Ottawa gets an industry boost

Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) held its Annual General Meeting on April 16 at Arts Court where the organization updated membership on the activities from fiscal 2023 and painted a picture for the future of the growing organization.

Executive Director Melanie Brulée presented the Annual Report and future vision for the organization as it presented its 2024-27 Strategic Plan. In addition, outgoing Treasurer Tara Shannon (who, along with Anne Marie Brügger and Sophia Conradie had their last meetings as Directors) presented the organization's audited financial statements.

Highlights of the presentation included the improving financial situation for the young organization that has attracted major sponsorship funds from local tech firm Kinaxis, and a growing staff footprint through the addition of program, membership and communication staff. Through these expansions, the organization has been able to provide ever-increasing direct benefit for performers and sound engineers, through paid work that Brulée cited as a vital financial off-set for the early career challenges in attracting paid showcase opportunities.

OMIC was founded in 2015 and buoyed by the Music City principle put forward by Music Canada (representing Canada’s big three major labels) and influential Canadian business lobby The Canadian Chamber of Commerce. The organization found support in the City of Ottawa, on the strength of the Music City ideal, who provided initial funding ($30,000) for the organization in 2017 under then-Major Jim Watson as Ottawa hosted the JUNO Awards that year.

In 2018, the organization published its initial Ottawa Music Strategy which brought an additional $100,000 in annual funding from the city to grow the organization and its programming, including the addition of a Capital Music Awards program. The City published a final report on the progress of its initial funding package in 2022 citing major progress towards both its and OMIC’s targeted outcomes.

Key reforms included in the initial funding included Agent of Change regulation updates for ByWard Market, and an updated designation for Bronson Centre allowing an increase in music offerings. An expanded performance showcase footprint for OMIC artists including Public Library, and LRT pop-up stages, expanded recorded works contract opportunities through programs like music on hold, and direct music development funding and programming for industry participants.

On the success of these impacts, the City of Ottawa renewed OMIC’s funding and doubled their investment, providing $135,000 annually through 2026 via Economic Development funds, and additional project funding in support of City Sounds and other projects. At the Annual Meeting, Brulée emphasized the importance of its newly unveiled strategy roadmap and specifically, the organization’s work to present City Council with an updated strategy ahead of the municipal elections in 2026.

The organization is also seeking to expand the footprint of its Capital Music Awards with the adoption of Capital Music Week, a slow-growing campaign of shoulder programming that will include educational sessions for industry professionals surrounding its marquee event.

With three outgoing Directors, the organization’s membership also acclaimed three in-coming Directors. Kevin Ford, the CEO of Calian, Daniel Sauvé, General Manager of Steve’s Music, and Chris Saracino, a communications professional will serve two-year terms.