News / London

Turn London's music talent into cash, says MPP

Energy Minister Chris Bentley’s singing from a different songbook these days.

Instead of touting the benefits of windmills and beefing up hydro lines, the London West MPP is trying to harness the local music scene’s power.

Music, Bentley says, can become an economic driver right across the province. Where better to start than in his hometown?

“You’ve got an enormous amount of talent here,” Bentley, standing on a stage at the London Music Club, told a group of local leaders and musicians Thursday. “The goal here is to strengthen who you are (and) recognize the economic advantage.”

Backed by the likes of London Chamber of Commerce CEO Gerry McCartney, has rolled out a multi-point plan to reaching the goal.

It includes creating an inventory of everything from local musicians, to the venues they play, to local recording studios.

He’s urging those active in the music scene to market themselves — and London — through social-media networks and is planning networking events for industry players.

Bentley brought in a big music-market name to help unveil his plans.

Graham Henderson, president of Music Canada, has been sounding a battle cry about the sector’s potential for quite some time and brought the message to London for Bentley’s announcement.

A study commissioned by the trade organization found that 81 per cent of economic activity in the Canadian recording industry happens in Ontario. Of the 7,420 Canadian jobs tied to live music, half are in Ontario, Henderson said.

“Some provinces have to create a (music) scene,” he told Thursday’s crowd. “We already have it … and it’s not all in Toronto.”

Henderson touts Austin, Tex., — self-billed as the “live music capital of the world” — as a shining example of turning talent into money.

Studies show that music packs a $1.6-million economic punch for the city, employing 49,000 people and bringing millions of dollars into city tax coffers each year, officials say.

Making the leap

Graham Henderson, president of the trade organization Music Canada, says seeing the music sector as a way to grow the economy is something that’s “crossing into the mainstream.”

His proof? Ontario Liberal leadership hopefuls Sandra Pupatello and Kathleen Wynne have both talked about its importance in their campaigns.

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