I'm sorry about my voice. I had an Air Canada flight, and it comes with a regulatory cold.
My name is Richard Flohil. I've worked in the Canadian music industry since before there was a Canadian music industry. l'm a publicist, concert promoter, writer, and editor, and my far-too-long resume includes spells as an artistic director of folk, jazz, world music, and blues festivals.
I edited a magazine called Canadian Composer/Compositeur canadien for 20 years. I was the co-founder of The Record, a trade paper that lasted for 17 years. Until recently, I had been editing Applaud!, a magazine designed to promote Canadian music outside of Canada.
I'm primarily a publicist. My clients include Loreena McKennitt, for some 22 years; the Downchild Blues Band, for more than 30; the late Jeff Healey; and a variety of newer artists--Serena Ryder, Roxanne Potvin, Justin Rutledge, Shakura S'Aida, and Paul Reddick--as well as a strong independent roots music label, Stony Plain.
CBC radio has always been supportive of all the artists I work with, and I am most grateful.
I want more, both for my artists and their contemporaries and for me as a listener.
I must say, if you'll forgive me, that I'm a little concerned that this committee is treading on dangerous ground. I could be wrong, but I can't recall a parliamentary committee getting even close to the muddy nitty-gritty of radio programming. The CBC is meant to be at arm's length from government, and in my view, this government, with the support of the opposition, should decide on an increased annual budget for the CBC, guarantee it for a foreseeable future, and then get out of the way and let our national broadcaster fulfill its mandate.
This committee is looking into two things: the CBC's decision to cancel the Vancouver radio orchestra and the proposed changes to programming on Radio 2.
The Vancouver radio orchestra should have been pulled years ago. Whatever its cost--and l've heard figures ranging from $400,000 a year to $700,000--it's excessive, especially considering the extremely limited number of concerts it performs. In terms of value for money alone, this orchestra's continuation is indefensible.
The CBC can--and indeed should, and I hope will--use the money to present a much wider and far more inclusive range of music to Canadians in all regions of the country.
Radio 2 is a good place to start. You've heard figures, I know, to indicate the minuscule size of the Radio 2 audience in recent years and the reality that its audience is aging rapidly and, quite literally, dying off. As a 73-year-old, I regret that I might not--at least, not for very long--enjoy the diversity and eclectic musical programming that Radio 2 is promising and will hopefully carry out, whatever this committee's recommendations may be.
The classical music community is single-minded and highly organized. It has good publicists and can make--and has made--a lively racket to oppose any changes in programming at Radio 2. They've had this national radio network pretty well all to themselves for decades. Now they're being told they have to share the wealth, and they are, if I may use an unparliamentary term, pissed off.
Many of these protesters start, I suspect, from an ingrained position that “classical” music--be it orchestral, choral, or chamber music, or electronic new music--is in some way intrinsically superior to other forms of music. I believe this is nonsense.
The greatest single musical figure of the 20th century, Louis Armstrong, proclaimed in his wisdom that there were only two kinds of music: good and bad.
That's my view. Radio 2 has to represent the best of all the kinds of music that Canadian musicians, composers, and songwriters make. That includes classical music; it includes assorted kinds of jazz, intelligent pop, world music that reflects the multicultural nature of this country, aboriginal music, various kinds of folk music--however you define that “f” word--the best electronic dance music, blues, alternative and edgy country, and the experimental pop that has in fact had a late-night spot on Radio 2 after all the classical music listeners have gone to bed.
Whatever problems the music industry faces in Canada today, there is no diminution of the interest in music itself.
So how do artists, new or experienced, build their audience? It's by live performance, of course, but mainly on radio. The catch is that commercial radio stations play, by my guesstimate, less than one percent of the Canadian music available. They play a tiny handful of artists of various degrees over and over again. The CBC, then, offers the only possible national outlet for hundreds of Canadian artists whose music does not fit the rigid commercial dictates of privately owned radio stations.
Radio 2 offers the potential, especially when the albatross of the radio orchestra is removed, for artists in dozens of other genres to be heard nationally on record or from their own communities playing live.
Changes to Radio 2 are coming years too late, and the efforts of the small, vocal claque of classical musicians, composers, and supporters who do not want to share the sandbox must not be allowed to stymie CBC management's attempt to bring Radio 2 into at least the latter half of the twentieth century.
This committee, most respectfully, should not interfere with that process. The CBC is not dumbing down, but building up, and it's attempting to reflect the real range of brilliant Canadian music of all kinds, which deserves to be exposed to Canadian listeners.
My friend Sam Feldman, who runs a major agency in Vancouver, recently talked at a CRTC hearing out there, and he had a great line that I would conclude with: Leonard Cohen once said that songs were letters; it's time to open the post office.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and honourable members, for the opportunity to come and speak today.
I'll be up front and say I'll take a slightly different position from my colleague next to me on what has been going on.
Of the briefs that I believe have been presented to you so far, I think there has been a lot of very, very good information put forward, very well thought out. The bottom line for me is that I think there should be a rethinking of the nature of the CBC orchestra as it's constituted, and I believe there should be a serious look at what the proposed changes are in the programming.
