Given the flood of COVID-19 news and information that continues to roll across social and mainstream media channels, here are some COVID-19 music industry resources and information you may have missed in the past few weeks to help Canadian artists and music businesses financially impacted by lost gigs, cancelled tours, mandatory closures, and other economic trauma caused by the coronavirus.

Please review the information below in case it may be of any assistance. Royal City Studios is staying abreast of the situation as it pertains to the music industry across Canada, and we urge everyone to stay as safe and healthy as possible during these stressful and uncertain days.

Note: The resources listed below remain in effect as of April 2, 2020. Changes may have occurred since the publication of this blog.

Financial Resources/Relief

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

To support local businesses and individuals, the Government of Canada announced the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which includes the following:

  • A 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses (for up to three months, retroactive to March 15th, 2020) to hep keep and return workers to the payroll. Eligibility criteria will begin with the impact of COVID-19 on a company’s sales, and further details will be shared soon by the government.
  • Deferred Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) until June 2020, for businesses (including self-employed individuals), as well as deferred customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses to help them continue paying employees and their bills and help ease cash-flow challenges.
  • Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises, a program by Export Development Canada to help small and medium-size businesses with new operating credit and cash-flow term loans.
  • More time to pay incomes taxes. Businesses owing 2019 income tax payments (which become owing on or after March 18th and before September 2020) will be allowed to defer payments until August 31st. No interest or penalties will accumulate on amounts owing during this period. This relief applies to tax balances due as well as instalments under Part I of the Income Tax Act.
  • A moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans. Effective March 30th, 2020, students, recent graduates, and loan borrowers are not required to repay Canada Student Loans for six months. Interest will not accrue during this time and students do not need to apply for the repayment pause.

Increased FACTOR Funding

On March 31st, 2020, FACTOR announced increased funding. Grant programs previously funded at 50% will now be funded at 75%. This affects the following FACTOR programs:

  • Collective Initiatives: Industry Events and Showcase Production for Export-Ready Artists
  • Comprehensive Artist: Sound Recording, Marketing
  • Comprehensive Music Company: Sound Recording, Marketing
  • Marketing and Promotion for Non-FACTOR-funded Sound Recordings: Marketing
  • Support for Eligible Music Companies: Business Development, Business Travel, Songwriter Support for Music Publishers

Canada Council for the Arts

Although the Canada Council for the Arts is presently operating at a reduced capacity, the Council is processing grant payments as usual. As well:

  • The Council is currently working with the federal government on practical and immediate ways to help the arts sector face the economic challenges of COVID-19.
  • For artists not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI), the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (a provision of the Canadian government) will provide a taxable benefit of $2000 a month (for up to four months) to self-employed individuals (including contract workers) who are not eligible for EI.

If you’re uncertain about whether you qualify for EI, contact Service Canada to determine you eligibility.

COVID-19 questions for the Canada Council can be sent to [email protected].

Ontario Arts Council

Per its COVID-19 FAQs and Guidelines page, the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is committed to continuing with the intake of grant applications and the payment of awarded grants. Should any significant service disruptions or delays occur in the OAC’s activities, updates will be provided on their website.

The OAC’s COVID-19 page also includes links to provincial and national arts service organizations providing guides and resources specific to their sectors, including:

  • The AFC, helping Canadian entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity, and ability to work
  • Artscape, a group or non-profit organizations dedicated to making space for creativity and transforming communities
  • The Canadian Independent Music Association (CIMA), the not-for-profit national trade association representing the national interests of the Canadian-owned independent music industry while providing services for the economic benefit of its membership.

MusiCares

A non-profit organization established by the National Academy or Recording Arts and Science (now known as the Recording Academy), MusiCares has expanded its services to include lost artist income due to cancellation of scheduled gigs or performances due to COVID-19 precautionary measures. Initial grant requests can be made up to $1000 to compensate for cancelled work.

Music Manager Forum Canada

A non-profit trade association representing a collective voice for Canadian music managers and self-managed artists, Music Manager Forum Canada offers a thorough resources page (constantly being updated) that includes:

Facebook Small Business Grants Program

Through its Small Business Grants Program, Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where Facebook operates.

Unison Benevolent Fund

A non-profit, registered charity that provides counselling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community, the Unison Benevolent Fund offers counselling to help artists financially and/or emotionally impacted by COVID-19. Call 1-855-986-4766.

For emergency financial assistance inquiries, Unison carefully reviews requests and circumstances within the context of finding the best way to help artists through this difficult time, and Unison does not make payments directly to applicants, with the understanding that Unison resources are limited and are allocated in ways to best support as many individuals as possible.

Sue Richards Artist Relief Fund (Guelph Arts Council)

Created to assist artists unable to work due to health issues, the Sue Richards Artist Relief Fund provides emergency financial relief to local artists living with debilitating health issues. The Guelph Arts Council (administrators of the fun) provides funds within the limits of the annual available funds.

Toronto Musicians’ Association

In response to the economic needs of its membership, the Toronto Musicians’ Association (TMA149) has suspended all membership late fees, penalties, and reinstatement fees. This means that, if you fall behind on dues, you’ll be able to bring your membership up to good standing by simply paying for missing quarterly membership fees. Also, TMA149 has extended the deadline to pay 2020 Life Membership from April 1st, 2020 to December 31st, 2020.

Additionally, members who have been diagnosed with or tested positive for COVID-19 may apply for support from the TMA149 Health Benefit and Extended Health Benefit, as well as the Federation’s Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund for Disabled Musicians.

