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Canadians recognize the need for government support for recovery and worry about the future of live music in Canada.

By David Coletto & Megan Ross

For video interviews by Skype or Zoom or audio interviews, please contact David at 613-884-4730 or david@abacusdata.ca

1. 85% of Canadians believe that the pandemic will have a negative impact on Canadian arts and culture.
2. Canadians recognize that music festivals and live music have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. Most think they will need government support to recover.
3. Half of Canadians who have a favourite live music venue feel it is very or somewhat likely that it will shut down because of the pandemic.
4. If venues and festivals close or are cancelled permanently, many believe that thousands of jobs will be lost, future Canadian musicians will lose their chance to succeed, and less Canadian music will be created.
5. The good news is that if venues and festivals can get through the pandemic, millions plan to return to live music events as soon as they can.


Throughout the pandemic, Music Canada has been tracking views, perceptions, and intended behaviours of Canadians towards music generally and live music specifically.

At the end of 2020, they commissioned Abacus Data to conduct a third, national survey exploring public perceptions about the impact of the pandemic on live music in Canada. The study was conducted at a time when general concern about the pandemic was close to its highest level with almost 4 in 10 Canadians saying they are extremely or very worried about the pandemic.

You can find the previous survey results here and here.

Despite growing concerns about the spread of the virus, Canadians also recognize the economic and social impact it is having on several sectors that have been hardest hit by the restrictions on public gatherings and live events.

The survey finds that millions of Canadians are eager to return to live music when it’s safe to do so. But there are deep concerns about the long-term impact of the pandemic on the live music sector and on Canadian arts and culture. Many worry that when it’s safe to return, the music venues they love will be gone.

Here is what we found:

As we found in earlier studies for Music Canada, almost all Canadians say they like or love music. Music brings joy, comfort, and excitement to people’s lives. It touches all Canadians, young and old, male or female, across every region of the country.

And despite the complete shutdown of live music in all parts of the country, millions of Canadians plan to attend live music events again as soon as it’s permitted – there is a pent up demand for these experiences. But we also find widespread concern about what will be left of the sector and those who work in it when life returns to normal, whatever that normal will be.

Almost all Canadians believe that music festivals, pubs and bars, and live music have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. And clear majorities believe the negative impact has been severe – 78% think music festivals have been very negatively impacted, 70% feel the same about live music, and 68% feel the same about the impact on pubs and bars.

Given that Canadians recognize the impact of the pandemic on live music, most also believe that the live music sector will require some government support to recover after the pandemic. 65% think live music will need at least some help from government. 63% feel the same about music festivals. Those who regularly attend live music events, younger Canadians and those in Quebec are more likely to feel that governments should support the sector and help it get through the challenges created by the pandemic.

There’s also a widespread public belief that those who work at live event venues and musicians have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. More Canadians believe those who depend on live music for their livelihoods have been impacted severely compared with other professions.

Beyond the impact of the pandemic on the live music sector and those who depend on it for their livelihood, Canadians also believe Canadian arts and culture more generally is at risk. 84% think the pandemic will negatively impact Canadian arts and culture. Moreover, 89% of Quebecers feel that their province’s arts and culture will be negatively impacted by the pandemic.

This view is consistent across age groups, gender, and across the political spectrum.

What is driving this concern? Displaced musicians will need to find new ways to make a living, impacting the production of music.

• 65% agree that many musicians in Canada who have been unable to make a living from their music or art will have to find new ways to make a living, risking Canada’s culture, arts, and music industry long-term.
• 58% agree that the pandemic will have a long-term, negative impact on the production of Canadian art, music, and culture.
• 53% agree that without government support, an entire generation of Canadian musicians and arts could be lost.

One in five Canadian adults, or about six million people, have a favourite live music venue in their community where they attend events. More broadly, Canadians of all stripes believe these venues contribute not only to the quality of life of where they live but improve and sustain the economic and social fabric of their communities.

But there’s also an expectation that without support, some venues and festivals will close permanently. Few believe there will be no closures, and those who attend live music events regularly are more likely to think that many venues will close before the pandemic is over.

Most alarming, almost half of those with a favourite live music venue believe it is likely those venues will shut down permanently, and half of Canadians, in general, have heard about these venues – festivals, venues, and bars or pubs – closing down permanently in their area already.

The connection between live music venues and the health and vitality of Canadian music is well understood.

• Half think that thousands of jobs that depend on live music will be lost. Another 42% think this might happen.
• Half think that because live music venues provide essential career stepping stones for emerging artists, many potential musicians won’t get a chance to succeed. Another 42% think this might happen.
• 40% think that fewer venues for musicians to perform and make a living will mean less live music will be created. Another 42% think this could happen.
• 40% think there will be fewer places for musicians to perform, causing many to stop making and performing music altogether.

How would people react to venue closures? The survey tested reactions to different scenarios. If 25% of live music venues close, 77% say they would be disappointed while 44% express anger over this outcome. Clearly, the loss of live music would make the impact of the pandemic, which has already caused a great deal of anxiety, even worse. When the scenario increases permanent closures to 50% and 75%, Canadians’ negative feelings continue to increase.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to produce widespread worry, anxiety, and loneliness for millions of Canadians who are stuck at home and isolated from their loved ones and their usual activities.

During this period, music has been a source of comfort and discovery for many. Technology has enabled Canadians of all ages to find new artists, discover new songs and albums, and interact with their favourite artists in new ways. Millions have streamed live music content, watched more music videos, and learned about the artists they love.

But the pandemic has also taken away the joy that live music brings to so many Canadians and there’s widespread concern that the impact on the sector will run deep and long-term.

Millions worry that their favourite live music venues will shut down permanently. For millions, these venues improve their quality of life and contribute to the economic and social well-being of their communities.

But the impact goes far beyond individuals or their communities. There’s a real sense that Canadian culture and art will face long-term negative impacts due to the pandemic. Most feel that Canadian culture and art will be negatively impacted, while half feel that without government support, an entire generation of musicians and the workers who support the sector will be lost for good.

The good news is that most Canadians who love live music and regularly attended live music events prior to the pandemic cannot wait to return. If venues and those who rely on them can get through this dark period, demand for what they produce will return quickly.

For governments, these results clearly point to broad support for action. Canadians recognize the impact on the live music sector. They worry about its long-term viability and believe the government should act to support and get the sector through this difficult period.

The pandemic has caused so much heartache as thousands of families have lost loved ones to the disease. Millions more have seen their lives disrupted, incomes harmed, and mental health impacted. For those who love live music, the idea that their favourite venues, artists, and events may not survive, makes this pandemic hurt even more.

Our survey was conducted online with 2,000 Canadians aged 18 and over from December 28, 2020, to January 1, 2021. A random sample of panellists was invited to complete the survey from a set of partner panels based on the Lucid exchange platform. These partners are double opt-in survey panels, blended to manage out potential skews in the data from a single source.

The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random sample of the same size is +/- 2.2%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment, and region. Totals may not add up to 100 due to rounding.


Music Canada is a non-profit trade organization founded in 1964 that promotes the interests of its members as well as their partners, the artists.

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