Just so you know a little bit about me and where I come from, I'm a practising musician, a clarinet and saxophone player. I'm currently chair of the sector council for culture, the Cultural Human Resources Council, and have been for the last six years. I'm a past chair of the New Brunswick Arts Board, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra, and am currently on the board of the New Brunswick music industry association; artistic director of the New Brunswick Summer Music Festival; and director of music at the University of New Brunswick, the latter being my actual day job.
I also bring maybe a perspective that is not from either central Canada or western Canada, which seems to be the focus of many of the comments you have had so far.
As just a little bit about what I believe the history of the CBC has been for this country, it really has been a leader in reflecting back to Canadians who it is, right from early broadcasts in 1927 over radio that went coast to coast, predecessor of what became the CBC later on. It has also been a leader in presenting music to the rest of the world through its recordings, through its international broadcasts, and through its flagship organizations.
In important times of Canadian unity, it has been there, through the high rate of commissioning during Expo 67, providing an immense amount of material that we still listen to and some people still hum, in terms of the song associated with that particular event.
As a little bit about radio orchestras themselves, radio orchestras have a long history. They began in the early twentieth century, and in most countries they belonged to—Bavaria in Germany, for instance, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, or the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan—they have been flagships of their particular countries. When you turn on their radio stations and listen to them and also buy their records in the record store, you can be sure that you're getting some of the best that's coming from that country. They focus, as ours should do, on what is the nature of the music in that country, which should reflect obviously orchestral music at its highest level, Canadian performers at the highest level, and introducing Canadian performers who are up and coming stars, many of whom have been mentioned in previous briefs as well.
This CBC orchestra we have now has many virtues that have already been mentioned, and I agree with them. I do believe, though, that the orchestra needs to be looked at and needs to be repositioned to reflect some of the historical nature of what are, again, many orchestras around the world that still exist attached to radio stations.
Our music scene is changing rapidly. I just found out, actually, today that two days ago one of the major distributors of music in the world is stopping distribution, and it's going to affect greatly what's going on in terms of distribution in this country as well. The idea of hard copy is disappearing. It will probably still exist in some form, but the whole industry is reeling from the speed of what's going on in terms of technology.
I found it kind of strange, while I was reading over some of the briefs that were presented and the comments from the CBC people, that they wanted to make more space on radio. When I poll my university students as to how they're consuming music, they're not going to the radio any more. So if you want to reach young people, that's not the place to reach them.
Who is listening to the radio? It is the people who have developed an interest in classical music and other forms, such as jazz or experimental music as well. That's the traditional place they're going to listen. Right now, they're being alienated from that position.
I think we need to also look at the position that has been mentioned several times about young people. I came today, to this particular meeting, from a music camp I'm teaching at, 200 kilometres north of Toronto. We have 400 kids from inner-city downtown Toronto, playing violins, cellos, flutes, drums, you name it, and they're enjoying it. Music festivals around this country based on western classical music are in very good shape.
At our music festival in Fredericton, where I live, our burgeoning population of Korean immigrants there are making a huge difference and a huge contribution. They are hungry for that.
So to collar classical music as “old white man's music” is really not the picture. It is not the complete picture. It is obviously, as my colleague mentioned, not all that we should be experiencing on CBC Radio 2, but I believe there's a place for it and there should be a strong place for it.
Thank you very much.
Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and honourable members. My name is Howard Knopf. I've been a lawyer since 1980, working mainly on copyright law, and often on issues related to the music business.
Before that I was a professional musician for several years and a frequent performer and recording artist for the CBC. As a matter of fact, I played the clarinet. I may have been Mr. Hornsby's teacher, but I wasn't very memorable because he doesn't remember that. At least I wasn't a bad teacher.
We're talking today about an ageist and anti-elitist agenda, plainly described in the CBC's own controversial arts and culture study, which I've asked to have translated and distributed to you.
Now classical music is going to be banished to between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., which is great for those of us in nursing homes, but we aren't all there yet. But it's not so great for the next generation of Canadians who are now at school at that time and who won't get to hear Ben Heppner, Bramwell Tovey, James Ehnes, the Orford Quartet, or Gavin Bryars, who has just written a wonderful letter to you that will be distributed once it is translated.
What this is about is a gratuitous windfall worth millions of dollars a year to the commercial music industry establishment in Canada. That establishment already has such measures as Canadian content regulations for commercial radio, the levy on blank tape media that has generated about $0.25 billion—that's with a capital B, as in Bob—and the rich FACTOR program, which is paid for by commercial broadcasters and injects more than $14 million a year into the commercial radio industry “to support the Canadian music industry”.
Now Celine, Shania, Avril, Sarah, and Feist all did perfectly well without having to rely upon CBC Radio 2. There's already tremendous incentive and a tremendous infrastructure in place in the industry to find the next star. They don't need Radio 2.
On the other hand, without Radio 2, serious musicians in this country will have virtually nothing, unless they happen to teach at a university or get a small commission now and then.
