It’s been awhile since we’ve updated you all on what we’ve been up to. “Economics” is an apt theme for us to be relaunching with because in many ways, our decision to pause our editorial output last November was to study and subvert our own little economy in an attempt to try and make a change, however small, in The Big One.
We wanted to prioritize paying writers equitably and competitively while remaining independent, community-oriented, and collectively owned. We wanted our editorial practices to reflect this goal. We needed to focus our energy on developing our cooperative from the ground up.
And focus we did! Our Organization working group collaborated with our Steering Committee to establish a membership structure and corresponding Bylaws. The Budget working group established a financial plan to grow the cooperative sustainably. The Equity/Care working group authored a Code of Conduct to ensure that New Feeling is a safe, constructive and trauma-informed organization.
Today, we are launching not only our new issue, but New Feeling’s two new membership classes for community stakeholders. By subscribing to New Feeling, you can join the cooperative as a Community Member or as an Advisory Member. These members become co-owners in the cooperative along with our founding Organizing members, and gain voting rights at member meetings, helping to set the direction of New Feeling going forward. This is an important step toward our goal of incorporation, and also financial sustainability. You can learn more about joining here.
Though we’re introducing the word “subscription,” we have no intention of paywalling our bimonthly issues. It’s important to us that our writing remains accessible to everyone. Subscriptions are an integral part of New Feeling’s compensation model. New Feeling’s members can find satisfaction in knowing that their dues are first and foremost dedicated to paying writers equitably.
This relaunch only partially captures what we’d like to see from our cooperative arm and membership structure in the future. We want to grow as a community organization and intend to launch a members Discord for people to chat about local music and share their favourite writing. We will also launch a Writer Membership class which will provide access to workshops, peer mentorship, writing opportunities, and more. More information on the Writer Membership will be released in the coming months (note that Community Members will be able to switch their membership classification to Writer Member when this feature launches).
PAUL CHIN AND GAYANCE ON THE TRUE COST OF FAN-FUNDED MUSIC
By: Roshanie | Art by: Michael Rancic (L-R: Paul Chin by Sarah Bodri; GAYANCE by Stacy Lee & Bruno Destomes)
As musicians rework their business models, many are tapping into platforms like Patreon, Bandcamp, and GoFundMe to build sustainable livelihoods. The growing appeal can stem from desires to have more ownership of their work, communicate directly with fans, and secure predictable income streams. These alternatives can be far more fulfilling and lucrative than the world of ad and streaming revenue for musicians. Especially in the absence of live shows during the pandemic, crowdfunding is filling even more gaps than before.
New Feeling spoke with Toronto’s Paul Chin and Montréal’s GAYANCE about their bittersweet experiences making fan-funded music. Both Chin and GAYANCE are DJs, produce music, and juggle a number of administrative tasks to keep their music careers afloat. They share what community support means to them, whether this type of funding is informing their art, and if they would crowdfund their next musical endeavour.
Chin released his Full Spectrum EP in March 2020. Since then, he’s released a deluxe edition of the project and wrapped up its vinyl crowdfunding campaign on Bandcamp. Creating vinyl with Bandcamp is an incredibly streamlined process. They establish a campaign goal in USD based on vinyl details inputted by the artist plus Bandcamp’s own manufacturing and fulfillment costs. Chin’s campaign brought in $4,087 USD, surpassing its goal of $3,730 USD.
Chin is also a creator on Patreon where he shares works in progress, behind-the-scenes content, and other by-products of his arts practice. Unlike Bandcamp, which offers a one-time crowdfunding campaign, Patreon is a monthly membership platform. An artist’s community can subscribe to a payment tier and access its corresponding rewards such as exclusive posts, audio, and more. Not only do Chin’s listeners consume his music, they also directly fund future work through these channels.
GAYANCE is no stranger to the power of crowdfunding. She launched her first campaign in 2010 for her documentary, Piu Piu, and another in 2020 for her podcast, Le Bulletin des Cousins. Fast forward to 2021, and she’s crowdfunding her first EP, No Toning Down, which is set for release in September. This campaign is ongoing, with GAYANCE having raised $3,850 of her $15,000 CAD goal.
