Edmonton is known more for hockey than it is for music. Music may not be Edmonton’s main industry, but it doesn’t mean that music in the prairies is dead. Geographically and music-wise, Alberta is far from the music hub of Toronto. Edmonton is 3,475.2 km away from Toronto.
Of all presenting artistic shows throughout Canada, the vast majority is music 94% while theatre (72%), young audience/family shows (71%), dance (66%), comedy/humour (64%), and school audiences (K-12) (61%) make up the rest of Canada’s performing arts.
“The Edmonton music scene doesn’t have a huge reputation,” Michelle Langevin, co-owner and general manager of Yeg Music explains, “and certainly is not on par with cities like Toronto or Montreal. And that’s mainly due to venues”.
To compare, Toronto has 60 while Montreal has 110 live music venues. These include performance halls that are primarily for music. Less than 20 of Edmonton’s music venues are just music venues which account for less than 10% of all Edmonton’s live music venues.
Venues are able to be a range of types and aren’t limited to the traditional concert hall. These can include cafes, clubs, halls, listening rooms, restaurants, and bars. This is fairly common across Canada.
As far as Edmonton specifically, Bars and Restaurants also make up 21% while Community Centers (8.9%), Outdoor (4.6%), Places of Worship (2.4%), Schools or universities (1%), Nightclub (0.8%), Cafes (1.9%), Performing Arts Venues (3.2%) Theatre (4/9%) lag behind each less than 10%.
“Musicians-wise, talent-wise, Edmonton has a pretty good grip on that. I don’t think that’s our issue. It’s just kind of the spacing of our city, and there are different things that play into it. We’re getting really close to that level of Montreal or Toronto.” Langevin said,
One kind of venue that seems to be overlooked is places where minors can attend and perform. Not many venues cater to minors. Many live music venues are 18+. Of Edmonton’s live music venues, 80 (21.9%) are open to minors leaving 284 venues where minors are prohibited.
“I find it can be quite discouraging when you see a venue and think ‘I want to play there’ and ah it’s 18+,” Admits Veronica Pineapples a young Edmonton musician, “It’s hard to find venues that are all ages.”
Veronica Pineapples has been performing music in Edmonton since she was a young girl. The limitations of all-ages venues limited her ability not only to enjoy music but to perform it as well. (Google Map Link)
“All ages shows are really really important. They are important for the lifestyle of its fans. We need to be growing our fans, we need to encourage young people to interact with live music,” Benjamin describes.
Benjamin’s sentiments are backed up by statistics. A report from culture Days found that 57% of participants said they attended more arts events and cultural activities throughout the year because of previous participation. https://culturedays.ca/ab
Music venues have a benefit more than just entertainment. Live music venues are venues that facilitate musicians by having a place for solo artists and bands to perform but also for the audience to interact. The importance of these venues, in particular, is not only for the music industry but for the quality of life for each and every citizen. The vast majority of Canadians (77%), agree that art helps them interact and connect with their community.
“The live music industry should be regarded as such. As an industry with the ability to create jobs and generate significant economic impact and draw tourists to the province.” describes Benjamin, “Live music venues are critically important to the quality of life of every city and town from coast to coast”.