This opinion piece written by SOCAN CEO Eric Baptiste, was uploaded to La Presse tablet and website on Apr. 3, 2020.

SOCAN, CEO, Eric BaptisteIn trying times, more than ever, music matters.

Canada, with most of the rest of the world, is stepping up to deal with the COVID-19 situation.

Music might not be the first thing on the minds of concerned Canadians, but, as it often does, music will play an essential background role in helping us to cope.

The millions of citizens now working from home can soothe any anxieties with music. Whether streamed, downloaded, over the airwaves or even on vinyl, our personal playlists will be a soundtrack for the situation.

One of the greatest things about Canada is that our country is a respectful, open, and welcoming one. We should never forget that. It makes us very special, but this is a time to rally around community and country. Paradoxically, by being told to stay apart we will actually get closer together, as we become united in the common goal of vanquishing this virus. And music bridges us through these troubled times.

As Canadians, we identify with and rally around the arts. Made-in-Canada music will be more important than ever to foster the pride of our people. When we hear the uplifting songs of Drake, Gordon Lightfoot, Marie-Mai, The Weeknd, Luc Plamondon, Joni Mitchell, Hubert Lenoir, Shawn Mendes, or Grimes, to name only a few, or the glorious compositions and scores of Mychael Danna, Leslie Barber, Alexandra Stréliski, or Keith Power, our hearts surge with common joy and pride.

Canada’s music brings Canada’s people together, truer and stronger.

Citizens will gather around the CBC or Radio Canada or other media to receive their reliable news. Canada turns to them, and so, too, should radio and television turn to made-in-Canada content to bind us even tighter as a country.

Our live music might go on hiatus as we avoid crowds, but eventually we will return to joyful and powerfully emotional concerts. We will rally together, and music will certainly continue to help us to heal, just as it did after the SARS crisis, and always has in times of need.

While many of Canada’s music makers will miss the revenues from paying gigs, we can perhaps help them to replace lost funds by playing their music even more. At home. On radio. On streaming services. In the car. Wherever you need music to help you through the times. Our benefitting from their music should be of benefit to them, too. They’re helping you, so it’s only right that all of us, in our small ways, help them in return.

Music might not be the first thing we think of in these troubling times, but it is certainly one of the most powerful tools we have to help us through this crisis. Our music creators will inevitably reach deep into their souls to capture the muse that emerges when emotions are raw, and answers are few.

History shows us that the creative arts perhaps counter-intuitively thrive in times of trouble. Through the harrows or wartime, new art almost always emerges in new and surprising ways. I fully hope, and even expect, that Canada’s music creators will find their muse even more than usual to express themselves through their work.

Canadian music holds value, bearing a gift beyond price. To Canadians, but increasingly, to everyone around the world

Put music on. Keep it on. And let’s keep on keeping on.

Eric Baptiste is CEO of SOCAN, the largest organization in the Canadian music ecosystem. SOCAN represents the rights of nearly 170,000 songwriters, composers, music publishers and visual artists.