As the community becomes more involved in the artistic process, dynamics between these artists and their fans are also changing. With crowdfunding and membership platforms, there isn’t always a transaction such as receiving music, tickets, or merch. Instead, the foundation of these platforms is built on cheering artists on, with tangible offerings being more of a bonus.
With Chin’s vinyl crowdfunding campaign, there were three pledge levels. Pledging $25 led to one vinyl and one digital copy of the album. At $45, supporters received two vinyl copies and one digital copy. The final tier of $100 included everything in the previous tier plus a limited edition test pressing of Full Spectrum Deluxe, signed by Chin. In that way, Bandcamp’s crowdfunding feature functions like a pre-order campaign. But with each tier, supporters can pledge more than the tier is worth. Through this model, fans are covering the cost of their own vinyl copy, as well as a few more for Chin to distribute later. This display of generosity was apparent throughout Chin’s month-long campaign. He recalls one donor single-handedly bringing the project from 87 percent completion to 100 percent. When the campaign closed five days later, it had a 109 percent success rate thanks to 59 pledges.
“There could come a time that I’m earning so much through these crowdfunding channels that I can actually just have this stuff that I’ve paid for covered, and then can give it away or do whatever I want … It gives me way more options to distribute things at different or more flexible price points,” Chin says.
A few weeks later, Chin experienced another instance of generosity through an online encounter with the BTS Army, the dedicated fans of South Korean boy band BTS. After defending the group in a Twitter thread, Chin was inundated with replies from the Army expressing their appreciation for his stance. From there, the Army started getting familiar with Chin and his music. It didn’t take long for him to notice a spike in followers and streams. He adds that the Army was PayPal-ing him all weekend. Through his experiences with Patreon, crowdfunding, and now even the BTS Army, it’s become clear to him that people are willing to support him for being himself.
Reflecting on the idea of being himself, Chin says much of his initial hesitation with Patreon was rooted in this same concept. He wondered if an artist like him deserved to be on the platform at all. During the planning stage, he would make this argument to talk himself out of launching his own campaign.
“In my mind, it didn’t feel like anybody wanted to pay me just to be me… [Patreon] was always one of those things that I was aware of, thought it was really cool, but it seemed like something I had to work up to,” he says.
It was a conversation with fellow Patreon creator Kid Koala that eventually changed his outlook. The Montréal turntablist, composer, and producer reminded Chin that Patreon is a marketplace at the end of the day, with a wide range of users. Those users may be more seasoned than Chin, and others may be earlier in their careers. Either way, they’re all offering their audiences the opportunity to support them directly and a window into their arts practice.
When it came time to establish his Patreon rewards, Chin’s strategy centered around sharing his work instead of receiving input or co-creating with patrons. All the mechanisms are there to have that kind of dialogue with patrons, but it’s not in Chin’s nature to create alongside so many people. Seeing an artist like Kid Koala, who has a similarly independent creative process, succeed on Patreon showed Chin that artists who create music on their own can find a meaningful way to use the platform. It also helped Chin realize the kind of rewards that made sense for his own music career.
While he maintains creative control over his fan-funded music, Chin can still appreciate how all of these interactions will inevitably inform his work. He’s currently thinking about inviting his patrons to a monthly discussion club where they listen to a particular album and reflect on it as a group. He says the works he would select for discussion are likely influencing his own sound, so it would only make sense that dissecting it with his community would add another layer of influence and inspiration.
Now that he’s seven months into his Patreon experiment, Chin says the platform also fills a gap in terms of communication. Rather than connecting with listeners when he’s rolling out a project, there’s more of an ongoing conversation. The break from social media algorithms has also been refreshing. He’s enjoying the pace and loyal audience of Patreon much more than the usual pressure to churn out bite-sized social media content on a regular basis. Even when life gets busy and his Patreon page is a bit quieter, his patrons aren’t chasing him down to get their money’s worth. He senses his patrons’ trust in him and doesn’t feel any expectation to become a music-making machine by joining the platform. Seeing creators like musician Andrew Huang scale back his Patreon rewards when life gets busy has also been reassuring for Chin.
