To those who think Canada’s capital is a graveyard for music venues and businesses that cater to them, Byron Pascoe has a message: the industry in Ottawa is alive and well.
“You don’t need to be in Toronto to have a music career in Ontario, either as a musician or a service provider or a company that creates instruments or technology,” says Pascoe, a lawyer at Ottawa-based entertainment law firm Edwards PC, Creative Law and one of the organizers of this weekend’s Music Maker Fair.
The music industry trade show runs this Saturday afternoon at Capital Rehearsal Studios in conjunction with Megaphono, a three-day music festival spotlighting more than 70 artists at locales throughout the city.
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More than 30 local music-related businesses will be showcasing their products and services at the Music Maker Fair – including Tetra Speakers, a company that manufactures high-end electronics for customers around the world, and Bandbiz, which makes software that helps musicians manage their finances.
The event is hosted by Independent Music Business, a group comprised of Pascoe’s firm, Capital Rehearsal Studios and the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition. Founded three years ago, OMIC is a non-profit organization headed by Bluesfest executive director Mark Monahan that now has about 150 members and lobbies governments and other industry partners on their behalf.
“(The local music industry) is definitely growing,” says Pascoe. He says Ottawa’s political and business powers-that-be are starting to take music more seriously as an economic booster, noting city council’s decision last year to budget $100,000 to devise a region-wide music industry economic development strategy in 2018.
Such a strategy was a key recommendation of a provincially funded study three years ago that found Ottawa ranked last among six similarly sized Canadian cities in total numbers of musicians, music businesses and live venues.
Pascoe says initiatives such as Saturday’s music fair aim to dispel the notion that Ottawa is a live music backwater. He says the event will feature a “broad mix” of businesses and other organizations, such as Algonquin College and Carleton University, that offer programs and services catering to musicians.
Pascoe also says he hopes the trade show will open visitors’ eyes to the wide range of opportunities in the local industry.
“You don’t have to be a musician to be in the music business in Ottawa,” he says. “There’s a lot of services that are related to the music industry – not just for people locally, but people provincially, nationally and internationally.
“There are a lot of businesses that are kind of in their own little world in Ottawa that relate to music. Hopefully, with events like these, people can see that there are others out there, interact with them, see what they can do together and be inspired to start their own thing.”
Organizers expect up to 200 people to attend the event, which runs from 12-4 p.m. at Capital Rehearsal Studios, 250 City Centre Ave., No. 202. Admission is free.