-60s, late-50s,” he said.

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“The older people come out to support the music — they love it — but getting the younger kids come out is very difficult.”

As Cadillac Lounge prepares to shut its doors, music industry expert Eric Alper told Global News the closure is a sign of the times as music venues are forced to face rising rents and real estate prices as well as changing demographics and how younger people consume music.

“What it means is that when they release that music, they’re not thinking about the old step of, ‘Well now we have to go and play live,'” Alper said.

“Now they’re just thinking about, ‘How do we promote this on social media? How do we promote this on YouTube? How do we promote this on Instagram and Spotify?'”

A number of high-profile music venues have closed down in the past several years, including Silver Dollar Room, The Hoxton and Soybomb.

“When you have a lack of places that have live music, you’re always going to feel it in ways that sometimes people don’t remember or recognize,” Alper said.

“That sense of community, seeing something collectively live that we’ll never be seen again, is probably going to be lost forever.”

A joint study between the municipal and provincial governments as well as the Canadian Live Music Association is assessing the economic impact of Toronto’s live music venues, according to Jaclyn Tam with the City’s economic development and culture department. The final report is to include recommendations on their long-term viability.

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“Live music venues drive the success of Toronto’s music scene,” wrote Tam in a statement to Global News. 

“They are vital to expanding audiences, developing artists and enriching Toronto’s culture.”

With his business set to close on Sunday, Rosso said he is ready to move on.

“I’ve got a young family and a beautiful wife,” he said.

“It’s time to ease down and celebrate the work career and it’s just time to have a slower-paced life.”

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