Both Chin and GAYANCE point out that musical and artistic projects need time to flourish—something crowdfunding can help support. While she’s been embedded in the city’s beat scene for some time, GAYANCE is fairly new to producing music. She says if she had taken it up sooner, she could see herself maybe tailoring her sound to what her peers were making. But since she waited, became a seasoned DJ, and got a taste of music scenes elsewhere, the music she’s making now is a better representation of who she is. It’s the reason she titled her EP No Toning Down.
For GAYANCE, her community is at the core of her music. That energy exchange with crowds and communities is critical. Especially in the absence of live shows and dancefloors, her crowdfunding campaign has become a source of inspiration and motivation. She explains that meeting people and bonding over music fulfills her, and her time in isolation somewhat sparked her foray into producing. Since she can’t afford therapy yet, she says making music has been her way of working through those emotions amidst the pandemic.
“We have three songs mixed out of five… Financially, the GoFundMe will help me with [pressing] vinyls, getting some merch so I can have profits to invest in other stuff, paying my engineers… I’m trying to make a music video as well,” she explains.
GAYANCE adds that she was recently rejected for a music video grant, so it helps to have options like crowdfunding to fall back on. She says she wouldn’t be able to do anything if she waited around for grants to fund her work.
Collaborators are another crucial part of the EP, and being able to compensate them fairly through the crowdfunding campaign brings GAYANCE some peace of mind. She adds that many of her collaborators have offered her discounted rates and are willing to accept delayed payments, but she’d rather provide competitive and timely compensation. WIth the help of her community, these fees become one less thing to worry about while she creates.
There’s also a part of her that is frustrated by the circumstances that led her down this path. She says many artists making English music are left behind by Quebec’s funding bodies. Especially in Montréal, where artists are bilingual or even trilingual, she doesn’t see this reality reflected in the system. While GAYANCE recognizes that some regions around the world have even less funding than what is available to her, she sees a lot of room for improvement in Quebec.
GAYANCE also observes a disconnect among artists’ financial capacity to create. She used to wonder how some artists facing the same barriers could release videos and music so often. Then one of those artists suggested funding the $15,000 goal through her parents instead of the community—an eye-opening conversation. For artists without funding or generational wealth, crowdfunding becomes critical.
Asking the community for money is another reason why the crowdfunding route is bittersweet for GAYANCE. She admits she feels a bit guilty knowing that members of her community could just as easily benefit from a crowdfunding campaign. She’s also received apologies from community members that believe in her music but have to wait till their next paycheque to donate. As a result, accepting thousands of dollars in donations can evoke some mixed feelings.
“DIY is cool, but at the same time, I feel so bad because I’m like, everyone in my community is as broke as me. Not everyone can give and give … People who are giving back are mostly marginalized people. And it makes me sad, you know? There’s rich white kids that are trying to emulate poverty with some mom-and-dad money … Why are you not giving back to people that are actually doing this shit?” GAYANCE asks.
Chin has his own frustrations with crowdfunding. While the injection of funds can move creative projects forward, the preparation and planning for campaigns and Patreon launches are now often competing with other artistic responsibilities.
Asked what he would do differently for the next campaign, Chin offers a surprising take, saying the goal is to never have to do a crowdfunding campaign ever again. Like GAYANCE, Chin is grateful to have an audience that is willing to support him, but he believes it shouldn’t fall solely on an artist and their community to bring these projects to life.
“That’s exhausting for all of us. And I do believe that while I’m nowhere near the ceiling, there is a ceiling for how big and how well you can do with [crowdfunding] as your only means. With that ‘sweat equity’ runway, you eventually do have to take off,” he explains.
He’s hoping a label or distributor can foot the bill next time, after seeing how much he’s accomplished on his own.
While creating fan-funded music is a big undertaking, GAYANCE ultimately feels better when her projects are crowdfunded. She can express herself exactly how she wants, and there’s a sense of pride knowing that she’s already accomplished so much without any support from traditional funding bodies. She jokes that she can also challenge institutions a bit more since she’s not a recipient of their grants. GAYANCE still applies for the grants that exist and would be open to other sources of funding—just not at the expense of her creative expression. Having DJed in 10 countries across four continents so far, she’s already seen the power of her community and is open to more crowdfunding campaigns down the road.
