HR Study 2010

> HR Trends and Issues

Music and Sound Recording - Highlights

Purchase all three documents that make up HR Study 2010 in a printable electronic format

The HR Study 2010 package contains: HR Trends and Issues, Labour Market Information for Canada's Cultural Sector and The Effect of the Global Economic Recession on Canada's Creative Economy in 2009.

Fast Facts

The real value added output (GDP) of the music domain in 2009 was estimated to be $372 million.
Canadian consumer spending on music was $1.5 billion in 2008 while exports for the same year totaled $115 million.
Total federal government support for the sound recording subsector was $27 million for 2007/08.
The workforce of the music and sound recording subsector in Canada tends to be characterized as young and from urban areas.
33% earn more than $50,000.
57% of workers are self-employed.
30% have a Graduate or professional designation degree.

Major issues


Technology has changed how music and sound recordings are produced and distributed, as well as how they are acquired by consumers. Technological advances have contributed to the decline in recorded music over the past decade as a source of revenue in the subsector. The growing digitization of music and sound recording products has led to an increased recognition of the importance of multi-revenue streams, such as touring and festivals. Finding effective means of protecting and commercializing intellectual property while pursuing alternative revenue streams is an ongoing challenge for the subsector.

Intellectual Property/Business models/ Monitization

The music and sound recording subsector has experienced a recession of its own for the past 10 years, largely as a result of technological changes to production and distribution models. Changing technologies and subsequent intellectual property issues have substantially eroded the traditional value chain of the music and sound recording subsector. Older, traditional business models in music and sound recording focused on obtaining revenues through the sale of music in a physical format. Now, however, the Internet and the ability to share electronic music files have changed how people earn a living in the music subsector.

Role of public funding

Music and sound recording employer respondents to the survey recognized that dependence on government funding is a key issue for them. Canadian recording companies, for example, are often at least partially dependent on support from public sources, especially in their early days of identifying and developing talent and potential. Changing government spending priorities emphasizes the subsector's need to develop and adapt new business models and establish new value chains with consumers.

Nature of work

Many workers who responded to the survey saw variable and low earnings as key trends and issues for the music subsector. Twenty-two per cent of responding music and sound recording workers reported augmenting their earnings from music and sound recording with work from outside the cultural sector. Even so, only one third (33 per cent) of those working in the subsector were earning more than $50,000 annually. In this light, it is not surprising that some were not setting aside significant savings for their retirement: 18 per cent of responding workers were not saving for their retirement at all, while an additional 12 per cent were saving only through the Canada Pension Plan (Qu├ębec Pension Plan in that province).

Promising Policies, Programs, and Practices

Research participants felt that the music and sound recording subsector in general would benefit from a broad-based, collaborative framework for a music subsector education strategy that involves all stakeholder groups (e.g., Ministries of Education, schools, colleges and universities, music subsector associations, folk arts councils, and the CBC). Such a strategy would help the subsector plan for the future and enhance development initiatives for the next generation of artists, managers and technicians.


  1. Collaborate to help businesses adapt to new business models which include revenue generation through new technologies.

  2. Build technical and entrepreneurial skills through multilevel programs from entry level to advanced.

  3. Provide mentorships in business skills for those entering the music industry.

  4. Develop a national music education strategy that includes national standards, multi-level training for technical and entrepreneurial skills and mentorships.

  5. Ensure that employers and workers in the subsector have knowledge and understanding of copyright legislation as it evolves; and to address intellectual property concerns as technologies emerge and needs change.