Music

In Canada: Streaming Act Hearings, Québécois Marketing & Punjabi Concert History

Each week we’ll be sharing the most important news from the north with Canada’s top music industry stories, supplied by our colleagues at Billboard Canada.

For more Canadian music coverage visit ca.billboard.com.

Online Streaming Act hearings

For the last few weeks, a who’s who of stakeholders in Canadian music and media have been appearing before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) — from rights manager SOCAN to Spotify, Sirius XM and even UFC. The occasion is Bill C-11, a.k.a. the Online Streaming Act, which will update Canada’s Broadcasting Act for the first time in decades. The hearings will continue until Friday (Dec. 8).

It’s a major deal for the Canadian music business, whose system of CanCon requirements and public funds have built an industry that can compete — or at least not crumble — in a market dominated by American media to the south. This first round of hearings are focused on major streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube and potential regulations and monetary contributions they may have to make in order to continue operating in Canada.

“We hope that the CRTC will lean into this idea that it’s a once-in-a-generation regulatory process,” says Patrick Rogers, CEO of Music Canada, which represents the major label. “There are a lot of big questions: Who gets regulated? Who pays? How much? Who has access to the money? Now is when we’re going to figure it out.”

A worry among many is that too much financial regulation of big American tech companies could cause them to scale back their investment in Canada. Something similar recently happened with Bill C-18, in which Meta chose to block all Canadian news rather than pay for it. In Spotify’s hearing, company executives — who have an office in Toronto — said that compelled spending could affect their existing Canadian investments.

“The objective here should be: how do we build a stable, viable, resilient, equitable, middle class of artists and thriving Canadian-owned businesses and the music space that can compete globally?” says Andrew Cash, president and CEO of the Canadian Independent Music Association. READ MORE

How Quebec markets its music to the world

M for Montreal festival took place from Nov. 15-18, bringing Canadian and international visibility to Quebec music and artists. That’s an important objective in Quebec, where francophone music is marketed as much to France and globally as to the rest of Canada, which is divided by language.

According to the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles québécoises (SODEC), one of the festival’s main financial partners, M for Montreal is a significant market. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity to check the interest of foreign professionals in very particular artistic proposals whose potential is not yet known internationally,” says Élaine Dumont, general director of international affairs, exportation and marketing of Cinema at SODEC.

For her, events like M for Montreal are a fantastic way to gauge interest in Quebec musicians. “They are at home with their audience, so they can give the best of themselves, and that is precious,” says Élaine Dumont.

Similarly, SODEC supports collective presence, which means making sure Quebec artists and music industry professionals are represented at festivals worldwide. “We collaborate with M for Montreal, Mundial Montreal, FME, POP Montreal, for example, so that they send professionals internationally,” she adds. Thus, M for Montreal participates in events such as South by Southwest in Texas, Reeperbahn Festival in Germany, The New Colossus in New York and The Great Escape Festival in England.

“The festival has a good network in France, Germany, the UK, the US, and the rest of Canada,” notes programmer Mathieu Aubre. And because the French market is not approached like that of Francophone Africa, for example, SODEC, with an annual budget of over $4 million for the export of Quebec music, also offers specific support to territories. “We distribute various aids that allow us to take risks, support artists’ careers and develop audiences outside Quebec and internationally,” says Dumont. READ MORE

Diljit Dosanjh to play the biggest Punjabi concert outside of India

Diljit Dosanjh is set to make history next year with a just-announced performance at Vancouver’s BC Place on April 27, 2024 — the country’s first-ever Punjabi stadium show. With a capacity of 54,500, it’s expected to be the largest ever Punjabi music performance outside of India.

The BC Place announcement caps off a banner year for Dosanjh. This summer, he became the first artist to perform a fully Punjabi set at Coachella and in September, he released his latest album, Ghost, blends smooth R&B, moody trap and laid-back pop. The album spent seven weeks on Billboard’s Canadian Albums chart, peaking at No. 5. His collaboration with Sia, “Hass Hass,” also went to No. 37 on the Canadian Hot 100.

Speaking to Billboard Canada for a cover story about the popularity of Punjabi music in Canada, talent buyer Baldeep Randhawa recalled taking a job at Live Nation with a goal of supporting South Asian music. At the time, he hinted at big things to come with Dosanjh and said he had already shown there’s a major market for Punjabi music in Canada.

“I told them I was gonna prove the concept, book a 500 cap[acity] room and eventually go bigger,” Randhawa said.

When only a couple of months later, Live Nation booked Dosanjh, Randhawa learned he could skip right over the 500 capacity rooms and book arenas. Dosanjh performed at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, then a sold-out show at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena — which has a capacity of 18,000 — in June 2022.

Dosanjh is a superstar, but he’s not the only Punjabi artist making waves in Canada. Dosanjh collaborator Ikky recently announced a headline tour visiting five Canadian provinces in February 2024. READ MORE

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