Music Canada Live Concerned Over Lame Loonie's Impact On Live Music Biz

Thank you for the recent article in FYI Music News about the impact of the low Canadian dollar. We appreciate you bringing awareness to this important issue and for the opportunity to respond.

While Canadians are poised to enjoy a great summer of music from some very big names as concerts and festivals are being announced, this flurry of activity shouldn’t be seen as an indication that all is well in live music as the dollar continues its precipitous slide. 

Many of the tours cited in the article took months to plan and execute, with offers being submitted when far more reasonable exchange rates prevailed. Now, as the US dollar races towards $1.50 in Canadian funds, something has to give if Canadian promoters’ offers are going to compete with a newly buoyant US concert economy. The question inside promoters’ offices has now become – how much higher can ticket prices climb? With prices already causing sticker shock, the solution to the exchange rate problem is unlikely to be found in fans’ wallets. 

Unless there is some relief for the exchange rate, the concert industry in Canada is going to experience some severe cooling and that’s very bad news for everyone involved. With the economic impact of live music proving to be even greater than previously imagined ($1.2B in Ontario alone according to a recently released study), there are jobs on the line.  Without any means of countering the currency crisis it becomes increasingly difficult to attract major international talent to drive attendance. The result is that some less resilient festivals could be dealt fatal blows and in many other cases tours simply won’t cross the border. The Guardian in PEI is reporting the cancellation of one Maritime festival and concerns from others. (Concert crisis: Charlottetown concert promoter Mark Fisher says the slumping Canadian dollar is making it challenging to put together a two-day concert at the city's events grounds for the 2016 Canada Day weekend).

When Canadian promoters and presenters are feeling the financial pinch domestic artists can be negatively impacted too: while some may enjoy a better slot on the festival billing, others will lose out on support slots that never materialize or be the casualty of reduced talent budgets. What’s needed in order to protect the sector and our community is government partnership to support the ongoing growth and health of the live music sector so that we can weather this storm and Canada can continue to harness the economic, cultural and social benefits of live music.

Music Canada Live is currently analyzing the options - we have requested a meeting with the Ministers of Heritage and are in the process of requesting one from the Minister of Int'l Trade as well to discuss the challenges facing the industry and how we might work with the government to address them. We are also working with our membership as a whole to understand individual immediate and longer-term impacts. 

Erin Benjamin 

Executive Director, Music Canada Live



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