Ultimately, these platforms are a helpful tool to artists, but they still have trade-offs. It’s not as simple as the community putting money in the hands of artists. It can be an emotional rollercoaster that requires intellectual labour and upkeep, and projects can still go unfunded. Thankfully for Chin and GAYANCE, crowdfunding platforms are creating space for a well-stocked merch store and new, innovative soundtracks for the fall. Along the way they’ve also created a financial cushion, strengthened their connections to fans, and felt in control of their creative expression. For some artists, crowdfunding can be an essential step to getting their voices heard. For example, GAYANCE’s first campaign forPiu Piusheds light on the long-term impacts that these crowdfunding efforts can have on the arts
“Nobody wanted to fund [Piu Piu], and to me, it was very important. We’re talking about 2010. I made this documentary about my music scene. … There was Kaytradamus [now known as Kaytranada], Alaclair Ensemble, Dead Obies, High Klassified. But no one thought that those people would have a future,” she says.
GAYANCE didn’t reach her fundraising goal for Piu Piu, but the contributions meant she could spend less of her own money to bring the project to life. Without the crowdfunding campaign, perhaps the final product would have been different or not feasible at all. Filmed more than 10 years ago now, the documentary is a fascinating snapshot of a sound and community that has propelled many artists into the mainstream. For acts like Kaytranada, it has even landed him Grammys.
Reflecting on his experiences with Bandcamp and Patreon, Chin says these channels for fan-funded music can be a breath of fresh air for both artists and fans.
“It’s a literal deprogramming of the models that came before it, which is, you’d have to have something to turn out and have the most stuff to turn out for the least cost to the consumer to make it the greatest value to them… I think there are enough people that are tired of playing that game that they’re willing to throw five, 10, 15 dollars at somebody because they’ve done something that I like, and I’ll throw that money at them so they can at least do it again,” Chin says.
As artists dive deeper into crowdfunding, it’ll be interesting to see what else fans can fund for artists in Canada and the ripple effects they can create too.
Deep Digs: The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy? (London Recordings, 1969)
By: Kaelen Bell | Art by: Michael Rancic
In Deep Digs we take a look at significant albums from Canadian history, with an emphasis on music that might have been overlooked the first time around. This month writer Kaelen Bell revisits the radio pop-warping psychedelia of the Poppy Family’s Which Way You Goin’ Billy?
Thumbing through thrift shop stacks or your stoner uncle’s record crates, coming across Which Way You Goin’ Billy? might not elicit much interest. At first glance, the Poppy Family’s 1969 debut is another piece of dusty basement ephemera, a camp record from a camp band lost to the winds of time. Pull the vinyl from the sleeve, however, and you’ll find a piece of Canadian music history, a rare and fundamental record whose memory still sprouts quietly in the small, strange cracks of the world.
Born in Saskatoon and raised in the Fraser Valley, Susan Pesklevits was 17 when she met Terry Jacks in 1966 on the set of teen program Let’s Go, the Vancouver spinoff of Toronto’s Alex Trebek-hosted Music Hop. The two had already found small success individually, Pesklevits as a teen performer on national programs and with her trio the Eternal Triangle, and Jacks with his high school band the Chessmen, who scored a handful of Vancouver-area hits in the early ’60s. It would be a year after their on-set meeting that Pesklevits recruited Jacks for a performance in Hope, BC. Eventually the one-off became a string of shows, Pesklevits married Terry and became Susan Jacks, and the duo recruited lead guitarist Craig McCaw and started writing songs as Powerline.
The trio would start going by the name the Poppy Family sometime in late 1967. As a symbol of wartime remembrance, pharmaceutical destruction, and eternal sleep, the technicolour dream world flower was a fittingly complicated name for a band that bent radio pop innocence to the plane of eerie psychedelia. But they wouldn’t truly become the Poppy Family until the arrival of tabla player Satwant Singh. A student of Hindustani classical legend Alla Rakha with an interest in exploring Western music, Singh was the group’s secret weapon, elevating their folk-pop sound to a realm of coruscating fantasy.
