New report outlines how Edmonton could become a music city

Could Edmonton become a music city? A new report outlines strategies on how this could become a reality, and the economic and tourism growth it could add to the city.

Cynthia Hamar is an Edmonton-based singer-songwriter, she’s always felt the need to go elsewhere to make it in the music industry.

“Like you need to go to like L.A. or Nashville or like Toronto. I love it here. I don’t want to go anywhere,” said Hamar. “So to actually hear that we’re gonna do something about that and draw more people here and actually create this culture that could mirror some of these other types of cities that are bringing artists, that’s pretty cool.”

The Starlite Room is one of Edmonton’s premier live music stages. But even it is struggling in the post-pandemic economy.


“Unfortunately, we’ve seen a number of venues close throughout the past 10-15 years. I still believe that our scene and musicians are really strong, but the infrastructure has been shaken and it’s been a hard recovery,” said Tyson Boyd, the co-owner of Starlite Room, River City Revival House, and Concertworks.

“Having maybe with municipality levels, having a break on property taxes, that’s super helpful, having some available funding through grants that are available specifically for profit venues. That would be incredible. It really alleviates a lot of the pressures of us having to spend money that we might be making from single revenue sources like alcohol, back into artists and whatnot because of the cost of overhead and the balances has become so tough.”

A new report released Thursday by West Anthem outlines strategies on how Edmonton could become a music city. The report shows the number of venues and infrastructure has declined over the years.

Even while that was happening, the music industry added $1.7 Billion to Alberta’s economy and supported more than 20,000 jobs in the first pandemic year of 2020.

“Edmonton has a very unique identity, to become a music city on its own. And that means having a great live music scene year-round, having a great nighttime economy, having a lot of artists living and working from Edmonton and touring from Edmonton,” said Andrew Mosker, the co-founder and chair of West Anthem.


The report outlines three main drivers to make this a reality, infrastructure, regulatory and government support, and people. Each key area has strategies to work towards making Edmonton a music city, such as addressing parking issues at music venues and practicing transparent and fair-pay policies to attract more artists to the city.

“So build on those three areas of priorities and you could become a world leader, as far as music cities are concerned, in time,” said Mosker.

It’s an important note for musicians who want to stay in the capital region. Hamar is optimistic about what it could mean for local artists like herself if Edmonton becomes a music hub.

“I feel like it’s going to create more opportunities for like gigs and maybe like collaborations,” said Hamar.