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Ghettotizing Cancon

GATINEAU, QUEBEC (CelebrityAccess MediaWire) — In Dec, 2006, as a result of its commercial radio policy review, the

Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC)

announced that radio licensees would now be asked to make specific

commitments to provide airplay for and to promote emerging Canadian


However, the Commission declined to define “an emerging Canadian


With Commission holding a public hearing commencing Dec. 3, 2007 in

Gatineau, Quebec to consider applications for a local FM station, the

Commission as well as individual private radio broadcasters, and

industry associations have been scrambling since summer to come up

with a definition that satisfies all parties.

No clear winner has yet emerged.

At the same time, as a result of the CRTC decision, as well as urging

from Canada’s private radio broadcasters, two iniatives have been

launched to try to boost the emerging artist sector. While criteria

has been established to determine eligibility in both cases, neither

is intended to be used for regulatory purposes by the CRTC.

On Nov. 6, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records

(FACTOR) launched its Emerging Artist Program. As well, Billboard

magazine is slated to debut an Emerging Canadian Artist chart as part

of its Canada Update electronic newsletter along with its recently-

launched Canadian Hot 100 chart.

FACTOR’s Emerging Artist Program is intended to support grassroots

artists whose careers have started to emerge at both the national

and/or international level. The program is funded through Canadian

Content Development (CCD) dollars paid to FACTOR from Canada’s

private radio broadcasters.

Funds will be provided through the production component where FACTOR

will provide up to 50% of the eligible budget to a maximum of $35,000

and the marketing and promotion component will provide up to $50,000

in funding to support the sound recording.

FACTOR’s emerging artist requirements are:

1. The applicant must be a Canadian Citizen(s), landed

immigrant(s), or a Canadian owned or controlled company.

2.The artist must be a Canadian Citizen(s) or landed


3. The applicant must own or control the copyright in the

master recording for which funding is being requested.

4. The artist must have previously sold, on their most recent

release, a minimum of: 3,500 units for Pop/Rock/AC; 2,000 units for

Urban/Country/Folk/Electronica; 1,500 units for

World/Classical/Blues/Aboriginal/Jazz and/or had a song on the Top 40

BDS National Chart

5. Once an artist has sold in excess of 150,000 copies of a

sound recording, they are no longer eligible to apply to the program.

6.A maximum of two sound recording loans are available per

artist in the lifetime of the program.

For more than a decade, Nielsen BDS/BDS Radio Canada have been

producing meaningful charts and research. It is the sole provider of

airplay tracking for Billboard. Its Emerging Canadian Artist

definition and qualification system is based on the Billboard

Canadian Hot 100 chart. The critera is:

1.Artist must be Canadian.

2. Selection must qualify as Canadian Content.

3a. Artist is considered emerging up until 12 months after

the date the artist’s first selection reaches the Top 40 on the

Billboard Canadian Hot 100.

3b. For Country titles, the full 100-position Billboard

Canadian Hot 100 chart is employed.

4.Prior to the debut of the Canadian Hot 100 on June 7, 2007

the designation for Emerging Artist will follow the historic CRTC

regulations for Hit and Non-hit. Therefore, the artist is

disqualified if they had a title on the following charts: Billboard

Country chart, Billboard Hot 100 Singles, Canadian Music Network

National Airplay, and Canadian Music Network Country Top 50 Audience.

Prior to 2001, The Record Retail Singles and RPM 100 Country Tracks.

5. Once an artist has a title that is disqualified under point

3 or 4, their entire catalogue is disqualified.

There are considerable flaws in the FACTOR emerging artist definition

is and in what BDS proposes, affecting both the recording industry

and the private broadcaster community.

For broadcasters, it is problematical that outside sources, and not

the CRTC, will be essentially setting the terms of what is or not an

emerging artist. Once codified with use over time, the Commission may

look to the chart positions as a condition of license for stations.

Also, today's chart ranking scenario is not comparable to two decades

ago when the Commission had multiple charts to determine hit-to-non-

hit status. Chart numbers today do not reflect true emerging artist

status anymore, considering the importance of touring and varied non

-traditional platforms available for sales.

As well, an act might have a really good week at radio and retail–

resulting in posting a high chart number. But how consistent is that?

They might even have a good radio/retail run on a single track. But

if sales of an album aren’t sustained or if follow-up tracks do not

register as well, an album might still tank. However, the artist

would no longer be listed as an emerging artist after 12 months

because of the one week posting.

These artists may then be caught in a netherland—not hit makers nor

emerging artists—and radio will ignore them.

Stephanie Friedman, GM of Nielsen BDS says the Emerging Artist chart

was developed after consultation with “all of the stakeholders.” She

adds, “This is a definition from BDS and not the industry. But I

consulted with a variety of people in the industry.

“There was energy moving this forward,” she continues. “It is not

intended to polarize the industry. There were requests for assistance

concerning the fact that the Commission obligated broadcasters to

produce research on this. Billboard stepped up with the new chart

after a lot of input.”

Despite Friedman’s firm assertion, many key players in the industry

felt they weren’t fully consulted before the announcement of the new

BDS-based chart. They are scornful by the criteria being used.

Any separate chart for emerging Canadian acts ghettoizes and

stigmatizes Canadians. It's a throwback to yesterday’s "Beaver Hour"

at radio and "Beaver Bins" at music retail in Canada.