Year In Review

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As we round out another year with increasing uncertainty, we're taking a little look back at another unusual and productive year full of exciting projects and stellar local music.

Manitoba artists and music companies earned recognition with 44 awards and 182 nominations for their work, including JUNO Awards, Western Canadian Music Awards, Canadian Folk Music Awards, Trille Or, Summer Solstice Indigenous Music Awards, and the Polaris Music Prize long list. Local artists launched over 250 new music releases—including albums, EPs, and singles. Local artists made plenty of headlines this year, including features and major mentions for media tastemakers. Check out our weekly Signal Boost roundups

We shared our Equity & Accountability Policy, part of our ongoing work to help us contribute to a safer and more equitable music community. The policy has been developed with the ongoing guidance of our Equity Committee under the direction of our Board of Directors, and with the consultation of Anishinaabekwe, lawyer, and visual artist Danielle H. Morrison. We would like to thank Ms. Morrison and the Board members for their wisdom, dedication, and compassionate support. This is a living policy that has been, and will continue to be, shaped through honesty and openness from members of our community. We are grateful to the courageous people who have shared their lived experiences with us. Their bravery and generosity has helped us to develop as an organization rooted in respect, compassion, and transparency.

We launched the Catalyst Music Conference, a new virtual conference focused on connection, creation, community, and professional development for the music industry in Manitoba. Building on the foundation of the long-running January Music Meeting, Catalyst welcomed music industry pros and music creators from around the world to connect with local music makers for specialized and interactive training.

Indigenous Music presented virtual concerts and showcases, song shares, online workshops, grant writing incubators, mentorship, the second edition of the Talking Stick music video series, ongoing song camps in partnership with SOCAN, a tour of north and south Manitoba in partnership with the Manitoba Arts Network, and multi-day professional development intensives including Market Builder and the ASKIY Export Residency, as well as the National Indigenous Peoples Day mentor meetings and virtual artist showcase. Indigenous Music launched the Madwewetoon playlist on Spotify to amplify Indigenous voices from across Turtle Island featuring guest curators. The playlist title “Madwewetoon” meaning “make some noise” in Anishinaabemowin, has been shared by Kimberly Mckay from Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, Manitoba. Indigenous Music also launched a special collaboration with Mohawk woman-owned clothing company Reclaim Your Power for the “Strong, Resilient, Indigenous, Music” social media campaign to amplify and inspire Indigenous music makers and industry.

We launched BPM | Black Professionals in Music, a new program focused on supporting Black music professionals in Manitoba, in partnership with ADVANCE, Canada's Black Music Business Collective. BPM offers participants regular opportunities to meet and network, join discussion groups, and learn from other Black industry pros from across the globe, and guest curate a monthly Spotify playlist highlighting local artists. BPM is facilitated by creative and business owner Andrew Sannie. 

We presented virtual Manitoba Music Export events to key markets across Canada, the US, and overseas, offering new territories a glimpse at homegrown talent and creating chances for important career connections with the global industry via AmericanaFest, Folk Alliance International, Most Wanted: Music Berlin, and New York’s Upstairs Neighbours, and reunited with The Current and UMFM for a virtual edition of the Midwest Music Exchange. We also united with several other music industry associations for a return to the stage in Toronto at the Come Together showcase and industry meetings, and at M for Montreal.

We produced a virtual edition of PASSPORT: Music Export Summit, an intensive professional development initiative for Canada’s music industry. Produced by Manitoba Music in partnership with Music Nova Scotia, Canada’s Music Incubator, and the National Music Centre, PASSPORT delivered intensive training sessions to prepare export-ready Canadian artists and music entrepreneurs with business skills and product development to help bring Canadian music to the world.

The Francophone Music Program produced mentorship and incubator projects, working closely with BreakOut West to create additional export market mentoring, ran two virtual editions of the long-running Rame à la rencontre de l’industrie de la musique francophone, as well as a return to the live stage with Montreal edition in partnership with Coup de Coeur Francophone. 

We ran several professional development events in our MusicWorks series, including live streamed workshops, grant writing incubators, market info sessions, as well as ongoing peer mentorship groups, and a partnership with ArtHaus focused on health and wellness.

We grew creative connections for a hip hop and R&B edition of the Canadian Songwriter Challenge, with the help of a Bell Media national songwriting initiative, bringing together emerging artists for co-writing opportunities and creative mentorship.

The EMBARK Export Accelerator Program returned for a second edition in 2021 to create opportunities for export-ready artists and music industry professionals to develop their businesses in key music markets. 

We teamed up with Manitoba Film & Music to share some of the stories behind the songs of four inspiring artists from Manitoba with genre-spanning video series, Safe + Sound. Presented with the support of Safe At Home MB, the video series explored music creation in our communities and the undeniable connection local musicians have to their stomping grounds, their homes, studios, neighbourhoods, and favourite music venues.

We continued open mic night online before returning to live editions at the West End Cultural Centre, ushered in a return to The Good Will stage for New Music Night, and continued to connect with local audiences through MB Live partnerships, including Festival du Voyageur, Harvest Moon Festival, IRAL Summer Jam, Manitoba Country Music Association, Pride Winnipeg, sākihiwē festival, and Wall-To-Wall Mural + Culture Festival.

Our new Spotlight Series shined a light on emerging local music makers in the stellar local music community with profiles on nine artists making important contributions and career moves, and featuring several talented music writers. 

Over 14,200 people used our free MB Live app to find live streams and concerts and over 100,000 users made their hub of all things Manitoba music, including comprehensive live music listings, music news, songs of the week, and hundreds of artist and industry profiles.

Conversations, connections, and advocacy were integral this year, as we worked to ensure that governments could see the dire need for support for the live sector, artists, and music companies struggling through lock-downs and travel restrictions. We thank the Government of Canada for the music sector support programs at Canadian Heritage and delivered by FACTOR and Musicaction, and the Province of Manitoba for emergency support for the arts through Manitoba Arts Council and Manitoba Film & Music, as well as the many other government supports for businesses and individuals. 

The board of directors announced this year's recipients of the Kevin Walters Legacy Award and Kevin Walters Memorial Songwriter Award. Recognizing an emerging professional in the music industry, the Legacy Award went to Jen Doerksen, and acclaimed multi-instrumentalist, R&B singer/songwriter, and producer Sebastian Gaskin is this year’s recipient of the Kevin Walters Memorial Songwriter Award for their impressive body of work.

This year, we welcomed Alex Sannie and Isabella Soares and were lucky to have some smart / fun folks spend time with us as summer students and work placements, including Stacha Penner, Ginaya Jesmer, Nia Banilbo, and Marti Sarbit.

We would like to thank our amazing, innovative, creative, and talented members; the generous support of the Government of Canada, the Province of Manitoba, FACTOR through the financial support of the Government of Canada and Canada's private radio broadcasters, Manitoba Film & Music, Canada Council for the Arts, The SOCAN Foundation, Bell Media, The Winnipeg Arts Council; our partners at Canadian Council of Music Industry Associations, BreakOut West, Sask Music, Alberta Music, Music BC, Music Nova Scotia, Music Ontario, CIMA; The Forks; our unwavering staff; our dedicated Board of Directors; the generous Indigenous Music Development Program Steering Committee; and our many community and industry partners for another incredible and productive fun year.


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