Canadian Independent Recording Artists

The Canadian Independent Music Association, which was formerly called the Canadian Independent Record Production Association, maintains a non-for-profit division to offer support, information, and education to musicians. MusicOntario works to promote Ontario and Canadian musicians, facilitate access to international and home opportunities, and educate and inform the community. Notable members of the association include the Sultans of String, Soul Motion Artists, Sidney York, The Jessica Stuart Few, and others.

CIMA, Programs, and Funding Bodies

CIMA or the Canadian Independent Music Association offers support to performers, songwriters, and emerging artists who are looking for performance opportunities, marketing ideas, and sources of revenue. The association also engages in advocacy and is represented on a number of committees and boards to show support for programs and policies that benefit the music industry. The goal is to facilitate the development and implementation of provincial and federal programs that offer funding opportunities to independent artists.  Funding bodies and organizations include the Radio Starmaker Fund, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Canada Council for the Arts, Unison Benevolent Fund, and others. The Ontario Media Development Corporation, for example, offers funding to interactive digital media and producers across different industries such as magazines, books, music, television, and film. The Canada Council for the Arts is another funding body that offers arts promotion activities as well as prizes, endowments, and grants.

Events and Opportunities

The association also features events, programs, and festivals that offer opportunities for professional growth and development. Examples are the Tallinn Music Week, Toronto Arts Foundation Awards, CCMA Discovery Program, and the Wavelength Music Festival. The CCMA Discovery Program is open to Canadian artists who are looking for mentorship opportunities. The Tallinn Music Week is organized in Tallinn, Estonia as an annual event that features a music industry conference and a festival. International and Estonian musicians perform across a diverse range of genres.

The Canadian Independent Music Association also provides support to artists eager to participate in the Canada Blast events – Halifax Pop Explosion, Music Tech Summit and Mission, A2IM Indie Week, Australian Music Week, and others. Only artists who meet certain criteria will be considered, and those who have previously participated in major events do not qualify. Artists who have a digital release or an album meet the criteria provided that they have a Canadian team comprised of an agent, publishing company, manager, label, and so on. Landed immigrants and Canadian citizens are welcome to perform at the Canada Blast events.

Team and Partners

CIMA offers support for collective and individual activities and initiatives and consists of marketing experts, consultants, publicists, showcase producers, and other professionals. The membership base includes artists, directors, video producers, managers, recording studios, record labels, as well as record producers. MusicOntario, CIMA’s membership-based unit offers music industry education and support and focuses on professional development, marketing, networking activities, industry promotion, and advocacy. The division also offers a partnership discount program, networking opportunities, e-blasts, and workshops.

The association works in cooperation with partners such as Music Yukon, Music Ontario, East Coast Music, the Radio Starmaker Fund, Canada Factor, and many others. CIMA’s partner, CORUS Entertainment is a broadcasting and media company which offers sponsorship and corporate donations. Music Yukon works to support Yukon artists and facilitate the distribution, sale, and production of recordings and music.

Notable Members

A Toronto-based instrumental music band, Sultans of String plays music featuring elements of different genres – Cuban, Arabic folk, Spanish flamenco, and others. The group has been nominated for a number of awards during the years, including the Canadian Folk Music Award, World Group of the Year, Folk Music Ontario, and Festivals & Events Ontario, among others. The Jessica Stuart Few is also a member of CIMA and a Toronto-based rock, soul, R&B, and Indie group. Other CIMA members include artists, bands, and labels such as the Liberty Music Services, Howling Turtle, NJ Taylor, and the Bobby Curtola Entertainment Group. The membership base also includes categories such as music publishing groups, funding organizations, cultural agencies, collectives, booking agents, management, and digital media.

Starting a Rehearsal Music Studio in Canada

It is not too difficult to start a rehearsal music studio business in Canada, but there are some challenges to overcome, including sources of financing for the initial investment, a sound business plan, competitors, and other considerations.

Your Customers

There are three types of customers for a rehearsal music studio – hobby, commercial, and recording artists. The first are interested in renting to record songs and music for pleasure and enjoyment. Commercial artists record marketing content, voiceovers, commercials, and other types of commercial content. Recording artists are mainly interested in sales and distribution.

Type of Business

The main types are cooperative, corporation, partnership, and sole proprietorship. A partnership or a sole proprietorship is usually a good choice for a rehearsal music studio. Think of a business name and location and contact the local authorities to inquire about any permits and licenses they require. You will need music studio equipment such as microphone stands, cables, studio monitors, headphones and microphones, audio interface, computers, and anything else you can think of. A digital audio station is also a good investment.

Borrowing to Finance the Venture

Depending on the equipment you plan to buy, you may need start-up capital of $100,000 or more (see here). One idea is to check whether you meet the criteria for funding under the Canada Small Business Financing Program. As long as you plan to buy new or used technology and equipment, you meet the criteria. Registration fees and the purchase of buildings are also covered. If you fail to qualify or require additional financing, you can always apply with a private lender, whether a big bank, your credit union, or your local bank. They offer secured and unsecured loans (see here), depending on the amount required, whether you are willing to offer collateral, your business credit score (see here), whether you are a new or regular customer, etc. The interest rate can be higher than government financing, but unions usually offer affordable rates. Other options include peer to peer networks, angel investors, a loan by a relative or family member, and local and national economic development organizations. Look into different tax financing options, small business grants, smart leases, and other ways to finance your rehearsal music studio.

Business Plan

It is a good idea to include an executive summary in your business plan and highlight the fact that you plan to invest in the latest technology and equipment. Describe your customer base (corporate organizations, musicians, etc.) and your competition. You may want to include a description of your services as well, for example, sound and music consultancy, production of music or audio books, production and recording of soundtracks and jingles, studio sessions, music recording, and so on. Your business plan must include details such as your business structure and mission statement, roles and responsibilities, target market, and marketing trends. When it comes to your business structure, you can have a front desk officer, accountant, HR manager, recording engineer, studio manager, legal secretary, and chief executive officer. Describe your target market and potential customers as well, for example, authors and upcoming artists, TV and radio stations, churches, advertising agencies, and record labels.  There are other pieces of information to cover in your business plan, including weaknesses and strengths, competitive advantages, sales forecast, sources of income, and payment options and pricing and marketing strategies. You can list different payment options such as cash, bank draft, check, online bank transfer, and standard bank transfer. The more details you include in your business plan, the better your chances to qualify for financing.