Indigenous music industry booming, study confirms

Melissa Ridgen
There’s little shock that Indigenous musicians are on the rise in number, reach and influence, but even long-time industry insiders had a bit of a jaw-drop when a new study revealed just how much the industry is contributing to Canada’s economy each year.

The National Indigenous Music Impact Study is the first of its kind, and was undertaken by APTN.

It found Indigenous music put $78 million into the Canadian economy in 2018, including 3,000 full-time jobs and showed just how much the industry has grown in recent years.

The magnitude of that isn’t lost on Alan Greyeyes, director of the Sakihiwe Festival.

“That impact is something we’ve never seen before,” Greyeyes said. “It’s great to have these first set  of results we can act on.”

The data collected will be useful in hitting up funding agencies to support Indigenous musicians, who face unique challenges including living and working from remote communities.

Greyeyes said a broader audience started to get interested in Indigenous artists and sounds after A Tribe Called Red and Tanya Tagaq took the world by storm earlier this decade.

The study showed 16 per cent of artists said their audience is beyond Canada – streaming music sites and social media make is easier than ever before to reach consumers.

And the tours, naturally follow.

“Representation is so important and music gives us one of those platforms that we can use to challenge stereotypes about Indigenous people,” Greyeyes said.

“So every stage, every album, every social media tweet. Every time we step to that microphone we have the opportunity to show Canadians and the rest of the world that we’re individuals and that our voices matter.”

Juno-nominated Anishinabek singer songwriter Leonard Sumner and Cree-Metis artist Bebe Buckskin each treated InFocus to two songs.

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