The Globe and Mail ran an ad last March 29 that would have cost the CBC—it was a CBC ad—probably about $75,000. I've asked that this ad be translated and distributed to you. It's mainly a list of those who support and clearly will benefit from this cultural revolution, most notably the big four international record companies, Feist, and lots of other companies, associations, and people from the commercial music industry. Mr. Kulawik, who we'll hear from soon, from True North Records, is also on that list.
The ad makes the absurd statement that there are 30,000 new songs recorded each year in Canada and that only 250 get regular air play on commercial radio. Well, so what? Not all songs are created equal. Who knows where these numbers came from, and what constitutes regular air play? It is not hard to guess why the commercial radio stations might ignore the other 29,750 songs, and it's certainly not CBC's job to give every self-proclaimed songwriter three minutes of fame each year.
I published an analysis in The Hill Times on April 21, 2008, about how these changes will cost CBC millions of dollars a year in increased copyright fees alone, payable to SOCAN and NRCC, which are the two big performing rights organizations. Nobody has even attempted to refute this conclusion. I've asked to have this translated and distributed to you as well.
Now the switch from serious to pop music will clearly benefit the commercial music industry in terms of copyright royalties and other ways, such as AF of M payments and record sales.
Since you've done so much marvellous work with these hearings to date, I suggest you do even a bit more and invite some key people from the commercial music industry who can better explain to you how their industry will benefit from the new CBC regime and whether their industry actually needs and deserves the resulting subsidy.
You might want to invite such people as Graham Henderson, the head of CRIA and on the board of directors of the NRCC; André Lebel from SOCAN; Eddie Schwartz from the Songwriters Association of Canada; and Peter Steinmetz, a preeminent entertainment lawyer and a leader for several decades in several capacities in the Canadian commercial music industry. He is currently the chairman of the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
You might also wish to invite the CBC back, including its chairperson, Timothy Casgrain. If this isn't important enough to merit his attendance, I don't know what would be. You might wish to hear again from Messrs. Lacroix and Stursberg, to give them a chance to reply to these four days of testimony, and also to invite their mid-level managers who are tasked with implementing, enforcing, and defending the new regime, and who have spoken very publicly about it and why they think it's all good and necessary. They are Chris Boyce and Mark Steinmetz.
This is an historic moment, not as dramatic as the crisis involving This Hour Has Seven Days, but ultimately perhaps just as important, if not more. I urge you to do what is within your power by making a strong statement to the minister and the Prime Minister. I hope they and their cabinet colleagues and that mysterious force known as the Governor in Council will immediately do what needs to be done to rescue and restore the CBC to its former glory. Your guidance and wisdom will be essential in this process.
If I have another minute or two....
I just want to mention some of the damage that's been done to date with this purge--and it's nothing less than that. There's no more young composers competition. Ben Heppner has recently gone on record as stating, “The most important moment in my career was winning the CBC competition in 1979.” Where's the next Ben Heppner going to come from? There are no more young composer competitions.
There's no more Two New Hours show, which was cut off just before its 30th anniversary. It was a world-acclaimed show. There's no more Howard Dyck, Larry Lake, and Rick Phillips--in fact, no more erudite, learned, and eloquent hosts any more. We have hosts who talk too much, breathe heavily into the microphone, and can't pronounce foreign names, but they do sound under 50, I'll give them that much.
We have censorship of CBC blogs, even elimination of the ones that got too critical. We have dumbing down to the lowest common denominator of dull jazz, folk, world, and other diverse bad music.
What do we do about all of this? I know you're concerned, we're all concerned, about CBC independence, but here's my quick answer--and we'll probably come back to it later. The government controls the appointment of the CBC board, its chair, and its president. This committee can express its views on whether changes should be made at that level, or indeed even further down the line. There's nothing wrong with this committee expressing its views. We have freedom of expression in Canada, and you have privilege.
The government also controls the CBC budget. There's no need to provide taxpayer subsidies to a second-rate commercial radio network. Before you think about increasing the CBC's budget and etching it in stone for several years, you should ensure the money will be well spent, not spent on the vision of a few managers who want to use this institution to promote mediocre commercial music--or even quality commercial music that needs no promotion or subsidy. I have no objection to commercial music, in its place and in its time.
All this is strangely reminiscent.... What goes around comes around. Those who don't study history are condemned to repeat it. I urge you to have a look at this great book by Knowlton Nash, who knows a thing or two about the CBC. All of this has happened before, and will probably keep on happening, and that's what makes this country wonderful. But you have a role to play occasionally in correcting things at the CBC, and this is another one of those points in history.
Thank you very much.
Hello, and thanks for asking me to come and speak. I'm just representing myself. What I have to say has quite a bit more personal sort of approach than the previous colleague who just spoke, and it really just speaks to my experience.
I've been working professionally in the music industry in Canada for at least 25 years, and I've worked in a lot of roles. Much like Richard Flohil, it's really too long a list to mention, but I started as a professional musician and made a living in that way for quite a few years. I've promoted shows; I've produced records; I've been a journalist; I've run a record company, and so on. Over the years I've had the privilege of working with many of Canada's most dedicated and accomplished musicians, some of whom are big names that I could mention that you'd all know, but many of whom are names that remain obscure to this day. But it's not for lack of talent, at least in my estimation.
