Noise Floor Recording Studio Criticizes BC Music Fund over Grant Criteria

BY Gregory AdamsPublished Aug 2, 2016

While the BC provincial government recently pledged to put $15 million in grants towards the arts through the BC Music Fund, a recording studio is questioning the funding criteria and whether the money will actually be accessible to smaller artists and facilities.

Terry Ondang, co-founder of Gabriola Island studio the Noise Floor Recording Studio, posted an open letter to the organizers of the BC Music Fund yesterday (August 1), questioning why recording studios applying for a grant needed to be incorporated to be eligible to get access to the fund.

A former studio manager for the prolific, once Burnaby-based Hive recording facility, which likewise wasn't incorporated, she argues that sole proprietorship studios like hers don't have the time or money to incorporate. As it stands, the fund may only serve to help out larger studios like the Bryan Adams-backed Warehouse facility in Vancouver, which has recorded artists like AC/DC.

"While I understand that the program is trying to make sure that the money goes toward professional studios / engineers, rather than someone with a laptop and a basement, (though lots of great records have been made that way) I just don't see any reason why a facility must be incorporated," Ondang argues. "What about those of us who are legally registered entities, who haven't had any need to incorporate? In its 10-year run, the Hive was registered first as a Partnership and later a Sole Proprietorship. Most of us don't personally own much more than the console we record through, so putting the time and money toward incorporation never made much sense."

Ondang, who runs the Noise Floor with producer/engineer Jordan Koop, cites high start-up costs and extra paperwork as reasons not to incorporate, adding that studios often don't "own much more than the console we record through." She reiterates that mid-level entities like hers, as well as Vancouver's Rain City Recorders, are operating legally and paying taxes.

She points to the BC Music Fund's mandate to "strengthen the province's sound recording industry and to help BC studios attract Canadian and international business for long term sustainability" as key to her argument, noting the success of some of her former clients at the Hive.

"Two of our once baby bands, Black Mountain and White Lung, were just shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize this year," she notes. "We started recording both of those bands while we were running basement studios and fortunately we've all been able to grow together in mutual success."

The Noise Floor, meanwhile, has recorded records from the likes of Wolf Parade and the Courtneys. Rain City Recorders engineers have recorded the Pack A.D., White Lung, Japandroids, Bison and many more.

You can read Ondang's letter in full over here, while you can find out more about the BC Music Fund over here.

UPDATE (8/8, 11 a.m. EDT): In response to Exclaim!'s story and Ondang's concerns, BC Music Fund manager Brenda Grunau has issued the following statement:

The Sound Recording Pilot Program is the first program to launch as part of the BC Music Fund. Capped at $500,000, this represents only 3% of the $15 million BC Music Fund. As a pilot, this program was designed to gain valuable feedback from a wide variety of industry partners as we plan for the full launch of programs, with the schedule of funding to be announced on October 18, 2016.

Incorporation was one way to quickly and efficiently gather insights from a new program, and ensure that recording studios are BC residents. For the remaining programs, applicants will not be required to be incorporated to be eligible for funding, as we will investigate different mechanisms to ensure that recipients belong to our local industry.

Over the next few months, we will collect feedback from across BC's music sector and research other funding models to create programs that work here in BC. Future programs will support music company development, touring and export, live music and industry development

The BC Music Fund will support music companies and artist entrepreneurs at all levels of the music industry. I encourage everyone to fill out our BC Music Fund survey and help us design future programs.

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