MEGAPHONO is an annual industry conference and showcasing festival run in February (on purpose) by Jon Bartlett and Rachel Weldon, the leads behind a local-music-industry-management-company-turned-non-profit Kelp Music / MEGAPHONO.
This year was its fifth edition. The festival / conference's year-one launch was planned to coincide with the public launch of / respond to one of the needs identified in the Connecting Ottawa Music Report, a research effort that spearheaded all the industry development work that followed. The City of Ottawa worked with Kelp as one of the local private-sector leads in putting together that report so Kelp Music / MEGAPHONO has a special place in the context of all of the work that’s been done to get the industry moving in Ottawa.
This year we focussed our collaboration on the role of media in music ecosystems. With the way that corporate consolidation in the media industry has affected the coverage of local culture - decimating local arts + culture weekly publications and arts sections of major newspapers - and new provincial legislation in Ontario that looks to threaten how campus-based community radio stations are funded - one of the few places where this kind of coverage lives - the public circulatory system of cultural information is under threat. This affects both how local audiences engage with the music scene and how out-of-town audiences discover it.
In response to this challenge the City of Ottawa funded a part of the MEGAPHONO media delegation, consisting of journalists and leaders inside of international media organisations. By bringing together representatives and individuals who represent different roles across local and international media we wanted to facilitated a conversation about what the challenges are out there, who’s getting it right and how. In addition to the panel we brought our local media orgs together with MEGAPHONO’s full media delegation for a more prolonged and collegial lunch + learn session about what is happening out there in the media landscape and what our organisations can learn from successful media organisations like KCRW, Exclaim! and others to be sustainable and thrive .