I had to take a mental break over the last few days, this dumb blog was taking over my life. Here’s a delayed response to some stuff that has come up over the last few days.
Factor responded, kind of, to this blog in a Globe and Mail article.
“Someone who just picked up a guitar, walked into our office and says ‘I’m ready to go’ can’t just get money.”
I was not arguing that FACTOR should allow musicians to step inside one of those wind boxes for a minute and stuff as much money in their shirt as fast as possible.
But, look at the approvals list, this argument could be shot down at least a hundred times with examples of bands who sound like they just picked up a guitar. WHICH IS FINE. Sometimes bands with rudimentary skills make the most compelling music.
There’s also scant evidence to support Lawton’s claim that insiders are lining their pockets.
We are looking at the same numbers right? The ones that FACTOR makes available on their website? Maybe someone better at spreadsheets/graphs can help me make a visual for this (serious), but the story that the numbers paint for me is a small number of business-class individuals and organizations who are getting the lion’s share of funding, and a long-tail of musicians getting a little. Leading to:
“Money comes in, money goes out,” says Paper Bag Records owner Trevor Larocque. “It’s never my money – I wish.”
I’d actually like to clarify this part a bit: Paper Bag’s 1.5 million dollars of grant money was mostly tied directly to their stable of artists. In other words: FACTOR gave money to a Paper Bag artist for demos, recording, videos and promotional work, touring and so on. All in the name of… selling records. So how is it never Paper Bag’s money again? It is dishonest playing this stuff off like they haven’t benefited from this system.
It is fine that Paper Bag and there stable gets some grant money. It is great that Dan Mangan was able to pull himself through the mud to come out the other side a winner.
But spread it out. Rethink. Think about the politics of giving Metric 20K for a video last month when they are on my Television with that awful BLUE JAYS song every.single.day. Great! FACTOR, you guys did a great job making them into superstars and you should be proud of yourselves for picking a winner. Move on.
One thing I keep hearing in defense of FACTOR funding is that if we eliminate the funding, Canadian music will be swallowed up by our American counterparts, because FACTOR allows Canadian music to stay competitive. The same argument is often made about CanCon requirements.
The truth is grey. Canadian music will still be made and Canadian music will still get popular. Strict USA restrictions make it difficult for Canadian bands to play in the USA (and vice versa). As long as these border restrictions are in place, and as long as there are Canadian musicians, there will be a vibrant Canadian music.
Propping a few dozen bands/labels up with the majority of funding gives them a competitive advantage to ward off American music, but also (and most importantly) Canadian music.
Not sure if the people making the American imperialist argument has been in a record store lately, but this battle was lost years ago. Look at Record Store day this Saturday: out of the giant list of awful exclusive Record store day releases, there are six Canadian acts: Buck 65, Serena Ryder, Billy Talent, Tegan and Sara, Paper Beat Scissors and an Austra / Gina X collab 7”.
The fear is that we have to lie or obscure the truth because we’ve got to keep this thing going, which is a lie in itself.