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More Bieber, less CRTC

22 Jul

It seems like you can’t have a discussion about Canadian music these days without Justin Bieber coming up. And rightfully so, I think.

A couple people brought up the Biebs after my post the other day, both in the comments section and in subsequent conversations on Twitter. Truth be told, I had a follow-up written about why Bieber is better than The Tragically Hip, but I suspect a number of people would try to firebomb my house if I published that. Instead, let’s go with this.

The reason why Bieber – the little dude with the annoying haircut from Stratford, Ontario, who is also one of the world’s biggest pop stars – is relevant to any discussion about modern Canadian music is because of how he became one of the world’s biggest pop stars. He didn’t do it by slogging his way around Canada and touring incessantly and by getting airplay thanks to CanCon rules. He did it the new-fashioned way: through YouTube videos.

If you’re not familiar with his story, here’s a nice summary. Basically, 12-year-old Bieber started posting videos of himself singing pop songs. When the videos started garnering lots of views, he got the attention of big-wig artists and music executives, and the rest is history.

It’s easy to hate on Bieber because of the haircut and because he sings vapid pop songs. But if you’ve never heard the kid sing, you really should. He’s got a good voice and, dare I say it, he’s almost soulful:

Not only is it good to see a local kid done good, it’s also encouraging to see that he did it without any help from the kindly old folks at the CRTC. It really makes the idea of the regulator getting its sticky fingers onto the likes of YouTube that much more repulsive, doesn’t it?

Ironically, Bieber may or may not be considered Canadian under CRTC CanCon rules, which brings back memories of the same crazy situation Bryan Adams had to deal with 20 years ago. The CBC had a great radio feature on the issue at the time, which I highly recommend checking out. As the cliche goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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6 Comments

Posted by on July 22, 2011 in crtc, Google

 

6 responses to “More Bieber, less CRTC

  1. Randy

    July 22, 2011 at 12:52 am

    I guess we can spare your house at this point… ;-)

    And with regard to how he did it, that is exactly the reason why I stated that the entire CRTC MPLA thing is totally non relevant at thhis point in time. Lets face it, CRTC controled distribution channels probably accounts for less than 15% of the streams that the average person currently gets their music (or dramatic for that matter) entertainment from. It’s a wine cork in a 5 foot wide hole in the dam.

     
    • petenowak2000

      July 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

      That’s very well put.

       
  2. Jamie Sturgeon

    July 22, 2011 at 1:26 am

    he was also culturally agnostic, eh. Nothin’ Canadian bout Biebs.

     
    • petenowak2000

      July 22, 2011 at 9:15 am

      He’s from Stratford isn’t he? Do you have to sing songs about the last time the Leafs won the Cup to be Canadian? (BTW the Leafs are only about 50-60% Canadian themselves.)

       
  3. Marc Venot

    July 22, 2011 at 8:12 am

    The CBC should look at the montage of this archive (several time the same parts).
    Brian Adams has received a maximum official canadian recognition. It would be interesting to get its current opinion.
    Justin Bieber is a (girl) generation phenomenon, packaged for the world. The question would be to know if you play it on a general audience radio what percentage of people will switch station.

     
  4. Simon Cohen

    July 22, 2011 at 11:08 am

    I think the Bieber example highlights why we *do* need CanCon. Instead of having our youngest talent being snapped up by opportunistic U.S. labels who have been trolling YouTube, who then turn them into 2-dimensional pop-products, we should be developing our own talent right here in Canada. I’m not a big Hip fan myself, but when I was in university in the late 80s, they were HUGE with the college crowd. That tells me something: Canadians *don’t* always like the same music as Americans (the Hip never really succeeded there). Would they have had a chance at all without CanCon?

     
 
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