Since 2001 I've specialized in artist management, and my current roster includes two Juno Award winners, The McDades and Kiran Ahluwalia. It also includes two Juno-nominated first nations artists who both won aboriginal music awards for their releases, Asani and Wayne Lavallee, and others. They're obviously successful in a certain sort of way and doing very well by getting the highest awards in the country that they can aspire to.
No participant in the media landscape today can remain static indefinitely, in my opinion, and I commend Radio 2's management for having the foresight and conviction to push ahead with new programming ideas that will bring significant changes to the current format. The plan to increase both the overall percentage of Canadian content played—at least I understand this is the plan—and the diversity of some of that same content is a highly laudable goal, and frankly, it's long overdue. As an avid listener of Radio 1 and Radio 2, I'm aware of some of the changes that have recently been made to the schedule. These changes have already had an impact on several of the artists I work with outside the mainstream, or--other derogatory terms--mediocre, perhaps, pop realm. None of them are pop artists in my roster.
Canada Live, in particular, is injecting much-needed additional revenue and exposure into the careers of many of the deserving artists I'm talking about. Canada Live now runs five days a week in the evenings. The reality of presenting and/or touring non-mainstream musical artists in Canada is extremely challenging, and the significantly increased and newly available recording funds that Radio 2 has through the Canada Live program are a very welcome development indeed.
As I speak right now, one of my artists, Wayne Lavallee, is setting up at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for a show that's being both presented and recorded—a show for the public—by Radio 2 in Vancouver. It's being billed “Stolen Children--Truth and Reconciliation”, and it's in honour of the beginning of the hearings on this very issue.
Last February Kiran Ahluwalia performed with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, playing arrangements and new compositions that were commissioned by Radio 2, from Glenn Buhr, a well-known and award-winning composer and arranger. And it was also recorded by CBC Radio 2.
These projects and many others like them are great examples of the kind of work and programming Radio 2 could and should be doing more of. Some of the “more doing of it” is because of these specific recent changes. The additional exposure gained from having these recordings then broadcast nationally and then streamed live on the net provides even further ongoing benefit for the artists.
Something I allude to here, but I'll make clear, is that they get paid for these recording sessions, which helps the economics of the performance they're doing, because their participation in the recordings is bought out and then the recording is owned by CBC.
As these new avenues for exposure and support through Radio 2 continue to roll out and grow, it's sure to have a meaningful and long-lasting impact on the health and stability of Canada's performing artists in all genres and disciplines, and to the community of music industry workers as a whole. And I don't mean by that people like Graham Henderson; I mean people like me, who make a pretty humble living in this business, and there are lots of us.
I also believe the Canadian public and Radio 2 listenership will benefit as much, if not more, from this change in the long run. Canada's rich tapestry of creative artists is at once impressive and yet remains largely unknown to the general public, and it would seem, possibly, even to people who are focused on the arts, in many cases. New diversity in programming will not just help a new explosion of artistic voices to emerge on the national stage; it will also introduce many new listeners to what is already a vital and growing part of the Canadian culture today.
I certainly believe that Radio 2 should continue to support orchestral music in all its forms. The success of Kiran's show with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra has already led directly to her being offered the opportunity to collaborate with three other orchestral ensembles in the coming year: the Windsor Symphony Orchestra; Calgary's Urban Chamber Orchestra; and a two-night stand at a 1,500-seat hall with the Chicago Sinfionetta, doing Glenn Buhr's commissioned music at that event.
With its unique national reach, Radio 2 has an unparalleled ability to help define and reflect what it means to be Canadian, but it cannot do this without significantly adding to the variety of programming it presents and plays.
I recently reviewed portions of the mandate of the CBC, and I noted that many of the things I'm alluding to in this presentation are indeed the goals stated for the organization. They include the following: “to reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences while serving the special needs of those regions”; to “actively contribute to the flow and exchange of cultural expression”; and to “contribute to a shared national consciousness and identity”.
In my opinion, the changes taking place right now at Radio 2 have the potential at least to bring CBC Radio 2 much more in line with these goals than it has been for some time in just presenting classical music. I attend many live music events across the country, from folk and jazz festivals, to theatres, to coffee shops, to bars. Invariably, I see audiences filled with open-minded, music-loving fans, and I see musicians who are drawing from an increasingly diverse and multicultural wellspring. Unfortunately, mainstream radio reflects none of this reality.
In closing, CBC Radio 2 has always been a source of support for music that gets little or no space in the commercial media sphere, primarily classical, in the recent past, certainly. But by any measure, it has not kept up with the pace of change and growth that is the reality of what's been happening on the ground in Canada culturally for a long time. As more Canadians increasingly hear their own voices reflected back to them when they tune in to Radio 2, the polyglot of sounds and ideas that make our country what it is today will flourish, and that will increase the bonds that make us all Canadian.
My name is Joan Pierre. I have lived in Toronto for the past 38 years. I have been a producer and event planner for more than 25 years.
