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COVID-19: New report shows viability of Alberta’s music industry as it looks to bounce back

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WATCH ABOVE: A new report showing the economic benefits of the music industry in Alberta has gained widespread support in the province. As Chris Chacon explains, this comes as the sector hopes to bounce back after being hit hard by the pandemic. – Oct 29, 2020

A new report showing the economic benefits of the music industry in Alberta has gained widespread support in the province. This comes as the sector hopes to bounce back after being hit hard by COVID-19.

The Starlite Room in Edmonton is just one of many live music venues hit hard by the pandemic.

“We came to a grinding halt March 12 (and) we haven’t been able to do anything really. So it’s been a lot of sleepless nights to be honest,” Starlite Room co-owner Tyson Boyd said.

READ MORE: Canadians use social media to shine light on live music industry left in dark by COVID-19

In an effort to boost support for province’s music sector, a study was conducted to better understand the industry’s economic role.

“The music sector has never had the quantifiable data to back up the significant contribution that it puts towards (it being) an economic driver,” said Carly Klassen, the executive director of Alberta Music in Edmonton.

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“The report found that in 2017, Edmonton and Calgary’s music ecosystem generated roughly $2.9 billion and provided more than 20,000 jobs in the industry.

“So now that we have those numbers, we can go after government and stakeholders – investors — and show the impact the music industry has and look at how we can change policies to make our cities these music hubs and music cities,” Klassen said.

The mayors of both cities have expressed their support for the sector in the wake of the report’s release.

“There’s tangible policy recommendations and good feedback on where we’ve made some progress and where we can go further, and we’ll look to work with all of our industry partners and not-for-profit partners and artists to make that successful,” Edmonton mayor Don Iveson said.

“We need to do a lot more to help the industry get through this incredibly difficult time,” Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

The report has led to 31 recommendations to create music-friendly policies which include late-night transit services, an all-ages option, a push for city collaboration and more.

“When we’re safely allowed to gather again, late-night transit, all-ages shows, those are going be huge points of what we’ve kind of been looking at for years and hoping for,” Boyd said. “So it’s nice to kind of hear it verbalized and coming forward.”

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With a more direct course of action, Klassen said she looks forward to both Edmonton and Calgary becoming music cities.

“COVID(-19) has hit the music industry really hard, but I think the one thing we have is the music industry is resilient,” she said.