TOArtist COVID Response Fund

To assist Toronto artists, the Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council introduced the TOArtist COVID Response Fund, which allocates up to $1000 to self-employed resident Toronto artists whose creative work and income have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications will be accepted any time between March 23rd and 11:59 p.m. on April 30th, 2020. If you are eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, you are not eligible for the TOArtist COVID Response Fund.

PayPal (Fees Waived Until April 30, 2020)

If you use PayPal to receive music sales income from platforms like Bandcamp, PayPal is now offering the following:

  • PayPal is waiving chargeback fees for merchants if a customer files a dispute with their credit card issuer between March 26th, 2020 and April 30th, 2020.
  • PayPal is waiving fees to instantly withdraw money from a PayPal business account to a bank account or Visa Debit card through to April 30th, 2020. (Eligible debit cards or bank accounts only. Limits and holds may apply.)
  • PayPal is also extending its customer dispute resolution period from 10 to 20 days through to Aril 30th, 2020.

PayPal is also extending Seller Protection to cover eligible digital goods starting April 13th, 2020 with no expiration. PayPal Seller Protection covers sellers in the event of claims, chargebacks, or reversals that are a result of unauthorized purchases or items your buyer didn’t receive. For all transactions made on or after April 13th, 2020, Seller Protection will be extended to intangible items such as travel, ticketing, services and digital goods. To find out more about these policy changes, visit the PayPal page.

Business/Artist Information

Leaders Helping Leaders

Anyone in the music business faces the same question right now as any business: “How can I survive the economic impact of COVID-19?” To help businesses navigate the crisis, Innovation Guelph began a series of online sessions—Leaders Helping Leaders—on April 1st, 2020 to help businesses maintain momentum and leverage opportunities. This series (via Zoom, meaning no software required) will be presented twice weekly for the next three weeks. The series is free, but registration is required.

Bandzoogle: How musicians can ask fans for support during the coronavirus pandemic

This informative article by Bandzoogle includes tips on how to use your email list effectively, music sales channels to maximize revenue, and live-streaming recommendations to monetize broadcasts through payment services like Venmo and PayPal.

Support/Relief Organizations

MusicOntario

MusicOntario’s COVID-19 Information & Resources for Ontario’s Music Industry page includes a broad range of relief information and resources covering the holistic needs of artists, from support information for seniors to Canada Child Benefit information. MusicOntario also includes community content, streaming events, and other information that may be helpful.

I Lost My Gig (Canada)

Incubated by ArtsPond, I Lost My Gig (Canada) is a Facebook support group for artists and other vulnerable freelance and gig workers in Canada and beyond to share resources and stories addressing the economic impact of COVID-19.

World Independent Network

As a global support body for the independent sector, the World Independent Network (WIN) provides a list of resources to help those impacted by music sales losses, concert cancellations, conferences, and other activities. WIN’s COVID-19 resources page is searchable by country and region. The page also includes links to WIN’s social channels, where the organization promotes local independent music playlists, streaming events put in place of cancelled ones, or any other action that can help mitigate the financial impact of COVID-19 in the independent sector.

Guelph Coronavirus Community Response

Not affiliated with the city of Guelph, the Guelph Coronavirus Community Response provides listings of where people can find free meals in Guelph, as well as links to other resources, including Care for Pets and local stores offering options for grocery delivery in observance of physical distancing.

Music Business Operational Changes

SOCAN Moving to All-Digital Documents and Direct Deposit Payments

To help safeguard public health, and to ensure continued expeditious service, SOCAN is removing as many paper transactions as possible to avoid the need for members to handle paper documents.

Going forward:

  • Work registrations and concert notifications must be submitted via your online SOCAN member account. Work registrations can be submitted in the My Catalogue section and concert notifications can be submitted in the SOCAN Forms section.
  • Royalty cheques are no longer being issued. You must sign up for direct deposit (if you haven’t already). Direct deposit information can be entered or updated in the SOCAN forms section in your SOCAN member online account.
  • Royalty statements are only available online. (Paper statements will no longer be mailed.) To sign up for online statements, log into your account and select “Sign up for online statements” under My Statements on your home page. Once activated, you can view and download statements in the My Royalties section.
  • Publishing agreements must be submitted via email with digital scans or photos. (Paper agreements will no longer be accepted.) Submit agreement letters to [email protected]. Submit administration agreements to [email protected].

Reproduction Rights Clients:

  • Royalty payment cheques for reproduction rights are no longer being issued. You need to sign up for direct deposit. Reproduction rights clients cannot sign up online. For a modified process, contact [email protected].
  • Reproduction rights documents (sign-up and transfer forms, notifications, or agreement submissions) must be submitted via email. (Paper documents will no longer be accepted.) Please email all documents as digital scans or photos to [email protected].

If you do not have a SOCAN online account, sign up here.

Although this blog is by no means an exhaustive list of COVID-19 music industry resources and information you may have missed, we hope that it provides you with navigational points, should you feel overwhelmed or even lost right now.

Royal City Studios will be updating this resources list in the days ahead to keep it as current as possible to the ever-changing COVID-19 crisis. If you know of a resource that we have missed, please let us know.

In however you may be financially impacted by COVID-19, please remember one thing to assist you financially, mentally, and emotionally.

Crises (as difficult as they can be) provide you with the chance to study two questions:

“What will happen to me?” versus “What can I become?”

While the first question is based in understandable fear, the second looks forward, shows opportunities, and always provides hope and guidance through personal and economic uncertainty.

As marketer Jeff Walker recently said in his recent In Times of Turmoil video, you may not have control over the economic trauma sweeping the landscape, but you’re in control of your thoughts. And at the end of the day, your thoughts dictate the actions you take and how you take them. So, take care of your mental game. Pandemics pass, and we’re all going to get through this.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.