Report out of Canadian province Manitoba proves music is a worthy investment for any government

Winnipeg Folk Festival Main Stage - Photo: Joey Senft

Last Month, Canadian province Manitoba’s not-for-profit industry association Manitoba Music, who develop and promote the growth and sustainability of the Manitoba music industry, released a report analysing the music industry’s economy impact in the province. In it, among many other key figures, is one that sticks out: The music industry in Manitoba generated $4.12 for every $1 invested by the provincial government.

The report, SoundCheck: An Economic Impact Analysis of Manitoba’s Music Industry, confirms what any vibrant music community already knows: the music industry creates jobs, generates revenue, and contributes to the economy – with any investment only strengthening the results. And thanks in part to government investment, but mostly to the hardworking artists and companies who make up the flourishing music community, the industry has seen a 31% increase in GDP impact since 2011.

With just under 1.3 million residents, the province is relatively small when compared to Ontario’s almost 14 million residents, or even British Columbia’s nearly 5 million – both of which are often referred to as the music hubs of Canada and each enjoy $15m in Government music funds. Nonetheless, in the 2015 calendar year, Manitoba’s music industry produced over $93 million in GDP, generated over $32 million in tax revenues for government, and supported over 4,300 jobs.

These results are even more impressive considering the relatively limited impact that Manitoba has had on the international music stage. While many similar reports would be buoyed by a huge international artist – as someone like Flume might be for an Australian report, or Arcade Fire for Canadian province Quebec – these results show that the very act of supporting your scene, no matter the size or the impact, has the potential for outstanding return.

Still, artists like The Waking Eyes, Bif Naked, Royal Canoe, Imaginary Cities, Jet Set Satellite, Propagandhi and The Weakerthans are among the notable artists to have emerged from Manitoba over the last two decades, while its capital city Winnipeg is considered to be the place that launched Neil Young‘s career in the 1960s. The Watchmen also originated from the same city,  as did Crash Test Dummies, best known for their hit “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” (Dumb & Dumber fans will also fondly remember “The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead”).

“This report demonstrates the significant growth and economic impact our industry has on Manitoba,” says Manitoba Music’s executive director, Sean McManus. “Music is an integral part of our provincial identity, and this report shows that it is integral to our economy as well. Our vibrant music sector is driven by innovative and hardworking artist entrepreneurs and small businesses, and is a major contributor to the creative economy in our province.”

Indeed, the report notes the shift in the industry from larger companies to artist entrepreneurs, where artists are operate as micro-enterprises, responsible for financing their own projects and hiring the businesses in the supply chain that support their activities. This trend is often pointed to in similar reports from other territories around the world, including Australia.

Here are the report’s key findings: 

  • The total economic impact of the Manitoba music industry was the creation of 4,374 FTE jobs, $55.1 million in labour income and $93.8 million in GDP. Total GDP grew by 31% from $71.4 million since 2011.
  • The total fiscal impact of the Manitoba music industry was $32.2 million generated in tax revenues, an increase of 22% from 2011.
  • The music industry in Manitoba generated $4.12 for every $1 invested by the provincial government.
  • The Manitoba music industry generated $112.3 million in total revenues in 2015, increasing 21% from $93.2 million in 2011.
  • The Manitoba music industry has grown in the face of an increasingly competitive environment that has seen major investments in the sector such as the $15m per year Ontario Music Fund, and the $15m BC Music Fund.
  • With 11% of respondents identifying as Aboriginal and 19% as speaking French as their first language, the report points to a healthy representation of both groups in the sector.
  • The music industry is an important contributor to the social prosperity of Manitoba by providing a unique cultural richness and intrinsic value, enhancing the quality of life, fostering social cohesion, attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, developing a strong identity and brand, contributing to the health and wellbeing of residents, and contributing to other provincial sectors.

Manitoba Music partnered with international consulting firm Nordicity for the report, which furthermore confirms the importance of trade and export activities for Manitoba’s industry, and the imperative to build a presence in national and international markets, which includes Australia, the UK and the United States.

“SoundCheck clearly reflects the importance and impact of the health of Manitoba’s live sector and of exporting Manitoba music to global markets, which are fundamental to the continued growth of our industry,” says McManus.

“Manitoba’s music industry is a significant contributor to the economy and anchors our arts and cultural community,” said Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Rochelle Squires. “The Manitoba government is proud to support Manitoba Music, its cultural export initiatives and the significant work it does for its members.”

Read the full report HERE.