toronto music city

10 signs that Toronto is becoming more of a Music City

Toronto is becoming more of a Music City every day. For starters, the Toronto Music Advisory Council, along with Toronto's first-ever Music Sector Development Officer, Mike Tanner, have been searching for ways to make this city more music-friendly. And while there have been obstacles, there's now more music in more places in Toronto than ever before.

Here are 10 signs that Toronto is becoming more of a Music City.

More festivals
To add to the list of mainstays like Canadian Music Week, NXNE and the Beaches Jazz Festival, a number of new festivals were welcomed last year. The Toronto Islands hosted both Camp Wavelength and Bestival. The Night Owl was a new psychedelic fest. Wayhome was a success before it even happened. And Endless City arrived this year.

Venues got major makeovers
Two longstanding music venues are currently being revamped. INK Entertainment has promised a new concert hall for The Sound Academy. Meanwhile, renovations at Massey Hall are expected to continue for a few more years. The Cameron House and other venues also had lifts and tucks done.

New music venues
Though music fans briefly lamented the loss of a few institutions in 2015 (bye, Rancho), they can look forward to a long run of shows at newer, recently-opened venues Burdock on Bloor St. is a musician-run microbrewery. Let's Be Frank serves up hot dogs and live music. And Fat City Blues may finally have killed the curse of 890 College St.

El Mo saved
Since Michael Wekerle saved the El Mo in November 2014, there's been little news on the renovations. We do know that this month, the iconic sign was brought down for a makeover, which is hopefully an indication that it's reopening soon. Meanwhile the Matador Ballroom, which turned 100 years, is very close to opening.

Drake brings more than just hip-hop stardom and class to Toronto's music scene. In 2015 he expanded the sixth OVO Fest to include a third day with J. Cole, Big Sean, and Kevin Hart on the roster. Forbes dubbed him the third highest-paid hip-hop star in the world. Hotline Bling went viral, and If You're Reading This It's Too Late topped the Billboard 200 chart.

Postering by-law killed
In June, The Toronto Music Advisory Council and Municipal Licensing and Standards stepped in and killed the existing postering by-law. Previously, venues (and musicians) could be fined $300 to 500 for plastering posters on non-designated spaces. Many fines ended up being challenged and thrown out in court.

311 now plays indie music
In July, City Hall and the TMAC changed the "on hold" music for 311, which is the number you call when you have a city-related inquiry or complaint. Now when you wait to speak to a city rep, you can enjoy various tracks by local indie musicians. The musicians featured receive an honorarium.

Wavelength Music City Discussion
Wavelength continues to lead discussions on how Toronto can be a better Music City with their "What Makes a Music City?" panel. The April 2015 Town Hall at the Garrison helped clarify city goals, initiated a dialogue on zoning bylaws, and offered attendees a chance to gripe on how things can improve for the music industry.

Toronto Live From City Hall
City Hall itself is participating in its Music City plan with an ongoing Live From City Hall series that launched this year. The rotunda will be transformed into a stage and feature musicians of all genres from across the GTA. Shows will happen on select afternoons. Artists receive a $200 honorarium.

What did I miss? Add your suggestions for ways Toronto is becoming a better Music City in the comments.

Photo by Jae Yang in the blogTO Flickr pool.

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