I’m hoping that this blog can eventually help share the activities of the Toronto Music Advisory Committee (TMAC) and also the related work of the City of Toronto Music Office, led by Mike Tanner.

I’m really proud of what TMAC has been able to accomplish. Although solely an advisory body, TMAC’s recommendations seem to be able to create political will and lead to positive change. A very concrete example is the $1.7m in tax relief for music venues announced in August. While the measure hasn’t stopped venues from closing, it is almost certain to a) make it easier for some to survive, and b) make it more likely that music venues can open and re-open when the pandemic subsides.

I’d also like to share the Toronto Music Office’s incredible year-end wrap up. The Music Office does so much that it’s hard to capture – but this summary they have provided includes resources, updates, announcements and so much more – it’s necessary reading for anyone looking for opportunities or help in music right now, or anyone interested in the future of music in the City of Toronto:

The Music Office 2020 Wrap-up

Hello from the City of Toronto’s Music Office. As this difficult year draws to a close, we wanted to pass along a wrap-up of 2020 news, updates and City Hall-related happenings that affect Toronto’s music community. Please feel free to forward this to others you think may be interested – and have a safe holiday season.

What we do


The City of Toronto’s Music Office (a unit of Film & Entertainment Industries, Economic Development and Culture) exists to nurture the city’s music community. The Music Office represents the interests of Toronto’s musicians and music businesses at City Hall, while supporting the industry through policy, recommendations, and advocacy, and artists through performance opportunities via the City Hall Live, Music 311, and YYZ Live programs.

The Music Office has some helpful information at toronto.ca/music. Access different directories and resources for all your industry needs: 

  • The Music Industry Directory lists info on agents and managers, live music support, music organizations, promoters, or record labels.
  • The Toronto Music Directory is an interactive map and searchable catalogue of local music industry services, retailers, supporting organizations and venues. 
  • The Toronto Musician Directory is a database of almost 1000 Toronto artists covering many genres and styles of music. The Directory is a great way to support local talent and is very easy to use. Search by artist name or genre, then contact artists directly to discuss booking. 
  • A list of music-related grants and funds administered by public and private organizations.
  • tactical guide to getting your event sponsored.
  • Looking for more paid music performance opportunities? Apply here

Directories and resources will be updated regularly.

See something missing? Have an idea?   Email music@toronto.ca.

2020 Updates from the Music Office: 

Property tax relief for live music venues  

In 2020, as a response to the catastrophic effect of the pandemic on live music venues, the City of Toronto expanded the pre-existing “Creative Co-location Facilities Property Tax Class.” Applications from live venues were accepted during June, and 48 live music venues were deemed eligible for a 2020 reduction of 50% of their municipal property tax. In October, City Council voted to make this program permanent, to help support Toronto’s live music industry in the face of ongoing pressures.

TMAC Update

What is the Toronto Music Advisory Committee (TMAC)? 
TMAC is a volunteer body of music community members with a vested interest in Toronto music. Functioning as an advisory to the City on music-related matters, TMAC meets publicly four times each year to exchange ideas and make formal recommendations to help address challenges and opportunities in sustaining and growing music in Toronto. The current TMAC member list and official meeting minutes can be found here.

In 2020, TMAC has helped spearhead a number of important City of Toronto initiatives, including:

·         supporting live music venues through property tax relief

·         aligning the City’s COVID-19 response needs with those in the music sector

·         advocating with the provincial and federal governments for long-term financial support for live music, a ban on commercial evictions during the pandemic, and more options for commercial insurance for venues

·         exploring the use of City-owned space for DIY music activations

TMAC also continues to play a key role in ensuring the City of Toronto is well informed about how the pandemic is affecting musicians and different parts of the music community.

TMAC meetings are open to the public. See the upcoming meeting schedule here.

Re:Venues: A Case and Path Forward for Toronto’s Live Music Industryhttps://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Il4B-z4bg4OEoQsj1lQJbWVdBiOVsRTGCH_vODjtm7ZmiBw3AR_1NVejonggM8eCCIqVEwItzyaimO-QMWL7YVyoREBUY1mEcXTPKNKOyeedQqqLx86srPG_zK0oVwqL6z-p3oXU

·         A new study measuring the economic and cultural impact of Toronto’s live music venues was released in October 2020 by the City of Toronto and the Canadian Live Music Association, in partnership with Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area and Ontario Creates.

·         The long-awaited study entitled Re:Venues: A Case and Path Forward for Toronto’s Live Music Industry, outlines the contributions and status of the industry and includes recommendations for actions needed to support and protect live music venues through this economic uncertainty and beyond.

·         Conducted by Nordicity, the study finds that live music venues in Toronto generate a total economic impact of $850 million annually, while providing the equivalent of 10,500 full-time jobs.

·          Read the report here.

#Lights-On Reopening Guide

·         #LightsOn, a safe venue reopening guide was released in November. The guide is a collaboration between the City of Toronto, Ryerson University, Toronto Association for the Performing Arts (TAPA), Toronto Arts Council, TO Live, and the Event Safety Alliance. It will be updated as conditions and science evolve with the intention to help the community prepare to reopen as safely as possible.

