West Anthem Music Ecosystem Study

Date: Nov 10, 2020

The purpose of the West Anthem Music Ecosystem Report is to initiate a conversation regarding the potential of fostering the development of music cities in Alberta and to highlight how music could be a catalyst for economic growth in Calgary, Edmonton and, ultimately, across the province. From this report comes a number of recommendations to help further the case for music cities in our province, one of them being the development of this study. 

The music sector in Calgary and Edmonton is extensive, making significant contributions to the social and economic fabric of each city, their metro regions, and the province as a whole. There is extensive funding and advocacy opportunities for music creators, and quality educational offerings and music facilities via universities, such as the music program at MacEwan University, the National Music Centre, and the Winspear Centre. In these areas, there are over 1,500 music assets, and a rich variety of music festivals catering to all genres. However, Alberta’s music ecosystem lacks the music-friendly policies and government supports found in other cities. It also faces challenges reaching audiences such as young fans who are under 18, or individuals living outside of downtown cores.

As a result, the report provides recommendations for policymakers and industry leaders in nine key areas:

  • Governance and Leadership: Recommendations include implementing late-night transit programs and creating routine all-ages events and venues.
  • Diversity and Equity: The industry would benefit from greater opportunities for LGBTQ2+ artists, and from working with other marginalized groups to identify their specific music needs.
  • Audience Development: Festival events and dates should be more strategically coordinated, with increased engagement during, and leading up to, events.
  • Music Education: Establishment of music therapy and musical scoring programming in the province, paired with the integration of Indigenous music into educational programming, would further benefit the industry.
  • Artist and Music Industry Development: Artists and industry professionals require greater access to resources and professional development opportunities, such as entrepreneurship programming.
  • Spaces and Places: Recommendations include utilizing empty buildings for the arts through special permitting and incentives for creating music spaces, particularly outside the downtown cores.
  • Tourism and Reputation as a “Music Place”: Recommendations include but are not limited to producing a province-wide playlist, offsetting booking costs for international acts, and expanding genre promotion. 
  • Night-Time Economy: After-hours venue permits and establishing a nighttime operations office and advisory board could help spur late-night music activity.
  • Music Export: To be recognized internationally, Alberta must engage stakeholders internationally through hosting and attending fairs and supporting artists in getting export ready.

For the full music ecosystem report, including industry mapping, key findings, and recommendations, please visit: http://www.westanthem.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/West-Anthem_-Final-Report-Music-Ecosystem-Study10_28_2020v2.pdf 

West Anthem Music Ecosystem Study was produced by Sound Diplomacy and commissioned by a group of civic and provincial partners led by National Music Centre, Winspear Centre, Calgary Arts Development, Tourism Calgary, Calgary Economic Development, Edmonton Arts Council, Explore Edmonton Corporation, Government of Alberta, OCL Studios, Scotlyn Foundation, Alberta Music, Tooth Blackner Presents, and Oilers Entertainment Group. Drawing from extensive research, stakeholder feedback, and global best practices, West Anthem’s music ecosystem study provides a strategic framework to engage provincial and municipal policymakers, industry stakeholders, and audiences in both Calgary and Edmonton. 

About West Anthem

Recognizing the untapped economic benefits of the music industry in our province, and through the report, Fertile Ground, which was commissioned, funded and published by the National Music Centre and the Scotlyn Foundation in 2014, West Anthem was established to help stimulate the growth and sustainability of Alberta’s music industry. Its objectives are to develop a comprehensive understanding of the economic profile of Alberta’s music cluster, to build the business capacity of the music industry, to utilize Alberta’s music industry as a key economic driver and a vehicle for diversification, and to establish and implement a live music strategy for Alberta through venue mapping and audience profiling. For more information, please visit westanthem.com.

About Sound Diplomacy

Sound Diplomacy defined the ‘music cities model’, which uses music and culture in a deliberate and intentional way to deliver economic, social, and cultural growth in cities and places. Sound Diplomacy is a global leading team of researchers, data analysts, economists and strategic consultants, with extensive expertise in the music industry, music economics, cultural planning and placemaking. For more information, please visit sounddiplomacy.com.