With year three of the Ottawa Music Strategy officially underway, the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition and its collaborators are now at work on the first annual Capital Music Awards.

The Ottawa Music Strategy is a three-year roadmap that envisions the capital as a global music city by 2030. The strategy was approved by city council in 2018, and acknowledges that key strategic investments by the City of Ottawa must be made in order to develop a strong local music economy.

The strategy document shows that the live music scene in Ontario has a total annual economic impact of around $1.2 billion — which includes contributions of $432.4 million in taxes to all levels of government (2013).

This is why further development of the Ottawa music scene has the potential to create substantial economic growth, and establishing the Capital Music Awards as a method to increase artist visibility is one of the objectives outlined in the Ottawa Music Strategy.

With that in mind, Joel Elliott—the chair of the membership and communications committee at OMIC—is working with his colleagues to ensure that the different categories are as inclusive of different genres as possible.

“The categories themselves—song of the year, solo/duo of the year, band of the year, video of the year—we deliberately chose so whether you’re into hip hop or classical, you could toss your name in the ring and still have a shot,” Elliott says.

He also adds that, while the awards will obviously have winners, the nominees—and, by extension, the Ottawa music scene—will also reap the benefits.

“Let’s say, at minimum, there’s three to five [nominees for each of the six categories], then you’ve got 30 artists from Ottawa that you’re promoting all the way up to the show and hopefully gaining a lot of interest outside of town as well.”

Danielle Allard—a local musician and newly appointed OMIC communications board member—acknowledges that work still needs to be done to reach the goals set by the Ottawa Music Strategy, but points to the awards as a welcome addition.

“There’s so much work still to do,” Allard says. “But it’s the first time that we, as local musicians, are getting that recognition in a way that is not only internal, but you’re also making a name for the whole city.

“There’s enough people here who are supportive of one another and we can build something great, but we need to do it together,” she adds.

The awards are scheduled to be held sometime near the end of March, with the nomination window open to the public until Feb. 14 on OMIC’s official website.

For further information, the full Ottawa Music Strategy document can be accessed here.