Fresh off its success persuading Ottawa City Council to adopt a city music strategy, the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) held a subdued annual general meeting on Monday that concentrated on building the organization.
The coalition's membership has ballooned from 10 to close to 150 members in the three years it's been in operation, and OMIC president Mark Monahan (executive director of Ottawa Bluesfest) told the AGM “sometimes the challenge is figuring out who your members are and what they want.”
“One of the biggest challenges we have I think in the coming year is to keep the organization relevant. We would like to think everybody joins this organization because they have a sense of supporting and wanting to support local music, but also people want to know what's in it for them. And that's a natural tendency when you join organizations like this. One of the things that we've been conscious of is trying to continue to build benefits for all of the members.”
In support of that objective, OMIC recently announced partial funding to allow some members to attend Canadian Music Week, Monahan said. OMIC general manager Nik Ives-Allison said that OMIC runs audio tech workshops for women and non-binary people, and monthly Music Monday sessions which combine networking with education and live music and for which musicians are paid to perform.
In the next year, OMIC is planning weekly drop-in clinics when musicians can get advice from staff, and an 8-week course for emerging artists to teach them professional and business skills, she said. It is also aiming to expand the number of artists that it helps through more intensive professional development programs which it will announce soon.
The organization has broad aims, including developing audiences for Ottawa music; supporting the development of both artists and other music professionals and entrepreneurs; building Ottawa music networks; and advocating for the local music industry. Its members include not only musicians, but also promoters, record labels, recording studios, college teachers, and other members of the local music industry – including some jazz musicians and jazz venues.
Ives-Allison noted that the organization membership had grown by more than half in the last fiscal year, but was only retaining 2/3 of its members at renewal time. She said OMIC wanted to add another 100 members in 2018-19, and in particular more francophone members, and increase its retention rate.
Monahan told OttawaJazzScene.ca after the meeting that OMIC's main goal in 2018-19 was to expand its membership – and with its diverse cross-section of people from the music industry, “listen to them and see where they want to go”.
The meeting attracted more than 40 people with 27 voting members (organizational or individual), filling the hall at Hintonburg Community Centre (only a few blocks from the Record Centre). There were 5 positions on the OMIC board up for election at the meeting, and nine candidates. The fifth director had to be voted for twice because there was initially a tie. Two musicians known to jazz audiences: Brian Asselin and Ed Lister, ran for the board, but neither was elected.
Of OMIC's current members, 5 of 67 musician, 4 of 43 business, and 4 of 15 organizational members either perform jazz or present jazz performances.
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