I have served as the key consultant for conferences, special events, and festivals, among them Toronto's Caribana, the African Heritage Music Festival in New Orleans, the African Canadian Achievement Awards, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conference, the Urban Music Association of Canada, and the Olympic Cultural Advisory Committee.
I have also served on boards and committees promoting Canada's arts industry. I have lent my expertise to organizations such as the National Ballet School, Canadian Stage Company, Tropicana Community Services, and Ontario's Ministry of Tourism and Recreation.
I have been an avid CBC listener since the mid-eighties, more a Radio One listener, since its days on AM 740. Both my husband and I listen almost exclusively to CBC radio. All the radios in our home are tuned to CBC stations, and in my car, the first program button is 99.1 FM. Radio 2 is also on one of my pre-programmed buttons. I quite often get home and remain seated in my car, in the driveway or garage, listening to the end of a segment of As It Happens or Ideas. I rise on weekday mornings with Metro Morning and listen to Fresh Air and Sunday Morning on the weekends.
This is all a critical part of making me an informed citizen of this country and an aware human being on planet Earth.
More recently, I have started paying more attention to Radio 2, in particular after a calypso show with David Rudder and company in Toronto during Black History Month.
As a member of Toronto's black and Caribbean community and as an active member of the arts community in the city, I have been conscious of the subtle shift in programming on both stations and the effort to broaden the appeal of the stations to Toronto's various ethnic communities. I support this move entirely. I say this as a person with broad musical tastes. As a child, I studied classical piano until my late teens. I then retained a love of classical music. As a Caribbean woman, I also love the folk and popular music of the Caribbean and of Africa and Latin America. It has been great to see more world music programming on the various stations, balanced with the more traditional classical offerings and North American pop music offerings.
The CBC, in all its forms, is a Canadian treasure. As the baby boom generation ages, if we intend to keep the CBC alive and well, we must find ways of connecting with younger listeners. I would like to see this done without dumbing down the programming. The CBC audience is a very intelligent audience. One has to assume that younger listeners are picking up the habit by osmosis from their parents. As their thinking matures, they will gravitate naturally to the various stations.
I think the current programming changes have managed to strike the right balance so that young people will be attracted to the fresher material but ultimately will be intellectually challenged and stimulated by the broad range of CBC programming.
Thank you to the committee for affording me the opportunity to be part of this important dialogue.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before this panel.
My name is Ingrid Whyte. I love classical music. When I was growing up, my parents had a good collection of classical LPs that we played often. I went to the National Ballet School, where I was exposed to much more wonderful classical music, both in ballet classes and in music appreciation classes. I attend concerts regularly, sometimes as a subscriber to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and other visiting ensembles, as well as many other local and visiting orchestras. But you should know that I also go to the Toronto and Montreal jazz festivals regularly; I hear jazz and blues in small clubs across the city. I have tickets to see Robert Plant and Alison Krauss next month, and I downloaded every single song performed by David Cook on American Idol this year.
Am I unique? I don't think so. I, like many other people, have a variety of musical tastes and an appetite not only to consume what I'm familiar with but to try new things and be exposed to new music and artists.
I am a loyal, but not exclusive, CBC listener. I tend to migrate between stations on the dial, usually between CBC Radio One and Radio 2, and jazzfm, but more so between CBC and satellite radio, where I tend to listen to more alternative, folk, and indie stations. If listening tastes are so diverse in one individual such as me, imagine the diversity that is reflected by our changing cultural mosaic. I applaud the fact that CBC Radio 2 will represent more of that diversity.
Much has been made of the fact that it appears that Radio 2 is chasing a younger demographic at the expense of older, core listeners. I don't see it that way. I see the changes, more importantly, as appealing to a broader demographic. I listen to Canada Live now sometimes in the car, and I am thrilled to be hearing some of this music: a Celtic music festival from Vancouver, a songwriter's session in Montreal, and even Buck 65 with Symphony Nova Scotia last week. It's fantastic, and it's live, and it's all over this country. And while I don't necessarily like all of the music, along the way I am introduced to some wonderful new artists.
CBC Radio 2 is opening my ears, my mind, and sometimes even my heart, to music I never would have heard otherwise. What's important for me, as a listener, is that the program is not just a playlist, but the music is explored and interpreted with good hosts who demonstrate curiosity and respect for the artists.
What will distinguish CBC Radio 2 from other stations is its continuing commitment to do that well across all genres and show us a new and deeper side both to music that is familiar and to music that is new.
As it is a public broadcaster, funded by my tax dollars, I expect CBC Radio 2 to intelligently reflect music that is, in turn, a reflection of our diversity. CBC's mandate is clear: to inform, enlighten, and entertain. And that mandate is further reflected in some of the following goals, not all of which I will take the time to read to you today, but which include being predominantly and distinctively Canadian; reflecting Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences while serving the special needs of those regions; actively contributing to the flow and exchange of cultural expression; contributing to a shared national consciousness and identity; and reflecting the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada.
Classical music alone cannot contribute to all of these goals. From what I see, CBC is not removing or killing classical music as so many headlines and blogs have suggested, but asking classical music to move over and share some of that space.
