By Claudia Cheung
Music has always been a healing tool for many people. Whether you are listening to music or creating music - out there, is always a voice that matches your taste. It is tough times like now that makes us more grateful for musicians and people who work behind the scenes.
As we live through the pandemic, VIBE 105 talks to two organizations that provide resources and aids to the Black music communities; ADVANCE, Canada’s Black Music Business Collective and Unison Benevolent Fund
Both organizations work with each other to align on their goals of outreach within the BIPOC communities.
ADVANCE, created in 2020 with everything happening around the world and in Canada, looks to address the needs within all sectors of the Black music industry - including labels, publicists, promoters and managers, etc.
According to Jermayne Clayton— Advocacy committee, ADVANCE: “It’s important to see more Black individuals working at those labels. If our music is the popular genre now, there is a need for that representation on the business side. That’s one of the main things that ADVANCE was addressing.”
Unison Benevolent Fund is Canada’s non-profit music industry charity. They provide free counselling and emergency relief service to the entire Canadian music community. The goal is to help everyone from the industry. Whether you work onstage or offstage, as long as you contributed to the Canadian music economy, Unison is there to support you.
“Great teams, create great artists. At the end of the day, that’s what we’re all trying to do.” - Jermayne Clayton, Advocacy committee (ADVANCE)
In August 2020, ADVANCE, the City of Toronto and the Slaight Family Foundation announced a $2 million partnership to support Toronto’s Black entrepreneurs working in the music industry.
ADVANCE - recently established and in the early stages of designing different programs - aims to help educate their members and allow them to experience the music industry.
Currently, ADVANCE runs a podcast called Amplify, where they talk about stories of how some individuals approach the business.
Clayton started in the music industry ten years ago.
“We can absolutely say that we are walking behind individuals that came before us, who gave us an easier path in the music industry as Black creators. We still have ways to go.”
The goal at Unison is to reach organizations and people in Canada that specialize in amplifying the Black music communities.
Recently, Unison conducted a health & wellness survey for the Canadian music industry, receiving 419 responses, in total. Only 13% identify as part of a racialized and visible minority.
According to Sarah Hagerman— Executive Director & Industry and Events Manager, Unison Benevolent Fund: “This insight proves that Unison must do better as an organization, and we need to expand our resources. We are committed to continuing our outreach and collaboration to improve this immediately.”
Unison does not provided direct counselling. All calls are directed to Morneau Shepell (the largest Employee and Family Assistance Program counselling network in Canada). To reach out to Unison’s free counselling service, one need to first register. Then, call the hotline, and you to be immediately directed to Morneau Shepell.
For financial help, one can email Unison’s office with an application, for review. Recommended details include information about one’s professional music background, reason for the application and any information about financial situation.
When it comes to dealing with creativity burnout, Hagerman suggests one should be mindful of their mental health and the space they hold within the current environment.
“Consuming other types of media, taking care of your mental space and health can help spark new perspectives and new ideas.”
According to Clayton: “Take the time to learn and find somebody to learn from. Take time to hone in on your craft. People are listening. Try as much as you can.”