On a per capita basis, Canada’s music industry dramatically outperforms the US when it comes to the presence of music business establishments (this category includes record labels, distributors, recording studios, and music publishers). Canada has 5.9 recording industry establishments per 100,000 residents, about five times the US figure of 1.2.However, this appears to really be only on a per capita basis:
Recording industry establishments in the US are slightly larger – they have an average of 5.9 employees each, compared to only 5.7 in Canada. But the difference is dramatically more pronounced when it comes to revenue. US establishments earn average receipts of $4.1 million per establishment, compared to only US$540,000 in Canada.
So Canada has considerably greater per capita musical activity than the United States in terms of record labels, recording studios, and licensing houses. But the data tell us that the United States has much higher-earning businesses that are more heavily clustered in fewer places – especially Nashville, Los Angeles, and to a lesser extent, New York.
While this research is preliminary, we can speculate about what drives these differences. Economic geographers, from Jane Jacobs to Allen Scott to the Martin Prosperity Institute’s own recent analysis, have long noted that growth in creative industries like music tends to be driven by clustering and economies of scope and scale. The concentration of the American music business in a few key cities likely encourages these forces. In Canada, the fact that the music business is more evenly distributed is certainly a positive thing for musicians looking for opportunities in smaller cities. But failure to cluster in a few key centres may be discouraging the Canadian music industry from growing larger and more internationally competitive.