Exclusive: An Interview With Marina Adam From The Ontario Music Office

By: Kat Harlton
Photos: OMDC

The Ontario Media Development Corporation’s (OMDC) Ontario Music Fund is behind many of the Ontario musicians and companies that continue to support, promote and build a world-class music industry.

Ontario music by the numbers:

The Ontario Music Fund provides more than $14M to music companies across Ontario’s diverse music ecosystem each year.

The Ontario Music Fund annually supports close to 150 music companies and since 2013 has supported 5.6 million domestic recordings and more than 7 million internationally.

Ontario generates 79 per cent of Canada’s total music industry revenue.

We had the opportunity to speak with Marina Adam the Manager for the Ontario Music Office about how money is spent, what other provinces can learn from Ontario, and how women can continue to push barriers in the Canadian music industry.

Kat: The Ontario Music Fund provides more than $14M to music companies across Ontario’s diverse music ecosystem each year, can you explain a little as to how that money is used?

MA: One of the main objectives of the Ontario Music Fund (OMF) is to increase the Ontario music industry’s economic and cultural footprint both domestically and internationally. The OMF supports activities like touring, marketing and promotion, so Ontario music companies can ‎send their artists to international markets, and market and promote them abroad to raise their profile all over the world.

OMF funding has supported groups and artist performance tours in Canada and internationally. Max Kerman of Arkells has said that OMF funding allowed them to tour at larger venues than ever before using technical talent that helped them deliver top-quality performances.

The OMF also provides Ontario music organizations with funding to organize trade missions to key international markets to create business opportunities for music companies and the artists they support.

Kat: It was stated that Ontario generates 79 per cent of Canada’s total music industry revenue, so what can other provinces or even countries learn from that success?

MA: The creative industries are important economic drivers in the Canadian economy. ‎We’re so fortunate in Canada, and in particular Ontario, to have significant government investments, like the Ontario music fund, that recognize the positive impact that a thriving creative sector has on the economy.

The OMF is focused on building strong music companies that have a competitive edge both domestically and internationally. We’ve seen that relatively modest investments can have a powerful impact on Ontario music companies’ ability to grow and contribute back to the province’s economy by creating jobs, increasing revenues and growing music industry activity in the province.

OMDC’s OMF Team- Noah Gruneir, Kristine Murphy, Ryan Clancy, Marina Adam, Aisha Wickham, Michelle Holtzkener, Mark Watts and Lia Kyranis

Kat: As the manager of the Ontario Music Office, do you have any advice for young women looking to eventually end up in a role involved in the Canadian music business?

MA: There can be barriers for women in traditionally male-dominated industries, like music. But that doesn’t mean we can’t break them down. It’s important for young women to arm themselves with knowledge and be aware of resources out there that they can take advantage of, including but not limited to grants and funding programs. There are also a number of industry organizations that offer learning opportunities that can help new entrants into the industry best position themselves for success. Volunteering at music industry events and festivals etc. is a great way to gain experience, build networks, and get an idea of who the players are and how the industry works. I think it’s also important to not limit oneself. While it’s good to have an idea of where we want to end up, the path isn’t always a direct one, and opportunities that may not look promising on the surface can often turn out to be surprisingly rewarding.

Finally, don’t buy into biases and stereotypes about roles in the industry that are typically and traditionally held by men. For example, women who have an interest in the technical side of the music industry in areas like production and sound engineering should absolutely pursue it. There is zero truth to the assertion that women “aren’t suited to” technical roles. We need to see more women in these roles to challenge and debunk the outdated stereotypes.

Kat: This year’s Juno Awards Fan Choice category includes a hotbed of superstar musical talent. Of the nine nominees, seven are made-in-Ontario musicians including Alessia Cara, Arkells, Justin Bieber, Jessie Reyez, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd and Walk off the Earth. In your opinion, what is it about Ontario that continues to create such superstar musical talent?

MA: It’s inspiring for the music community in Ontario to see the province so well-represented at the Junos. It further demonstrates that Ontario is Canada’s music hub and is a terrific place to do business, develop talent and produce world-class music that resonates at home and on the international stage.

Ontario’s diversity is a huge advantage and plays a significant role in the success and profile of our home-grown talent. Our artists come from a wide variety of backgrounds and communities, and the stories they tell through the music they create can reach and engage fans and audiences all over the world.

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