Like millions of Canadians who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, I learned a lot about this country’s diverse music scene by watching MuchMusic.
I still remember the first time I saw Our Lady Peace’s Naveed, and the moment I discovered Sloan through the hilarious wedding-themed video for Everything You’ve Done Wrong. It was an important channel growing up and, again, like a lot of Canucks, I’ve been saddened by its move away from music videos to vapid reality TV programs, like A Shot At Love with Tila Tequila.
But despite MuchMusic’s love of American programming, the network — currently owned by CTVglobemedia — continues to help fund Canadian-made music videos via MuchFACT (previously VideoFACT). That could soon change. CTV has asked the CRTC to reduce its financial commitment to MuchFACT from seven per cent of its revenue to 3.5 per cent.
Some people will see this as yet another sign that MuchMusic does not want to play videos. Let them strip the station of every single music video if that’s what they want. Because it has dutifully promoted Canadian culture for three decades, it’s easy to forget MuchMusic is not the CBC. It’s purpose is to make money and the reality is that if MuchMusic devoted as much time to playing music videos today as it did 15 years ago, it could be in trouble.
Nowadays, more and more people are discovering music videos online. While I have fond memories of the station, its original purpose is being rendered irrelevant. (If you really like watching videos on TV, tune into AUX TV.)
What concerns me most about CTV’s CRTC application is that artists will potentially have fewer opportunities to get videos funded. Beverly McKee, MuchFACTs executive director, admits that if the cut happens, and her organization doesn’t make any adjustments, there will be less money to go around. However, because MuchFACT’s funding is based on a percentage of the station’s revenues, if the station makes more money because of the programming change, MuchFACT could benefit.
There are still other places musicians can get money. FACTOR, for instance, is a government-funded organization that helps artists pay for demos, albums and touring, and offers artists up to $20,000 to make music videos. Other local and regional bodies provide marketing or video-specific funding.
Whatever happens, music videos will be around forever; bands will find ways to make them. Relying on a television station to help Canadian artists — and fans learn about new music — is becoming a thing of the past.
And that’s fine with me. I said goodbye to MuchMusic a long time ago.
Bryan Borzykowski is a business and entertainment writer. Follow Metro Music on Twitter @TheMetroMusic