Tuesday, August 18, 2015

True NatCon Should Be CanCon with Soul

There is a reason that you know too many Tragically Hip songs. There is a reason I know way too many Prism songs. It is CanCon. CanCon is the percentage of Canadian music all radio stations licenced by the Canadian Radio and Television Commission (CRTC) must play and it is usually 35%. One out of every three songs on the radio.

The Canadian Content guidelines were introduced in 1968 and in the 1970's there was such a dearth of Canadian Music that I have only recently forgiven Burton Cummings. We suffered so that this generation could have Metric, Tegan and Sara, Arcade Fire and The Trews. It was a painful yet ultimately successful bit of social engineering.

Meanwhile south of the border it seemed Black Radio was supporting their own since always. Artists could develop a career and audience that could cross over into the mainstream. Today the mainstream is dominated by Black Artists.

What Canada needs is a NatCon system that is like CanCon and Black Radio. True NatCon should be CanCon with Soul.

There is a version that does exist now. All Type B Native Radio stations are required to play a percentage of Native artists and provide some kind of programming and even language. The required amount of NatCon can be as little as 2% and it is usually around 15% but some stations are only "encouraged" to play "current Aboriginal music." Some stations deal with their NatCon requirements in a manner similar to many Canadian radio stations in the 1970's by playing music in non prime hours or in specialty programming.

Despite minimal support from Canadian mainstream radio and support from Native radio stations that is spotty at best, Native music in Canada is groundbreaking and glorious. It deserves to be heard. It deserves to be in your head and in your car. All of it. The traditional music current and archival; contemporary music from Buffy Ste. Marie in the 1960's to Buffy Ste. Marie in 2015.

The required amount of Native/Indigenous music should be increased to 35% or more for all Type B Native radio stations and if you want to add the Soul on top of that then play more. There is so much incredible music that 24/7 should be the goal.

It is only in a greater commitment to the music by the people working at the stations and higher requirements by the CRTC that Native artists will make the breakthrough they deserve.

The gaming aspect is an important part of the equation. If a station gets the majority of its money from gaming it should be playing 100% NatCon as they are not really competing in the commercial radio market.

The exposure of the music to a wider audience will build listener awareness and loyalty to the artists, the music and the radio stations. If the artists are registered with SOCAN and the stations are up to date on paying fees and filling reports this would put a lot more revenue into the hands of music creators.

This would ensure that some of our most popular Native artists are getting paid and give emerging artists incentive to keep going.

But don't forget the soul. The DJ's and Programmers at the Native radio stations need to have that feeling that this music has to be shared and that this song is going save your life, this one will make you fall in love and this one will inspire the revolution and this one will shake your ass.