If you’ve been a part of the Canadian music scene for awhile, you’ve likely heard of CIMA. The Canadian Independent Music Association, in one form or another, has been around for more than 40 years, serving the interests of the Canadian indie music sector (focusing on English-language, Canadian-owned music companies). There was a time when this meant only record labels (In fact, in an earlier incarnation, CIMA was called CIRPA, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association.) Since then, it has expanded to include publishers and management companies.

CIMA also owns and operates MusicOntario, its non-profit, membership-based division, whose mission is to provide professional development, industry education, information and support to the music industry of Ontario, particularly emerging artists.

If you’re showcasing internationally, you may want to join CIMA for the best access to many opportunities.

Through their programs and services, CIMA and MusicOntario strive to inform, educate and communicate; provide domestic and international business opportunities; facilitate performance opportunities; and develop networking opportunities to nurture, develop and promote the growth and sustainability of the Canadian- and Ontario-based music industry and its emerging artists.

These artists clearly identify as artists first and foremost – songwriters, performers, personalities and maybe even as brands. But they’re also entrepreneurs looking for revenue sources, marketing ideas and export opportunities. CIMA serves the needs of such music entrepreneurs.

First and foremost, CIMA advocates for public/government programs and policies that favour the industry – individual artists as well as labels, publishers, managers and more. CIMA researches trends, issues and opportunities, domestically and internationally. In addition, its Music Export Canada service, commonly known as Canadian Blast, places a very effective and powerful tool at the disposal of the Canadian music industry. It’s the business development brand under which CIMA promotes Canadian independent music in the U.S., U.K., Europe, South Asia and other emerging markets.

Using the basic premise of collective marketing, the Canadian Blast – in which SOCAN is a partner – generates global, collective, multi-faceted marketing opportunities which individual companies and artists would be unable to undertake on their own. In other words, they create an umbrella Canadian presence at key markets, notably MIDEM, and festivals including SXSW, The Great Escape, CMJ, Jazz Ahead – everywhere the industry tells CIMA they need to be. Individual companies participate and CIMA promotes the individual and collective activities of the group, supporting those efforts with a team comprised of various showcase producers, publicists, one-on-one meeting consultants, marketing experts and social media campaigns.

Last year, Canadian Blast participants reported millions of dollars in potential deals for licensing, publishing, touring and distribution – great returns on an investment which is itself greatly reduced by cost-effective collective marketing.

For the year ahead, CIMA has plans to stage projects ranging from small two-artist showcases for music supervisors in L.A. to full market trade-show, networking, promotion and publicity at MIDEM. Last year, CIMA organized 22 export missions in 19 cities and 10 countries around the world.

If you’re showcasing internationally, you may want to join CIMA for the best access to many opportunities. If you have a label or manager, ask if they’re CIMA members, and if they’re considering Canadian Blast promotional activities. However, participation is not limited to members. If you’re interested in exploring international markets and would like to participate in a Canadian Blast project, visit cimamusic.ca or call the office at (416) 485-3152. CIMA staff is always happy to talk a little business.


  1. John van der poel says:

    Hopefully you can help me.
    I am a part time entertainer living in Calgary and plan to do some paid gigs in December and part of January in Arizona.
    Do I need a work permit and what kind of income tax implications would this have?
    How do other entertainers handle this?
    Would you be able to provide some answers or suggest or someone that is doing something like this already.
    Thanking you in advance for any assistance you may be able to provide.
    Regards,
    John

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  • Always be honest with yourself about your feelings. I think that makes the best songs, because people want to hear things that are real.
  • In writing sessions, a lot of people don’t share their ideas because they don’t think they’re good enough yet. Always put everything on the table, because even if you don’t think the idea is there yet, someone can help you get it there.
  • I heard this in a movie – Country Strong – where one of the characters says something like, “Don’t be possessive about your publishing. A good song is a good song whether you write it or not.”

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  • “The central challenge is nailing the emotion the director wants. What you do has to mesh with their story. That’s the craft.”
  • “There’s a much greater technical aspect than there used to be [in film composition]. If you don’t understand or don’t enjoy tech, you’re in trouble.
  • “You’ve got to keep working. If I had turned down MOWs because I only wanted to work on Canadian independent films, I might not have gotten District 9.”

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