Produced and primarily written by Terry Jacks and released on London Recordings in 1969, Which Way You Goin’ Billy? oscillates between pop heartache and hallucination. Its songs are driven by innocent fixations on love, clouds, shadows, and the mind that seems always on the verge of curdling into a bad trip. When it finally does, on side A closer “There’s No Blood in Bone,” it feels a bit put-on. Four introspective flower children peering eyes half-closed into the abyss, “There’s No Blood in Bone” is a fascinating detour: a band typically lit in gentle white now suddenly cast in buzzing red. The song emits a metallic heat—Susan’s hand-manipulated vocal introduction gives way to corrosive organ and guitar tones that swarm like gnats.
Released two years after 1967’s Summer of Love, Which Way You Goin’ Billy? glistens with some of Haight-Ashbury’s anti-establishment, revolutionary fervor. “What Can the Matter Be” grapples with race, industrialism, pre-war-on-drugs criminalization, and puritanism. Yet the band sound more at home in the space just before the shadows, where Terry’s sunny melodies and Susan’s luminous voice keep their intrinsic darkness at arm’s length. It’s the trick of the creepy doll or overly polite child, an unnerving sense of spoil beneath the pleasant veneer.
Sonically, the record feels delightfully in flux. Horn-dotted country-pop opener “That’s Where I Went Wrong” is a world away from the creeping delirium of “Shadows on My Walls,” the sound of a band figuring themselves out in real time. The black heart of Which Way You Goin’ Billy? pumps in “You Took My Moonlight Away,” where the foursome’s brew of ’60s pop and Hindustani-inspired psychedelia concentrates into something briefly, subtly transcendent. Cascades of strings, McCaw’s hazy sitar, and Singh’s rolling tabla are cast like twinkling stars, pulled and stretched across an expanse of inky black. “You Took My Moonlight Away” is the record’s sleeper hit, but Which Way You Goin’ Billy? had real ones too. The band’s weird little star gradually expanded as the album’s title track went #1 in Canada and Ireland, spending several weeks on the charts. But with nascent fame came complication.
At a time when modern thresholds for appropriation were crossed with wide-eyed abandon, Susan’s occasional saris or fringed moccasin boots were worn in stark contrast with her reassuring whiteness. The foursome’s music sounded something like genuine cultural synergy. But the collaborative magic the Poppy Family uncovered on their debut would soon curdle; Terry gradually phased out Singh and McCaw, and the two were relegated to side-players before eventually leaving in 1970. Of the band’s various televised performances still available on YouTube, McCaw is featured only three times and Singh just twice. The band’s second and final record, 1971’s Poppy Seeds, was recorded by Susan and Terry with a revolving door of session players, a muted outing compared to the twisted majesty of their debut.
After effectively dismantling the band, Terry Jacks went #1 again in 1973 with his treacly rendition of “Seasons in the Sun,” an English adaptation of Jacques Brel’s “Le Moribond” that was originally intended for the Beach Boys. Susan would garner a string of modest hits with her solo records, including the timeless road-song “Anna Marie,” from 1975’s Dream; the single stands tall alongside the Poppy Family’s best work. Singh went on to teach tabla and play with McCaw long after the Family’s dissolution, and the band’s four-year run eventually became a hazy footnote.
Which Way You Goin’ Billy? remains out of print in its original form, but the Poppy Family still cross over to our side from time to time, reuniting briefly in 2014 for a series of festival performances and interviews without Terry. “Of Cities and Escape” and “What Can the Matter Be” are sampled prominently on Deltron 3030’s “Madness” and “Things You Can Do,” respectively, while 2020’s Sonic the Hedgehog sees Jim Carrey dancing through his laboratory to Poppy Seeds‘ “Where Evil Grows.” The physical legacy of Which Way You Goin’ Billy? may now be relegated to dusty basement relic and crate-digger collectable, but it always felt incorporeal anyway, a blur of pollen or a red star’s distant glow, a small and strange record whose power lives beyond the things we can touch.
Why artists should adopt Chantel Chapman’s new money ethos, where financial literacy is served with a heavy dose of compassion.
By: Sumiko Wilson | Photo by: Chantel Chapman
As my interview with Vancouver-based financial coach Chantel Chapman drew to a close, things took an etymological turn.
