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A Portrait of Quebec Song

(Un portrait de la chanson québécoise)

November 25, 201525 November 2015

Situation of artists

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Prepared for a 2013 Forum on Quebec Song, this French-language opinion piece attempts to stimulate reflection on the state of Quebec song and French-language song in particular.  Raising important questions, the article examines topics such as internationalization, technological change, touring, training, and funding. The article argues that “these days, much imagination is required to develop new sources of revenue” for singers, songwriters, and music groups.

The article briefly explores the connection between song and Quebec identity, posing the question whether Quebec songs affirm “national identity” or whether Quebec identity drives artistic expression. The article cites statistics showing that English-language song occupies an important share of the Quebec market for recorded music and live shows. Reaching international markets is an important consideration for many music acts, and a number of Quebec groups have chosen to sing in English in order to reach a larger international market.

The digital revolution has changed the market for Quebec music, with many consumers opting for digital downloads rather than physical recordings. Statistics cited in the article show that Quebec music occupies a much larger share of physical recordings (51%) than digital albums (32%) or digital songs (6%) sold in the province. The article touches on issues of copyright and the monetization of recorded works in a digital era.

The article questions whether current training frameworks are adequate to ensure that musicians understand the complexities of the music industry and to ensure that others (managers, touring managers, publishers, etc.) are able to help artists earn a living from their music.

Finally, the article examines sources of funding for Quebec music and musicians, including the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec (the Quebec arts council), the Canada Council for the Arts, the Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (Quebec’s agency for assisting cultural industries), Musicaction / Factor, and the Radio Starmaker Fund. The article asks whether Quebec song is underfunded compared with other elements of the cultural industries.

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