MuchFACT fund­ing pro­gram threat­ened

Windsor Star - - YOU - DAVID FRIEND

TORONTO When The Dar­cys un­veil their mu­sic video Ari­zona Hwy next week, the Toronto poprock band hopes view­ers re­al­ize it wouldn’t have hap­pened with­out MuchFACT.

Even though the Cana­dian foun­da­tion’s logo ap­pears tacked at the end of some of their mu­sic videos, band mem­ber Wes Marskell doesn’t think most fans un­der­stand how sig­nif­i­cant MuchFACT fund­ing is to bur­geon­ing acts.

“We rely heav­ily on that,” Marskell says.

That’s why the band is feel­ing anx­ious on the heels of a de­ci­sion this week that puts MuchFACT’s fu­ture into ques­tion. On Mon­day, May 15, the CRTC gave Bell Media ap­proval to no longer pay into the fund, a change it re­quested from the reg­u­la­tor.

The move frees Bell Media to ef­fec­tively kill MuchFACT, leav­ing a fi­nan­cial void of about $2 mil­lion each year that artists use for their mu­sic videos.

Marskell says The Dar­cys would cer­tainly suf­fer the im­pact, along­side count­less other Cana­dian artists, di­rec­tors and crew.

“In our world, there won’t be a mas­sive bud­get ... so it’ll re­duce the scope of the videos,” he says. “I can also imag­ine not even do­ing one.”

In a state­ment, Bell Media played down con­clu­sions from mu­sic in­dus­try in­sid­ers that MuchFACT is on its last legs, say­ing it’s cur­rently re­view­ing the pro­gram.

“No de­ci­sions have been made re­gard­ing (its), fu­ture at this time,” the com­pany said.

MuchFACT has been a key com­po­nent in Canada’s mu­sic in­dus­try since its launch as VideoFACT in 1984. The or­ga­ni­za­tion grants artists and their record la­bels chunks of money for their projects.

The fund­ing can range from a cou­ple of thou­sand dol­lars to a max­i­mum of $50,000 for a “con­tent pack­age” that in­cludes a mu­sic video and digital el­e­ments like web­sites, trail­ers and mo­bile apps.

In its early days, the pro­gram was a boon for ris­ing tal­ent such as Celine Dion and k.d. lang who used the money to cre­ate flashy mu­sic videos that could com­pete with the likes of Madonna and Michael Jack­son on MuchMu­sic and MTV.

In the 1990s, Bran Van 3000 tapped into the fund for its Drink­ing in L.A. mu­sic video, while the Bare­naked Ladies used it for Lovers In A Dan­ger­ous Time.

The grants were also a huge ben­e­fit to Cana­dian film­mak­ers.

Di­rec­tor X built his ca­reer on MuchFACT videos like Mae­stro’s Stick to Your Vi­sion be­fore shooting Ri­hanna’s Work video and direct­ing his own film Across the Line.

Ke­van Funk pre­mièred his de­but fea­ture Hello De­stroyer last year af­ter work­ing on mu­sic videos like A Tribe Called Red’s Sta­dium Pow Wow.

While MuchFACT isn’t the only fund­ing op­tion — gov­ern­men­tas­sisted or­ga­ni­za­tions like Fac­tor and Quebec’s Mu­si­cac­tion can also give pro­duc­tions a boost — it’s cer­tainly one of the most sig­nif­i­cant.

But as more view­ers grav­i­tated to YouTube over the last decade, Bell Media started to ques­tion why it should fi­nance videos that were mostly seen out­side of their broad­cast net­works. Those sen­ti­ments where em­pha­sized when Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 video for Call Me Maybe, funded by MuchFACT, be­came a global vi­ral sen­sa­tion (it’s now near­ing one bil­lion views on YouTube).

Bell Media’s only ben­e­fit from the grant came through air­ing the video on its TV chan­nels and sell­ing ad­ver­tis­ing space dur­ing the com­mer­cial breaks. Any money made on YouTube went to the stream­ing web­site’s par­ent com­pany Google, the record la­bel and the artist.

Cherie Sin­clair, ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer at Toronto pro­duc­tion out­let The Field, says that’s why it doesn’t make sense for a broad­caster to be forced to pay for videos any more.

“They can still put their tracks out on Sound­Cloud, they can make a lyric video. It needs to be re­de­fined,” she says.

“They need to be re­source­ful and find a friend who can pos­si­bly make a lyric video for them or find self-fi­nanc­ing.”

They need to be re­source­ful and find a friend who can pos­si­bly make a lyric video for them.

INVISION/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS/FILES

Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2012 video Call Me Maybe, funded by MuchFACT, be­came a global vi­ral sen­sa­tion.

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