“In North America’s view of economics, the term is technically defined as ‘the management of scarce resources.’ That in itself creates an environment of scarcity.”
Though it came in the final moments of our conversation, this observation can be looked at as the very basis for the Trauma of Money Method, Chapman’s counteroffer to what we’ve been led to believe about our finances.
Where fellow money coaches are unabashedlyharsh with their advice, the Trauma of Money takes an inside-out approach, turning the lens towards the underlying factors influencing the way we spend and the rates we charge.
For artists, this lays the groundwork for all there is to unlearn. “Scarcity is the opposite of creativity,” she explains. “With this view of economics and art, the two are in disharmony by definition alone.”
In Ontario, the pandemic illuminated just how disharmonious they can be. Last April, the Ford government put a ban on live streamed concerts, which had become a last-ditch effort for artists and venues to stay afloat while adhering to the ever-evolving restrictions. With those shows now outlawed, Chapman says that the abrupt loss is trauma in itself that should be addressed.
Having gotten her start as a mortgage broker, Chapman transitioned to teaching high school students about money and consulting with banking brands after she noticed a gap in finance education. But despite her expertise, she wasn’t immune to her own personal money faux pas. The idea for the Method came about once she addressed these financial missteps, from racking up debt to undercharging for services. “As I was on my own personal healing journey, I realized that in order to make significant change in how I interact with money—not just how I spend it and save it, but how I earn my money—I had to actually look at the trauma surrounding it and what influenced my relationship with money.”
This resulted in a multi-year research journey with a psychotherapist, where she studied trauma healing, addiction recovery, mindfulness, behavioural science, community economic development, the psychology of scarcity, and quantum physics. After years of research, Chapman says, “I brought all of these different modalities together, and we developed the first outline of the Trauma of Money Method.”
Using a multi-tiered approach, the Method starts with a deep dive into intergenerational influences on money and then explores relational, societal, systemic, and natural traumas. It culminates with in-depth financial literacy training because according to Chapman, “You actually can’t engage with financial literacy if all of these other things are activated.”
Weeks after the live streaming restrictions were announced and days before the end of tax season, I joined a Google Meet with Chapman to learn more about how artists can benefit from the Trauma of Money Method.
Sumiko Wilson: What can artists gain from understanding finance through the Trauma of Money Method?
Chantel Chapman: I work with artists and creators a lot, and I’ve noticed patterns of what financial psychologists would call “financial rejection.” This is where there are certain beliefs that are so strong that it results in us rejecting money. It’s like money is evil or if you have money, you’re a sellout. It’s the idea of not wanting to commodify yourself. These really strong beliefs result in a rejection of money, and they end up sabotaging the earning ability of creators and artists.
So how can these beliefs exist while allowing artists to earn money from a place of dignity? You can participate in earning money and not exploit people or exploit the planet. A lot of the things that are so awful about money are because of the people who interact with it, not the money itself. So for artists and creators, what I recommend is to do a deep inventory of those beliefs. Try to understand where they’re coming from. Oftentimes, beliefs that come up around money don’t belong to us. Instead, they’re placed upon us, especially if the beliefs around money are connected to worthiness. Unpack those narratives and ask if they’re helpful for reaching your goals.
One really beautiful law of nature is reciprocity, and in exploitative capitalism, reciprocity doesn’t exist. There are folks who take, and then there are the people who feel terrible about taking. What happens is that they end up giving so much without receiving. As a result, they’re not allowing the cycle of reciprocity to happen. If you’re creating art or offering something beautiful to the world, why are you prohibited from accessing the law of reciprocity? Why are you not allowed to collect on the exchange? I don’t think that the mindset shift should just be put on artists or creators, I think that it should be put on consumers, too. If I listen to music, I need to listen to that music so mindfully and with such a sense of gratitude for everything that went into that because the afterthought of gratitude is always reciprocity. Like, what can I give back?
SW: When it comes to setting a rate, where should artists start?
