OTTAWA — Canada needs a 21st century reboot of the way it markets its music talent domestically and internationally, the head of a trade organization that represents this country's top labels says.
Graham Henderson, president of Music Canada, told delegates Friday at a joint Canada-France forum on the future of digital content that despite a number of "mid-course corrections," policy and business are still mostly stuck in the analog age.
"We've kind of drifted to this point. The industry's drifted, the government's drifted," he said. "We're dealing with industrial strategies that were put in place 20 years ago."
Henderson said new copyright laws are helping shore up an industry battered by the shift in the way fans purchase, pirate and consume music — but there's still work to do.
"Legislation in and of itself doesn't change markets. People change markets, business changes markets," he said.
According to figures from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, over 50% of Canadians streamed audio online last year.
In Canada in 2011, the purchase of digital music generated $129.9 million in sales while hard copies generated $197.5 million. Henderson noted this year, for the first time ever, digital revenues are expected to overtake those from the sale of CDs and vinyl records.
He suggested boosting the financial support of music education, improving the tax credit structure, focusing on promoting Canadian talent worldwide and championing Canada as a music tourist destination as possible planks in the new strategy.
"All those things will have an incalculable effect," he said.
On his wish list is also to have advertisements pulled off sites that pirate creative content.
"If we can find a way to get legitimate advertising off illegitimate sites, it will change the ecosystem overnight," he said.
Some 60 industry leaders, academics and policy-makers gathered in Ottawa for the two-day forum, where they fleshed out ideas for business models to leverage opportunities for film, TV and music in the new media realm.
A final policy paper will be produced at the end of the summit and presented to the Canadian and French governments.
The Information and Communications Technology Council — a research, market intelligence and policy centre for the digital economy — is co-hosting the event along with the Embassy of France. Quebecor Media, which owns QMI Agency and Sun Media, is one of its sponsors.