Classical music continues to be the cornerstone of the network, with more hours dedicated to it than to any other genre. But previously underserved genres like jazz, world, roots, blues, even--dare I say it--alternative and popular music, are getting time too. Programming will have its highs and lows in these genres as well as in the classical programs. Not everything will appeal to everyone. That's the beauty of music. It's very personal, it's very subjective, and obviously it's very emotional.
Canada is much more than western classical music. My kids went to public school in one of Toronto's most culturally diverse neighbourhoods. When they were in high school, all of the music played by the band or the orchestra at holiday concerts and performances was classical. But you know what? When the kids in the school organized their own shows, like talent shows, going to a concert was suddenly stepping into their world, the stuff that rings true to them. And sure, while there were a couple of classical pianists, there were also hip-hop and rap performances, East Indian singing and dancing, South Asian percussion, and wonderful combinations of all of the above. It was a huge variety of colour, movement, and sound born out of their communities. It was important to them, and they had pride in sharing it with the school community.
As I said earlier, I believe the changes at CBC Radio 2 are not about chasing a younger demographic, but about reflecting that broader diversity.
Much has been made in blogs and speeches and editorials about the fact that a major block of classical music programming is moving to a 10-to-3 slot on weekdays. The renowned James Ehnes, whose music and talent I adore, suggested he was disappointed by this because it is exactly when children and teenagers are in school and won't be able to listen.
Let me tell you a story. I'm a parent of two daughters studying music performance and music education at McGill. They played for years with the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra, Music at Port Milford, and many other ensembles. If anyone is predisposed to listening to classical music, they sure are. But in high school, did they come home and turn on CBC Radio 2? Even if I had it turned on in the house, did they stay with me just to listen to it? No. They went to their rooms and listened to their CDs--Third Eye Blind, Counting Crows, Pearl Jam, etc.--while doing homework.
So my kids love classical music, but they don't listen to it on radio. Why do my kids love classical music if they don't get it from radio? Well, they were introduced to it in school. They were the shyest kids on earth and then some wonderful teacher put an instrument into their hands, stuck them into an ensemble, and the life came out of them. As their interest grew in school, we nourished it at home. We'd go to the occasional concert. We'd buy them CDs for birthdays and Christmas that always included classical music, and this music always found its way onto their iTunes library.
Before coming here I did a little Internet research into young people's listening habits, and here's a little bit of what I found.
An online poll of 14- to 24-year-olds, conducted by Paragon Media Strategies last fall, found that 73% of them listen to music on sources other than radio. Not surprisingly, iPods and personal mix CDs were found as the major threats to radio listening, and 68% of iPod owners have personalized playlists and are creating their own content. Over three-quarters of those polled said they listen to personalized CD mixes, a third of them are listening to less radio, and only 19% said they are listening to more radio.
My point is that even if CBC Radio 2 were playing exclusively pop and rock, it isn't necessarily going to get more of this younger demographic. l'm sure this is something privately owned contemporary rock stations worry about too. Listening behaviour is changing, and not only among young people, though they are surely leading the charge. It's no longer as simple as turning the dial, and we would be wise to take note.
When I look at CBC Radio 2, I see not only broadening diversity, but also increasing options for access to music. I see a website that is full of podcasts and concerts on demand. When I last looked, there were over 700 concerts on demand, a list that continues to grow. The bulk of these concerts are identified as orchestral, Canadian-composed contemporary orchestral, chamber, and choral/vocal, representing most of the major Canadian symphony orchestras, and many other wonderful ensembles. So not only is classical music still the cornerstone of CBC Radio 2, but the corporation is providing more opportunities to access it on individual terms.
In terms of the CBC Radio Orchestra, I lament its loss. The orchestra represented a unique legacy of orchestral broadcasting, the last bastion of a dying breed in North America, rich with history, passion, and talent. I'm sure this was a very difficult decision for CBC. But the environment in which the orchestra was launched many years ago is vastly different from the environment in which it operates today. I'm hopeful about the new opportunities that can be created with the money saved from running the orchestra.
The CBC must create opportunities for more new works to be commissioned, have more of those new commissions performed through our existing orchestras, and have more of our wonderful orchestras showcased through our public broadcaster. These will be positive outcomes that will result from a very difficult decision.
I suppose, in closing, I would say that as long as CBC Radio 2 continues to support classical music as its cornerstone, as long as it surprises and delights me with music that reflects our communities, as long as it does so with intelligence and a sense of curiosity, then I will continue to be a loyal listener. CBC Radio One and Radio 2 have made changes in the past, not all of which l've supported, but along the way l've always been introduced to wonderful new hosts and programming that has enriched my experience of music in this country and beyond.
Thank you for this opportunity to be heard.
Thanks for inviting me to speak today.
My name is Geoff Kulawick. I'm the president of True North Records and Linus Entertainment. We are producers and marketers of sound recordings. We focus on producing Canadian artists and marketing Canadian artists here in Canada and internationally.
Some of the artists we've recorded and released include Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, Lynn Miles, and Catherine MacLellan on the True North Records label, and on the Linus Entertainment label, Gordon Lightfoot, Sophie Milman, Ashley MacIsaac, Quartetto Gelato, and the Canadian Brass.
