Support for the Music Industry during COVID-19 in Canada

Support for the Music Industry during COVID-19 in Canada

For the past several weeks, numerous professions and industries worldwide have faced unprecedented levels of economic uncertainty. With all large gatherings and events postponed, the music and entertainment industries quickly felt the economic impacts of the current ongoing pandemic. Artists, performers, and musicians are without much of their income, and the entrepreneurs and companies that work alongside musicians to promote and support Canada’s music industry have been equally affected. As a response to these concerns, the Canadian government has provided information relating to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and other temporary relief measures, including the $500 million Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

With events and in-person performances cancelled, musicians have redirected their efforts to share their music online. Various musicians have moved forward in accepting paid live streaming performance spots. However, questions arose as to whether accepting these paid events might disqualify them from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

In April, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expanded the reach of CERB to include support for people who are still working but earning $1,000 or less per month. However, much of a musician’s income is driven by unexpected opportunities and royalty cheques and it can be challenging to predict average monthly earnings regardless of economic circumstances. A statement provided by the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, offered some clarity regarding royalties for artistic works, noting that there is no cap on royalty payments for works produced by artists before March 1, 2020. However, copyright protected works produced after that period would apply to the CERB guidelines.

COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations

On April 17, the Government of Canada’s announced temporary relief measures to support the culture, heritage and sport sectors as they manage the impacts of COVID-19. A total of up to $500 million has been set aside to protect jobs and support business continuity for organisations that have been negatively impacted. This emergency support fund is designed to complement the other federal government measures in response to COVID-19, including the CERB, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the Business Credit Availability Program, and the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.

In his initial announcement, Minister Guilbeault noted a number of entertainment industries that may be able to benefit, including non-profits, national sports organizations, television production houses, publishers, music associations, and media organizations. Guilbeault further stated that Heritage Canada intends to consult with the entertainment and sports industries, and that his department is already working with the Canada Council for the Arts, which has conducted its own consultations.

As of May 8, it was announced that partner organizations will be contacted so that funds from this emergency support fund can begin to flow to cultural and sport organizations. As per the Government of Canada’s news release, the distribution of funding will include:

  • Up to $326.8 million to be administered by Canadian Heritage and divided among select departmental programs and Portfolio agencies as well as key delivery organizations. Specifically:
    • $198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding via existing programs as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs;
    • $72 million will be provided to the sport sector; and
    • $53 million will be provided to the heritage sector via the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program.
  • $55 million to be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts.
  • $3.5 million will be provided for COVID-related projects under the Digital Citizen Initiative.
  • $115.8 million to support the Canadian audiovisual sector, to be distributed by the Canada Media Fund ($88.8 million) and Telefilm Canada ($27 million).

The use of the remaining funds will be assessed based on needs.

Written by Alessia Monastero, IPilogue editor and articling student at Deeth Williams Wall LLP.