Music Office Programming

  • ShowLoveTO is a City initiative that encourages local residents to show their love for Toronto by safely connecting with neighbours, supporting local businesses and artists, and exploring their city neighbourhoods to help rebuild the social and economic fabric of Toronto. Initiatives will be delivered with guidance from Toronto Public Health to provide a safer environment for participants. 
  • MusicTO will be one of the ShowLoveTO initiatives that provides safe and accessible music related experiences featuring Toronto musicians, venues and music-related businesses. Soundtracks of the City (details below) alongside a 2.0 version of City Hall Live Online will be the first two offerings.  The new virtual series, City Hall Live Spotlight, will feature weekly live streamed concerts of Toronto musicians performing at shuttered music venues around the city, along with a handful of other music-related businesses (recording studios, rehearsal spaces, instrument stores tbd). The goal is to ‘spotlight’ not just artists but venues and other parts of the live ecosystem that have been catastrophically affected by the pandemic. The series will run from January-May 2021.  More details on the line-up will be released in January.

Toronto Playlists

Explore the City’s sound on the Toronto Music Office’s Spotify playlists.  

·         Soundtracks of the City is a new series of playlists featuring Toronto artists. 25 different playlists were created to encourage Torontonians to discover local bands while exploring the City’s neighborhoods (one for each ward).https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/b1HgrlyZzT7KmCk5MOsA5QJxaB6y4Hy1zdISLRHupgDm9C8vEIQhb_802m0ee_UYeHPz10o67NXTjKO3NiQxkHvDB0Sw8nTMGB2FQ0lOrF_kaDLQoZe5Ier0Wavs4FcyRyCkHVrhFrom global superstars to local favourites and ones to watch, the Soundtracks of the City playlists all feature artists who have called Toronto home. Whether it’s a lyric about the neighborhood, or an artist representing a cultural community, all the music reflects connections to an individual ward or the City as a whole.

Interested in being featured?  Email music@toronto.ca.

Music Industry Resources

Career Development:

·         This is a fantastic list of info compiled by our friends at the Unison Benevolent Fund that features several Job Boards, Online Learning/Training Tools, Online Work Tools, Remote/Temporary Job Opportunities, grants and funding.

Mental Health Support:

·         The Unison Benevolent Fund offers a toll-free number to connect Canadian music professionals with resources and support for personal and practical issues. This service is free, anonymous, confidential and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Industry Community Groups:

·          I lost my gig facebook group is a space for freelance and gig workers in Canada and beyond to share stories and resources addressing the impacts of COVID-19.  

·          Toronto Women and Gender Non-Conforming music community aims to foster an environment to provide resources, have conversations, facilitate connection, education, inspiration, & support across all areas of interest relating to music artistry and industry.

Music Rights Organizations and What They Do

·         MROC : The Musicians’ Rights Organization Canada is a Canadian federally incorporated not-for-profit organization whose primary objective is to collect and distribute royalties to musicians and vocalists. 

·         SOCAN: represents the performing rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers

·         CMRRA: represents the reproduction rights of music publishers

·         SODRAC: represents the reproduction rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers

·         Connect Music Licensing: represents the performing right in sound recordings for their owners (formerly AVLA)

·         SOPROQ: represents the performing right in sound recordings for their owners

·         Re:Sound: licenses music users and distributes revenue it collects to MROC and other performers’ performing right collectives as well as to Connect and to SOPROQ.

Newsletters to sign up for to receive current industry info:

  • CultureTO is a weekly newsletter that focuses on available resources and supports to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Toronto’s culture sector. Click here to subscribe
  • Want to know what funding is available through the Ontario Arts Council? Sign up here for their newsletter.
  • Receive the latest news and current issues facing the arts in Toronto. Subscribe to receive up to date announcements and the TAC Newsletter.
  • Written for and about Canada’s music and music industry, FYI Music News is a digest of key events and news 5 days a week.

Upcoming grant application deadlines

City Funding:

  • The ShowLoveTO Partner Grant Program is a partnership program designed to amplify, showcase and provide additional support to community organizations who are producing activations across Toronto. The grant applications are due December 11 at 5 p.m
  • December 14 deadline Animating Toronto Parks
  • The Ontario government is accepting applications from eligible businesses for the Main Street Relief Grant and temporary property tax and energy cost rebates through a single, online application portal. The Main Street Relief Grant is available to small businesses with two to nine employees in targeted sectors to help cover personal protective equipment costs.

Other funding:

·         FYI Music News regularly puts together a comprehensive calendar of grant and funding deadlines

Financial Support and ResourcesFederal, provincial and municipal government financial supports for IndividualsUnison Benevolent Fund Relief ProgramCanada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)Enhanced Employment Insurance (EI)CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) has now ended and been replaced with the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) $500/week income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.Federal, provincial and municipal government financial supports for BusinessesCanada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) programCanada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) programCanada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)Support for Indigenous BusinessesBusiness Credit Availability Program Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) For one-on-one help with applications for any of these programs contact the BusinessTO Support Centre.

Digital Support and Resources

  • Digital Main Street: Provides support for businesses interested in adopting technologies to help their businesses. This applies to self-employed musicians too!
  • ShopHERE powered by Google: Help with setting up and launching an online store quickly, easily and at no cost (with expanded eligibility criteria).
  • Digital Transformation Grant: $2,500 grants available to businesses to help implement new technologies. 

See something missing? Have an idea?   Email music@toronto.ca.

Holiday Special

Although many holiday traditions are postponed till next year, there is still one special event that’s a must-see. Canada’s beloved artist community will come together with the Unison Benevolent Fund – an assistance program that provides discreet relief to music industry professionals in times of crisis – to host Canada In Unison Holiday Special: In Concert – a virtual concert celebration in support of the Canadian music and entertainment industry on Sessions LiveThursday, December 17th beginning at 8:00 pm ET.

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