I'm also the vice-chair of CIRPA, the Canadian Independent Record Production Association, which is the trade association representing over 150 Canadian independent sound recording labels and producers.
The issue being considered today is CBC's commitment to classical music and changes to CBC Radio 2. We—CIRPA, and me speaking on behalf of True North Records and Linus Entertainment—fully support the proposed changes to CBC, and we do so for the following reasons.
Canadian artists who produce a wide variety of music that reflects Canadian society face challenges in reaching the ears of Canadians. Many of the artists I mentioned above are unable to be heard on commercial radio because of tight programming playlists, outside of a few college radio stations with limited power.
Folk artists write and sing songs about the Canadian identity, with lyrics that speak about regional and geographic locations within Canada. New Canadians from origins ranging from Africa to Asia, whose cultural experience is unique as they merge with Canadian culture, create unique world music recordings that reflect their own culture and Canadian culture combined.
Contemporary jazz, blues, and experimental artists and musicians, whose music does not fit on any commercial radio formats whose playlists are for Canadian artists, reflect our people.
Many of these artists have more airplay in the United States through a format called AAA Radio and National Public Radio than in our own country.
We don't support removing classical music entirely from the airwaves, because we also produce classical music. We will continue funding classical recordings, as will other private Canadian independent labels, because we don't feel that a reduction in the amount of airplay on CBC radio for classical music will materially affect the sales of classical recordings or tickets for concerts that we produce.
Rather, we feel that the ability to connect with new audiences and introduce music through a more diverse playlist and programming on CBC Radio 2 will have a very material impact on the artists of other genres that we are involved in producing.
The company of mine that is producing these artists is run out of my house. I have a 1990 Dodge minivan, and I did not fly here on a Leer jet. We are all struggling artists, creators, and entrepreneurs investing in these Canadian recordings. We really feel it's important that we have an ability for these artists to be heard, so that we can grow their careers, be a viable business, and reflect the Canadian identity.
You may be surprised by some of the names of artists who are not being heard in Canada in the list I'm about to read. It's really down to a question of whether we want to support CBC Radio 2's and the management's decision to reach out to all Canadians and bands of all kinds of music, and whether these artists will be heard: Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot—his new album, which we released, had almost no air play—Bruce Cockburn, Joni Mitchell, Alex Cuba, Ron Hynes, Murray McLauchlan, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, the Great Lake Swimmers, Luke Doucet, and Le Vent du Nord.
These are all extremely popular Canadian artists. They tour, selling out theatres and drawing thousands of people to folk festivals, and they cannot be heard on the airwaves in Canada. We fully support CBC management's plan to open up the airwaves to be more inclusive of these and other genres of artists.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
First of all, thanks to everybody. I think the members of the committee will agree with me that this is probably the richest panel we've had to date as far as the various views go. We've had a tendency to see pretty much consensus to this point, and I don't think it'll exist here today.
On the question of the role of the committee, I think reference was made to the fact that we're in a very tricky place. I think it is appropriate for the committee to speak on behalf of the people who see us as their access in some ways, only to express an opinion, only to say this is what we're getting, this is what we think. I don't think that's inappropriate. We're not trying to tell the CBC how to program and do those things.
I think perhaps we would be redundant if the number of witnesses who appeared said they didn't have access in advance of the decision, and that might have meant there would be less need for us to express that interest. So I think it's important. I don't think anybody here wants to get into the very awful place that would be represented by politicians and governments telling a national broadcaster what to do, how to behave, what to think, what to show.
Everyone's passion is obvious. The idea that we have to choose seems to me to be the bigger problem. We're talking about one or the other, when I think we really would like to see a richness of all of it. When we talked to the CBC about the possibility of Radio 3, they spoke to us about the lack of availability of bandwidth to do that. I don't understand the technicalities of that, but I'd like to know if that is something worth pursuing, to your minds, so that this becomes less of a pushing aside--I think somebody used that reference--or a standing aside and letting others on to have the same access. Is that a possible resolution?
Finally, the committee has produced a report recommending significant increases to the funding for the CBC. If this is a resources issue, how would you feel about us recommending that any decision be held until we find out how the government responds? The government is due to respond on June 28. It strikes me that if in their response to that report they accept that they need to do the seven-year memorandum...at the very least, before large decisions are made within the present environment, they should wait to see what the new environment might look like.
I leave that open for members to answer.
I definitely support my colleague's last comments on that topic. If I knew for sure that new programming initiatives by CBC Radio 2 were going to draw a bigger market share, I'd be managing much more successful artists, I suppose. Predicting these kinds of things is a difficult business.
In my estimation, it is actually not much different from figuring out whether this artist will succeed and draw a big crowd of fans around themselves and have a long career and the next artist might not. To that extent, as Mr. Knopf suggested, some of the classical personalities are being lost in the shuffle, and I think that is a shame.
Again, if we look at BBC radio, their big shows, the Charlie Gilletts, the Andy Kershaws, and so on, are on the roster of stars basically running their radio shows. They have Peter Mansbridges at every significant show, or they do a lot of that.
