Report puts spotlight on Alberta’s struggling music industry

CALGARY — A new report studying Alberta’s music ecosystem puts a spotlight on the now struggling industry.

In the report, titled The Music Ecosystem Study, a collective of Alberta creatives have captured what West Anthem’s Andrew Mosker is calling, “The first fulsome study of Alberta’s diverse music industry.”

“The music industry in this province pre-COVID employed about 22,000 people and also had revenues of over $2 billon a year,” said Mosker. “Nobody knew that data prior to doing this report.”

The report was commissioned by international consulting firm Sound Diplomacy and is intended to capture the breadth of Alberta’s music industry.

According to the study, the music sector generated and supported 21,261 jobs in Alberta — including 7,107 in Edmonton and 8,435 in Calgary — accounting for for $2.1 billion of the province’s GDP in 2017.

Mosker says although Alberta is well known for having fantastic festivals and talented musicians, “We didn’t really have a sense of what some of the areas of strength and weaknesses are that this report highlights.”

It is West Anthem’s hope the findings can be used to develop recommendations on how to make the music industry sector of our economy stronger as the province moves forward.

In a pre-recoded video played at the event, Minister of Culture Leela Aheer said, “Now is the perfect time for West Anthem’s report on the music industry in Alberta. It is providing valuable insight so we can all sing from the same song sheet as we grow and strengthen Alberta’s music sector.”

Local musician Jay Coda Walker set the mood for the report’s release at the well-known Inglewood music hub, The Blues Can.

“It really refreshing to see how important it actually is to people and that they do remember that music and the industry is very important to all of us,” he said.

Walker told CTV News interview he, like many musicians, took a huge hit over the last months because of restrictions put in place due to the ongoing pandemic. “It was rather terrifying immediately to be unemployed,” he said.

Walker played music full-time and often in a live setting and says he is hopeful for the future.

“Slowly as the rules have changed and as everyone has tried to be diligent about safety, I’ve been able to get back into the industry and continue being employed,” he said.

Playing for the audience from behind a Plexiglas door is definitely different.

“It is a bit of a removal but I will take everything I can get and I still enjoy being back, but I sure look forward to the days when I can interact with an audience again,” he said.

The full report is available online.

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