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Hamilton formalizes fair payment for musicians policy

HAMILTON, ON - The City of Hamilton shows leadership among Canadian municipalities by formalizing fair payment of musicians for City-led events. On June 23, 2021, City Council approved the Musicians Fair Payment Policy that supports and increases community awareness of the importance of paying musicians fairly for their music performances.

The policy was developed to formally and tangibly recognize the value of musicians’ work, specifically performances as they represent a significant source of a musicians’ income, by paying rates for music performances that align with music industry standards. The policy defines “City-led events” as those that are led and organized by City staff; events directed by Council or under the guidance of boards or committees; and/or when the City contracts a third party to oversee an event.

The policy will ensure that musicians hired for City-led events are paid, at minimum, the current minimum annual rates established by the Canadian Federation of Musicians who are represented locally by the Hamilton Musicians Guild Local 293.

Payment of fair wages for performance has been encouraged by the Hamilton Music Advisory Team (HMAT) through their guidance on the development of the Music Monday’s Series and was a recommendation in the 2020 Mayor’s Task Force for Economic Recovery Report.

Quick Facts

  • Hamilton is recognized as seventh in the world for independent musicians per capita.
  • Music is identified as one of Hamilton’s leading industries for economic growth within the Creative Industries Sector with a workforce of 7,725 people; 540+ music business.
  • Hamilton ranks number one (1) as a top destination for music related occupations in Canada per the Creative Industries Sector Profile.
  • The median income of Creative Industries workers is $36K as referenced by 2016 Stats Canada data via Creative Industries Sector Profile.
  • In 2018, the City of Hamilton was recognized as the first Canadian municipality to be awarded with a special SOCAN Licensed to Play designation. This designation supports fair compensation for recorded music from musicians and music creators.
  • The policy aligns with existing City of Hamilton policies such as the Fair Wage Policy and Fair Wage Schedule on all construction contracts with the City as well as the Street Performance Policy and Guidelines allowing for “busking” on City property.
  • The policy does not apply to events that receive City funding (i.e. City Enrichment Fund); community-led events held on City property; or events where a musician or music group create their own event or clearly donate this service.

“Hamilton has a magnetic music industry with many musicians calling Hamilton home. Musicians are core to this industry and for them and the industry to be viable we must set the example and lead with payment that fairly reflects the professional work and service musicians provide. I’m proud and encouraged by the steps that Hamilton continues to take in recognizing the importance of the music industry’s workers and businesses. Here, we can illustrate the role that a City can play in developing City policy that supports musicians.” 

Mayor Fred Eisenberger


“A municipality has the ability to support its music industry in a number of ways – one of which is how we engage artists for City-led events. Many City-led events like Music Mondays have already been paying musicians according to industry fair wage rates. Formalizing this practise in policy helps us set a clear and formal standard across all City-led events. The fair payment for musicians’ policy also gives us an opportunity to raise awareness with our colleagues and the broader community about the importance of fairly compensating artists for their work.”

Jason Thorne, General Manager, Planning and Economic Development Department


“The Hamilton Music Advisory Team and the music and arts community have long been a supporter and implementor of paying musicians fairly for all aspects of their work. If you’ve worked in the industry you’ve either experienced yourself or heard about the unfortunate situation where musicians are asked to perform for free or being pitched that their payment is simply the exposure, they get from having an audience. Certainly, this topic is important to HMAT; and it was great to see it included in the Mayors Task Force for Economic Recovery and now coming forward as a formal City policy. Having fair payment for musicians formalized at the City level goes a long way in demonstrating and modeling the actions that show that the City understands and supports musicians; and helps show the positive outcomes of government and industry working together,”

Tricia LeClair, Chair of the Hamilton Music Advisory Team (HMAT)


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