I think programming thematic shows, even if there is a wide theme within the show, is one way they might be able to build their market share with these changes they're making.
Something that has not come up yet on this panel, which I'll quickly mention to you, and which is I think an impressive model, is CKUA. I moved to Alberta three years ago, although I was born there too. It has been going for 85 years non-stop. It is, at this point, entirely publicly funded by donation and pledge. The have some thematic shows, but their prime-time run from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. every day is eclectic. The programming is never predictable. It's all over the map. There are parameters. There are certain things you don't hear, but what they drive it on is the hosts. The hosts are there for the morning show, the afternoon drive, this and that. It's not about, “I play blues; I play folk; I play this.” It's about “This is me as a host, and my opinion today about what I'm going to run up against.... I'm going to put opera up against a cappella jazz, followed by Bulgarian folk, and then I'm going to give you Led Zeppelin.” They will just do that in programming blocks. They have a very dedicated listening audience, and I think it is succeeding quite well for what it is.
So the hosts are an important thing, although I couldn't pick one and say this one will be a hit and that one won't.
Thank you for coming. We appreciate this.
Mr. Siksay asked one of the questions I was going to ask Mr. Hornsby about the rethinking of the role. Mr. Chong's question about the need for Radio 3 was of interest to me as well. What I look at is the need for a critical mass to maintain any one kind of market, if you want to call it that.
I know in the retail commercial business, restaurants and retailers change their format sometimes because they don't feel they're getting the growth in the market they want. Most retailers look in terms of growth rather than just survival, I think, but it could be survival as well. They are subject to the viability of that particular market, and I think this is where public radio, or CBC in this case, provides an alternative, just as public television provides an area, and it's the sharing of that. It seems to me there also has to be enough time--that's what we're talking about, bandwidth, time, the combination of the two, enough channels on television--to be able to provide the range of the different genres we want to see.
My concern is that I believe classical music is an encouragement to classical musicians. My experience has been that many of the musicians in the other fields have opportunities through commercial radio, particularly the popular ones.
I'm concerned about the issue of the market. Are not the baby boomers still the largest chunk? Of all the demographics I see going through in terms of population--I'm not saying of the market but of population--the baby boomers are the biggest bulge, and because baby boomers and their children have had fewer children, we're seeing a mushroom effect, the bulge and then the stem.
It seems to me that commercial radio is not serving the bulge as well as it did, because when I was part of that bulge, the leading edge was rock and roll, and now I'm interested in classical music, folk again, and some of the other genres. I don't see that being served.
Does there need to be a critical mass? If you take the time away from Radio 2 that's available now for the CBC Radio Orchestra, for example.... I mentioned at the last meeting that I attended a concert at the Chan Centre, and they were playing pop and semi-pop music in an orchestral sense. It was very stimulating to hear, but it was in a different context. I think we should do what we can. My feeling is to keep that orchestra alive. It has a great tradition, and it's the last of the radio orchestras. Is a critical mass needed to maintain that opportunity?
Ingrid, you made a comment, and I will quote it: “as long as CBC Radio 2 continues to support classical music as its cornerstone”, I think was the word you used. I'm wondering what the mass is to keep that cornerstone. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. most people are working and students are in school, and I know that younger people are getting their music through iPods, computers, and other forms, while they're studying as well.
I hope that's clear. I don't know who can answer that directly.
Thank you. I'll take a first stab at it, at least answering some of it.
One thing—I guess this is the educator in me speaking—is that the aging audience we talk about is a continually aging audience. One thing about classical music is that it's not something a typical 12-year-old in Canada is probably going to grab on to. But a typical 10- or 12-year-old doesn't like broccoli either. It's an exposure thing, which over a period of time people seem to gravitate towards.
We're not going to lose these people. They're not just going to die off; they're being replenished continually. It's something that people tend to come to. Even colleagues and friends of mine who are not musicians at all but are in their thirties and forties are starting to go to classical music concerts for the first time, because now is the right time in their life to experience that style of music. It works for them.
Classical music has been going on for over 1,000 years. It's not a fly-by-night operation; it's going to be there. I'm not sure whether I'm addressing your question quite correctly, but if we ask about critical mass, my belief is, again as an educator, that it's always going to be there. It's mainly because of the way in which, since the middle of the 20th century, so much of our consumption of entertainment and culture has become commercially based that there is now perhaps a smaller percentage of people who are experiencing it.
It's rather the same argument I think as that about museums, for instance: what the percentage of the population is of those who go to a museum, compared with, if you polled the same total population, how many believe they should have a museum in their community. I believe the latter number would be huge compared with the number of people who actually walked in the door, but they still believe it should be there.
I also fully appreciate that this applies to classical music as well, but I don't think it's going away. There are no indications. As I said, I just came from teaching 400 kids north of Toronto, from every ethnic group under the sun. They're playing those instruments; they're playing that style of music.
Just to finish that—because I'm also a jazz musician, and I represent popular musicians as well through the industry association—it's not a partisan comment that I'm making; it's just that I think sometimes classical music is relegated to the old people who are going into the homes, which, as somebody mentioned, is not true.