All our members affected by the cancellation of their tours, shows, and festivals appearances should bear in mind the existence of the Unison Benevolent Fund, a non-profit organization that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community. Unison is there to help you during financial or psychological hardships.

Professionals in the music industry have access to very few services during a crisis like the one we’re experiencing now, or simply during a time of financial or health crisis. They can easily find themselves unprepared to deal with the financial and emotional burdens of an unforeseen emergency or illness, such as COVID-19. That’s why the Unison Benevolent Fund offers financial assistance programs, counselling services, and healthcare solutions created and administered by the music community, for the music community.

SOCAN’s Chief of Québec Affairs and Visual Arts, Geneviève Côté, reminds us of the importance of initiatives such as tUnison, and how it is important that we support them during crises such as this one:

“We’re going through challenging times for the freelancers who are a majority of our members, as well as for the entrepreneurs that are our publisher members,” says Côté. “Concert cancellations, that have become necessary to flatten the curve, put many members of the ecosystem at risk, financially as well as mental health-wise. Unison is there for all the members of the ecosystem, whether they’re musicians, sound technicians, publicists, promoters, agents, managers, bookers… It’s efficient and it’s confidential. And those of us who are fortunate enough to have a salaried position should remember to make a donation. Every dollar matters.”

The Unison Benevolent Fund also offers insurance programs adapted to your needs. Visit Unison’s website to find out about all of the precious resources it has to offer.

If you’re a Canadian musician or music industry professional need help immediately because of the COVID-19 crisis, call the emergency helpline at 1-855-986-4766.

To register with Unison, click here!
To find out more about the financial assistance program, click here!
To find out more about the counselling and healthcare solutions, click here!
To make a donation to Unison, click here!

Above all, stay safe, and take good care of yourself.

Canadian musicians, music industry professionals, and music organizations are quickly reacting to the COVID-19 situation in the first few days of widespread “lockdown” throughout the country.

With most tours and live performances cancelled, SOCAN members are already creatively adapting to the situation. Here are just a few examples:

  • Arkells’s Max Kerman and other members of the band are offering free guitar/song lessons online via Instagram live every day at 1:00 p.m. ET.
  • Dan Mangan video-recorded a recent scheduled show at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall with no audience, then started streaming it free on YouTube on March 16.
  • David Myles suggested on Twitter that CBC Music play only Canadian content for the next two months to offset the losses of musicians now temporarily unable to tour.
  • Julian Taylor has started offering a twice-monthly live song and “story behind the song” performance series for a modest $3 monthly subscription.
  • Choir! Choir! Choir! are presenting a “Choir!ntine” event on Facebook Live tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET, billed as “An Epic Distan-Sing-Along.” The tagline reads, “If we all have to be alone… we may as well sing together.”
    Click to see musician activity in Québec.
    CBC Music has posted an ongoing list of online music performances.

The music industry is working hard to help its own, too. A few instances:

  • SaskMusic, a non-profit representing Saskatchewan musicians and music industry workers, has announced an emergency relief fund to help offset income loss due to COVID-19, and called for private donations as well.
  • Hamilton patron of the arts Ellen Davidson has started a CONTRIBUTE 2 The RENT campaign to help out indie musicians in Hamilton with their rent payments.
  • Popular and extremely artist-friendly Toronto music venue 120 Diner has started a GoFundMe page to help offset ongoing expenses while its doors are closed.
  • CIMA is conducting a survey of the Canadian music industry to measure the impact of COVID-19.
  • The Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec has created downloadable emergency aid applications for both artists and organizations in Québec.
  • The government of Québec has created a program offering financial assistance to meet the needs of workers who, because they are in isolation to counter the propagation of the COVID-19 virus, cannot earn all of their work income and are not eligible for another financial assistance program.
  • SODEC has announced  various measures to deal with the COVID-19 situation, including advance payments of grants under certain regular programs; payments for cancelled events; and postponement of repayments of loans that they’ve financed.

Online pages of ongoing information and strategies for Canadian music industry people who’ve “lost a gig” or work in live performance sectors have been created as well.

More to come as we see how the Canadian music ecosystem continues to adapt.

Take care and stay safe!

Venues in Québec and all over Canada have been forced to wind down their activities involving audiences, following the instructions of various levels of government aiming to reduce large gatherings of people. Those instructions, while perfectly logical in the circumstances, do nonetheless leave music lovers jonesing for their weekly live show, and the artists unable to reach their audiences and deprived of the ticket-sale revenues until further notice.

But in the meantime, many Québec artists have already started using social networks to broadcast their live performances directly to their homebound fans. Several singer songwriters have already spontaneously broadcast their music: Kevin Parent streamed live from his home; Mehdi Cayenne joined a livestream of Franco-Ontarian artists while inviting people to make voluntary contributions; Clay & Friends played from a street in Lyon, France while they wait to come back home; Cindy Bédard broadcast the launch of her third album on Facebook Live, surrounded by her family and friends; Lendemain de veiille’s Marc-André Rioux played live from his basement on Sunday night; Stéphan Côté and Roxane Filion sang together live from their lobby; Florence K broadcast a touching family performance during which her sisters and her sang a song for their grandmother through the door of her nursing home; and Caracol, Seba of Seba & Horg, and Karlof Galovsky have all announced their intentions of live casting their music in the coming days.

L-AbeIn parallel, Louis-Armand Bombardier, who heads the label L-Abe and owns Montréal’s Le Ministère venue, is developing a live show capture and broadcast from Le Ministère using a skeleton technical crew and extra sanitary measures. Le Ministère, it must be noted, is already equipped with a full broadcast centre with several cameras, so it’s webcast-ready.

“We’re fully ready to broadcast, and the programming is being developed as we speak,” Bombardier told Paroles & Musique. “We’re reaching out to the whole community to enlist the help and subsidies of sponsors and artists. The response has been great! We shut down on Friday March 13, abiut 24 hours before the government made its recommendation, and even though we’re smaller than 250 capacity; we figured it was irresponsible to risk it. But with a small crew, and group of artists limited to 10 or 12 people, and extra sanitary measures, we’re totally comfortable going ahead with this project.” For now, Le Ministère will stream shows recorded over the last few years before potentially moving forward with live recordings.

The music ecosystem is demonstrating its creativity and solidarity in the face of this pandemic and economic turmoil. And that’s reassuring and entertaining for everyone!