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Live Music Measures Up: An economic impact analysis of live music in Ontario

May 25, 201625 May 2016


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Based largely on a survey of 372 companies in Ontario’s live music sector, this report attempts to identify the impacts of live music on Ontario’s economy, employment, and communities. The report also endeavours to serve as a benchmark for the measurement of changes in the live music sector.

The 372 responding companies represent 30% of all 1,240 companies operating as artist managers, promoters, agents, music venues, and festivals in Ontario. Artists are not directly accounted for in the study, unless they are also managers (i.e., self-managed performers). The appendix to the report provides details of the methodology used for the study, which included an online survey and interviews.

Based on the survey results, the researchers estimate that “live music companies in Ontario generated $628 million in revenue from live music activities in 2013”, with the largest portion of revenues coming from ticket sales (40%). Of these ticket sales, approximately 32% was generated by Canadian artists. Live music companies made profits of $144 million in 2013, or 23% of total revenues.

The survey results provide audience or capacity statistics for music festivals, promoters, and venues. The 558 music festivals in Ontario had 13.7 million unique visitors and sold (or provided for free) a total of 15.7 million tickets. The province’s 775 promoters sold 5.4 million tickets to nearly 82,000 shows in 2013. (Some of the tickets sold by promoters were for festival events, so the total tickets for each type of provider should not be added together.) In the “616 venues offering live music performances”, there is a collective capacity of 3.6 million people.

Nearly three-quarters of audience members at music events (72%) are local, with 17% coming from other parts of Ontario, 6% from other provinces or territories, and 5% from international locations.

The expenditures of live music companies were $484 million in 2013, and their economic impact was $583 million. (The methodology used in the report includes direct impacts of companies’ spending as well as indirect impacts associated with the re-spending by suppliers of the expenditures of live music companies and induced impacts associated with the re-spending of the earnings of workers in live music companies and suppliers.) A separate estimate of the economic impact of live music related tourism is provided in the report: $609 million in 2013. The report also identifies $432 million in taxes associated with live music in 2013 (via both companies and tourism activities).

Regarding the future growth of live music companies, key opportunities include access to tax credits and other government funding as well as “the availability of local Canadian talent”. Key challenges to future growth include “the legal and regulatory environment in Canada” as well as the value of the Canadian dollar and high local operating costs.

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