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Words by Ryan Mitchell
Photograph by Adam Luk

Sit down, turn on the radio. The sound heard is a song that has heavy requests and receives more air waves than a plane. Turn to the next popular station, another song that is number one, demands more play than a ball in soccer. Strangely the number one song of the day is an American song, by an artist who may not share the same time zone or the same region as his or her listeners. The concern is the external influence these popular artists have on Vancouver. How many people, who like hip hop, actually know local artists?  Out of a British Colombian’s entire compact disc collection, is there only Nickelback, Swollen Members and Nelly Furtado, as the local artists?

The Canadian government implemented a policy called the MAPL system where broadcasters, including radio stations, have to include 20% to 25% of Canadian content on their airwaves. Breaking down the letters, M demands that music has to be entirely composed by a Canadian artist, A states the artist has to be Canadian, P is the production that the song had to have been recorded in Canada or performed in the Canadian region and the L word is not a symbol of a lifestyle but for the fact that the lyrics had to be written by a person from North of the American border. This was to support Local talents and hinder the American music influence, and many other countries like Australia, Philippines, Israel, Jamaica, Nigeria, etc, all have similar systems. However in Canada for some stations this means playing the top Canadian artist repetitively to a point the listeners think they are listening to a six song rotation for seven hours.

Even in this day of iPods for individual use, international content dominates the playlists. Scroll up to the most played song on any iPod and count how many local artists are on top.

Is American music a gobbling beast dominating Canadian airtime, and in turn, Canadian money? If Music is a strong indicator of how society communicates and is influenced, are West Coast Canadians really Californians? How many Vancouver residences know and support a local singer?

The Canadian government has several diverse programs that support student musicians in school, although these current programs are in jeopardy of being shut down.

Many R&B singers and Hard Rock groups have a solid fan base like A Spectre Is Haunting Europe, Jerrica Santos and others with a concrete formation. Swollen Members produced hard tracks that hammered the charts and even did some laps for Radio and Music Television play in international waters.

One must ask where the money is going. According to the Canadian charts, it is the red stripped and white star artist that are on top with album sales while the red single leaf lay decomposed at the bottom.

The Canadian government tries to ensure that local airwaves are not completely dominated by American, (and British) music, but in doing so only benefits the local artist who have long been recognized for their work, while it leaves undiscovered artists without a sword and no army of support. Canadians have to ask themselves if their radio stations have already been defeated.

Sources
http://www.canadabusiness.ca/servlet/

http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/INFO_SHT/R1.htm

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