By Jeffrey Martin

In June and during Supercrawl, members of the city’s music strategy team launched a short online survey about live music attendance in Hamilton. And although the results are not scientific, they do provide some insight as to how we can help grow live music audiences in Hamilton.

Price was not an obstacle for the majority of respondents, as seven in 10 respondents would pay up to $20 to attend local live performances. Almost half of the respondents said the price didn’t matter. And while price and location are not big considerations, finding out about a club show or other music events in time is a big one. The results show us there is no dominant “single source” for finding out about live music in Hamilton – not one of 10 live music listings ranked in the survey received more than 10% as a source of music events. The Live Venue Music Alliance, a group of bar/club operators working together to support and enhance live music in Hamilton, is reviewing the survey results and hoping it may provide some helpful insight.

“This is one of the reasons the “events” section of the new website needs to be taken serious,” says Dan Medakovic, who co-chaired the team’s musicians sub-committee. “It’s really important for everyone who presents live music performances to get their shows and events listed so music fans can finally have a robust and dependable source for ‘all things live music’ in Hamilton.”

So where does Hamilton need to go next to help the music sector? Medakovic believes our number one goal is to grow the music audience. By increasing the appreciation and importance of music, and growing audiences for music, the entire music ecosystem grows.

Dan Medakovic is a Hamilton singer-songwriter. Photo by Alex Zafer.

“There’s an apparent need to invest more in our local music community,” says Medakovic. “And that means promoting our recording studios, our music shops and retailers, our music programs, and attracting more musicians and music businesses to Hamilton. We have to support and protect the infrastructure we need for a thriving, healthy music scene.”

Hamilton needs to consider what successful music cities have accomplished, and that must include an “agent of change” strategy so developers don’t build condos right across from music venues or in the heart of music districts and then the venues are forced to shut down. Toronto has lost six important live venues recently and London, England has lost almost 100 venues because of gentrification, soaring real estate values and a condo boom.

“We need to be focused on removing barriers such as ‘noise’ bylaws so we can have more music outside,” says Medakovic. “You can’t be a music city if you’re not committed to having music-friendly development and policies in place that encourage and support the music industry and local musicians.”


Writer and PR-marketing pro, Jeff Martin is owner of Quorum Communications, Inc. He’s a member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada and is co-singer-songwriter of Hamilton roots act The Caretakers.