B.C. music biz keeps hitting high notes

From the JUNO awards to the world-famous Shambala festival, the music scene in B.C. is booming. We look at the numbers and factors that help the industry grow, and the next steps for 2019.

From the Juno Awards to festivals, the scene is turning it up to 11

B.C.’s music industry is rock ‘n’ rolling. Given the wealth of musicians in and from the province, it’s no surprise that the sector is a major economic driver. Music BC, which advocates for the industry’s advancement, has compiled an official year in review and a look at what’s in store for 2019. 

Last year, for the first time in a decade, Vancouver hosted the Juno Awards, which bestow some of Canada’s highest honours in music. The show was deemed a resounding success, with an economic impact of more than $10 million for the province. 

It doesn’t stop there, though. The live music scene plays a major role in the B.C. economy. From concerts to festivals, the province hosts some of the biggest names in entertainment—so much so that live music added $815 million to our gross domestic product last year.

The industry gives British Columbians many employment opportunities. For example, last year Vancouver had 14,540 jobs in the music business, with average salaries of between $51,000 and $65,000.

Vancouver musicians also get some help from the government. On Tuesday, city council approved $300,000 in grants to “support the growth [and] the development of the music industry and support Indigenous and underrepresented musicians to create and perform.” Additionally, the province pledged $7.5 million in funding for Amplify BC, a program to benefit those working in B.C.’s diverse music industry. 

Musicians and other industry professionals filled up their extracurricular calendars in 2018, too. Besides putting on world-class events and concerts, Music BC hosted mental health workshops, led training for professional development, and provided touring and business travel grants to nearly 150 local artists in 2018.

In 2019, the industry will focus on renewing the Amplify BC initiative and building ties within the Pacific Northwest region for festivals. It will also aim to foster collaboration between B.C. musicians and the video game, film and TV industries, and to boost engagement and support for Indigenous, South Asian and other artists from diverse communities.