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  • Dan Duguay

Calgary Music Office: A concentrated effort to create a Music City.

Lethbridge artist takes part in the Soundoff Summit in Calgary. Hosted by Music Calgary
Shaela Miller Performs at Ranchman's in Calgary

I started this article a few weeks back before the West Anthem Report was released. Turns out we had some similar ideas…

For as long as I've lived in Calgary, It has wanted to be a music city.

Calgary as “Nashville of the North” was a phrase, long before the Stampede used it as a name for one of their venues.

Is it a music city? I suppose if we’re asking the question and making reports on how to be one, it's probably not.

I've been immersed in Calgary's "music scene" for 25 years or so. Probably more intensively the last 7 or 8 years as a result of a quest to find support.

There are many reasons Calgary wants to be a music city. For every reason, there's probably an organization that wants to help Calgary in its quest to be a music city. Many institutions could benefit from Calgary being known for live music.

These are the organizations that I'm aware of, that have an interest in local live music in Calgary:

  1. Calgary Arts Development Authority

  2. Calgary Downtown Association

  3. Calgary Central Library

  4. Calgary Municipal Land Corporation

  5. Tourism Calgary

  6. Telus Convention Centre

  7. Calgary Economic Development

  8. The Calgary Stampede (BMO Centre)

  9. The Arts Commons

  10. West Anthem (National Music Centre)

  11. Calgary Musicians Association

  12. Bird Creative

  13. The Music Mile

  14. Music Calgary

  15. Alberta Music

  16. Calgary Hotels Association

  17. Multiple Property Management companies such as Brookfield, Aspen Properties, Cadillac Fairview and Quadreal.

  18. Calgary International Airport

  19. Booking agents such as PM Gigs, Curbside Concerts, Fuze Entertainment, Urban Productions,Stampede Entertainment, Stagehand, Brooks Creations, RJWA Music.

  20. YYC Music Awards

  21. Calgary Folk Festival

  22. JazzYYC

  23. Sled Island

  24. East Town Get Down

  25. Inglewood Night Market

  26. Lilac Festival

  27. Cspace

  28. and to round it out, I counted nearly 100 small live music venues that use musicians as a draw.

That’s 130+ businesses or organizations wanting live music to thrive in the city.

Local Calgary music venue hosts live music 7 nights a week
The Brother Bicker Band perform at Mikey's on 12th in Calgary

Each one of the listed organizations has their own agendas and their own way of dealing with music and musicians. It remains a proprietary industry. With the proverbial left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing.

MY SOLUTION: The Calgary Music Office (or CMO instead of BMO).

I came up with the idea from the Texas Music Office which has been in existence since 1990 and has shown to have improved the musical landscape of that state. I suppose an Alberta Music Office would make sense (Is that what West Anthem is?), but we could start at a micro level and look to expand later. I live in Calgary and know this place best. So why not start with a Calgary Music Office?

A governmental office that assists in the development of music in the state of Texas
Texas Music Office emblem

A Calgary Music Office could help eliminate redundancy and assist these organizations in doing what they do best. Work to make it more useful to musicians, more democratic, and more inclusive. A vehicle to make all the above organizations better. Coordinated, and easier for everyone to know what the others are doing. A concentrated effort could give us:

  • Music representation at all the civic tables

  • One central musician's directory

  • One stop for questions or directions

  • One stop for recording studios

  • One stop for music lessons

  • One stop for artist development guidance

  • One stop for music event listing (If you're not aware of Savage Craic's social media page, it gives a comprehensive list of live music in the city)

  • A central promotion

  • A place to guide newcomers

  • A place to support buskers (The most DEI art form we have)

  • An open source for knowledge

  • Incentives to engage in local music (both live and recorded)

  • A place where professional musicians can find help

  • A memorandum page to honour the great musicians that have left us.

  • A place where we can focus on exporting our musicians

  • A space to create Calgary music playlists (incentivize retail and public spaces to use the playlists)

  • A place to promote to the rest of the world, all the music Calgary offers

CMO-Calgary Music Office

Dan has made his living as a performer for over 3 decades.
Dan the One Man Band busks on the street in Santa Cruz California.

I would be keen to be a Music Officer for Calgary in its efforts to be a Music City. If you know me, you know I came to the city as a musician to earn a living, and that's what I've done, for over 30 years. I would be happy to help other musicians in that quest and in the process make Calgary known for its live music.

Perhaps another institution to assist live music seems conter productive, but I believe there's sense in establishing a Calgary Music Office.

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