Ottawa Music Industry Coalition campaign encourages residents to Love Local Music

By Bradley Turcotte – 

The Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) is turning up the volume on the city’s music scene and implores residents to reclaim the word ‘local’ as a musical badge of honour with a campaign that kicked off on November 25 at The Record Center.

“The Love Local Music campaign is about increasing awareness of the great talent we have who live and work in Ottawa,” explains OMIC General Manager Nik Ives-Allison.

OMIC General Manager Nik Ives-Allison and Kitchissippi Councillor Jeff Leiper at the launch of the Love Local Music campaign. Photo by Bradley Turcotte

As part of the initiative, six diverse playlists featuring Ottawa artists are streaming now on via Spotify. A podcast covering local music news will launch in January. Nik will co-host the show with Joel Elliott of Jumpin’ Joel Flash.

The City’s 2018 draft budget includes $100,000 for the implementation of The Ottawa Music Strategy, a project which has been taking shape since the summer of 2017. The City expects the strategy to launch in January 2018.

Key areas for improvement include industry and professional development, Nik says.

“We’re a smaller music industry and being able to bring us closer so that we can improve the way we’re collaborating and communicating across the divide with the industry in Gatineau, increase awareness and promote tourism, getting local artists performing outside the city and professional development for artists so they better understand the business side [are components of the strategy.]”

Ottawa singer/guitarist/harmonicist, Catriona Sturton, performed at the campaign launch. Her songs explored her love of poutine, her affinity for Produce Depot and how she considers Carling and Maitland the city’s most romantic intersection. Photo by Bradley Turcotte

Kitchissippi Ward City Councillor, Jeff Leiper, spoke at the campaign kickoff. As a music fan and champion of the local industry, Jeff sits on the music strategy’s task force. Citing Ottawa’s recent attempt to woo Amazon to the city, he says a thriving arts scene is essential to attracting industry giants to the capital.

“The kinds of workers that we want to attract to Ottawa are seeking to live in places that have really vibrant cultural landscapes. If you’re a 25-year-old… who is coming out of Waterloo or Stanford… you can work anywhere in the world… they want to live in a cool city. My hope with the music strategy is to bolster some of those elements.”

Ottawa needs a mid-sized concert venue and a professional ecosystem of lawyers, accountants, and other entertainment-specific professionals to realize our music scene’s potential, Jeff adds.

Powergoats band member, Jamie Douglas, attended the launch and applauds the city for increasing funding to the arts in the draft budget, with total annual cultural funding projected at $11.3 million in 2018.

Jamie agrees with the mandate of the Love Local Music campaign, as the local music industry is very self-aware but most Ottawa residents “couldn’t even name three local artists or bands who record their own music.”

“There is an enormous surplus of talent in this city that still isn’t getting the exposure it deserves,” Jamie says. “Our local mainstream media – radio, television, and print – still don’t get this, even as it suffocates from its own increasing irrelevance. I feel that improvement is needed in reinforcing the connection between the local music industry itself and your average music listener.”

A not-for-profit, membership-based organization, OMIC’s board of directors includes Bluesfest Director Mark Monahan and Kelp Music’s John Bartlett.

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