Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Canadian artists embrace stupidity, try to regulate the net


My non-Canadian readers may not be aware of it, but Canada’s media industries have long worked under the yoke of CanCon, a government policy that states TV and radio stations must play “X” amount of Canadian content if they want to play other, predominantly American, shows and music that people actually want to watch and listen to. There are several flaws in the system, not the least of which is that is if a Canadian artist becomes a huge success, like Celine Dion or Bryan Adams, their work is no longer considered “Canadian.” Actually, given the suckitude of both those artists, maybe that isn’t such a bad policy.

At any rate, Cancon regulations created a myriad number of terrible bands who would have otherwise never been heard of, and recent successes like the Montreal indie music scene have more to do with file sharing and Myspace than they do with cultural policy.

So it’s amusing to me that a bunch of Canadian artists want to regulate the internet in order to make sure online content created by Canadians doesn’t get buried under a deluge of American content. It seems like they’re fighting the last war, when scarce space on the airwaves meant there was only so much room for content to be seen. With the internet, those conditions no longer apply. Speaking as a content creator myself, I know most of my (small) fan base isn’t even in Canada, but rather in the US, England, and Australia.

Amusing, but shocking. Try to keep up, whiny Canadian artists. While you were begging for grants and throwing derisive glares at those of us who don’t make experimental tone poems on Super8 film, the world passed you by.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

3 Responses to “ Canadian artists embrace stupidity, try to regulate the net ”

Darren Barefoot says:

You know, I read that Gazette article twice, and I still don’t really know what the artists want. What exactly do they mean that we’re selling too much American content here in Canada? What content, in particular? I’m not sure if this is Hardacre’s fault or the reporters, but it’s bafflingly vague.

Jordan says:

Yes, the whole issue is quite ridiculous. Don’t like the balance of content on the web? Then get publishing yourself. There’s nothing to stop you, and it should stay that way.

To clarify quickly your point about Cancon Warren: whether someone has Cancon status is not a measure of success, but rather is based on the “MAPL” system (like the leaf, eh?) where at least two of the four of Music (composer), Artist, Producer, or Lyricist be considered Canadian. (A percentage of the financial side has to be of the Canuck variety as well I think).

What this means is that much of Mr. Adams’ and Ms. Dion’s work is still considered Cancon, but anything they’ve done without a Canadian team doesn’t qualify.

A sidebar: I was at the NHL All Star game in 1994 when Bryan Adams botched the National Anthem. His publicist would have you believe that he was singing “the old version,” rather than admitting the truth…that he had forgotten the words. I was also there during his rehearsals earlier that day, and Mr. Adams drew a blank then, too.

jabberwocky says:

So what are they trying to do again? Does this mean that you would have to play something by some Canadian in your show to keep it from losing the CanCon Funding it doesn’t have already?

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