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Are They Good? or Just Canadian?
In Canada it is dictated by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (more commonly known as the CRTC) that commercial radio stations must play a minimum of 35% Canadian Content each week. This is to support artists in Canada by giving them a chance to be heard on radio that would likely be dominated by music coming from the U.S. and England if this Commission didn’t exist.
Now I’m all for supporting artists in Canada when the artist has something worth supporting, but the Canadian music industry unfortunately only puts money behind artists that have the chance to be superstars. Canadian music has an extraordinary number of international high-selling artists like Celine Dion, Shania Twain, Justin Bieber, Drake, Nickelback, Rush, Neil Young, The Guess Who etc. however when it comes to artists with less appeal to the masses on radio, they start to fall short of quality (that’s not to give any credit to Drake, Justin Bieber or Nickelback for becoming international successes by any means).
Why is this? In my mind, the big labels in Canada are most likely given a small percentage of a global budget for signing Canadian talent and in order for them to make their biggest gain on their investments, they only look for artists with Pop dollar signs written all over their faces. So, the big labels have taken to the strategy of signing short-lived artists that can make a quick dollar and then the label can back out and look for the next big money maker. The old strategy of giving an artist a three album deal to iron out their career and develop their sound/fan-base has disappeared therefore leaving Canadian music to be tasteless and short-lived.
The mid-level labels however must be signing Canadian bands, in fact it seems like their signing them daily. The radio airwaves are crowded with Canadian talent and the stations’ countdowns are congested with Canadian songs. These mid-level labels are signing Canadian artists because they know that by law they will be heard. The CRTC dictates 35% Canadian content, so radio must play Canadian artists by law. The problem with this is, for the most part these artists crowding the airwaves because of the CRTC are shit. It’s makes me ask the question over and over again after hearing these acts on the air, are they good? or just Canadian?
The only way this is being contested is by the small labels. Small labels believe in developing an artist and allowing them a chance to grow. This is where you’ll find your true Canadian indie artists The unfortunate thing about this is, these artists very seldom make it to radio so they never get a chance, even with the CRTC, to showcase their material.
So, next time you hear an artist on the radio that makes you think they don’t quite belong there, ask yourself the question are they good? or just Canadian?