CC: Phase one [of the Method], we call the Window of Resilience, which we adapted from Daniel Siegel’s Window of Tolerance. Inside the window is an ideal state of arousal in your nervous system, where you can basically handle stress in an optimal state. Outside of that window, we have two different scales: fight or flight and freeze or fawning. Freeze is total avoidance, and fawning is people-pleasing. The first thing you want to do is take inventory of your nervous system because when you price your art, it’s going to bring some shit up for you. The narratives are going to come flooding in, and it’s probably going to move you out of the Window of Resilience and activate the nervous system.
So first we want to take inventory of that: are we moving into a place of people pleasing or total avoidance? Once we can identify our response, we can create a plan to get into the Window. To do this, we can breathe intentionally, we can invite mindfulness, we can do coldwater therapy, we can hum or sing, we can do our art, call friends, socialize. That’s phase one.
Phase two is to connect to the greater vision. Depending on what narratives are influencing your pricing, part of your vision may be a reimagining of capitalism, where artists are not only surviving but thriving. Have you mapped that out? What does that look like?
Phase three is what we call the inventory phase. Now that our nervous system is regulated, this is where we assess what competitors are charging and the costs associated with creating our art. When we talk about cost, we have to consider the tangible and intangible. For example, say you’re making music but you just went through a painful breakup. That whole song is emotional labour, and you should charge for that.
Or, if you perform and the next day you’re exhausted, you’re not going to charge a day rate, you’re going to charge a two-day rate because you have to sleep the next day. It’s less about time equaling money and more of an energy calculation.
SW: How can the government create infrastructure to make the artistic economy more sustainable during this time of crisis?
CC: The new rules that come into play can be traumatizing. We can’t control the fact that we’re in a pandemic, so we got creative and started live streaming, and now that’s been taken away. That loss of autonomy is traumatic. It starts with recognizing that. There’s a trauma therapist who says, “We name it to tame it.”
From the lens of someone who has consulted entrepreneurs for a long time, my advice to artists would be diversification. Even from a financial standpoint, I would never tell anyone to put all of their money into one thing. You want to diversify because it mitigates risk. Sometimes we think that a 9-5 is safer, but you never know. You could lose that job at any time. So now, we’re seeing this millennial-led idea of multihyphenates with multiple revenue streams. That’s what I’d say on an individual level.
From an infrastructure level, I think that what New Feeling is doing is a great example. Adopting the co-op model and having folks with similar values gather together creates a greater sense of collective power, which hopefully can influence policies to protect musicians and artists.
Inequitable Distribution of Operational Funding Is Squeezing the Life Out of Canada’s Non-Profits
COVID-19 pandemic was the nail In the coffin, exacerbating the need for an accessibility overhaul
By: Aly Laube | Art by: Laura Stanley
“A lot of us are on the verge of homelessness if we miss a cheque and can’t pay our rent and don’t have a security network to fall back on,” says Josh Eastman, founder of new non-profit music space, Helm Studios.
Eastman has worked primarily as a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, and educator in Vancouver for five years. With the onset of the pandemic, he’s added founder of a non-profit to that list, after seeing firsthand how a lack of income only furthered the marginalization of artists already underrepresented in the industry.
Without access to usual resources and networks, artists are left without support or time to do what they love, perpetuating a cycle of burnout that has left scars on their mental, spiritual, and emotional health. He started Helm to help artists in his community survive the pandemic and thrive as professional musicians.
Without any income from shows, and already feeling the pressure of being marginalized and underrepresented in the mainstream Canadian music industry, they were suffering to pay their bills and make their art. Without support or time to do what they love, many creatives got sucked into a cycle of burnout that left scars on their mental, spiritual, and emotional health.
Helm provides subsidized studio time to artists, with preference given to uplifting BIPOC, LGBTQ2S+, and women in music, working from the understanding that low-income folks exist on an intersection of identities that influence their access to the music industry. The non-profit is a stepping stool to equitable access for people of all identities and backgrounds.
Eastman’s goal was never to make money, but he is surprised by how huge of a burden financial insecurity has been since Helm incorporated earlier this year.
Months after receiving an initial wave of community donations, Helm is struggling to pay the bills without operational support. The organization relies on “a huge amount of volunteer hours” and constant client support to make its bottom line. That’s Helm’s secondary goal, the first being to meet its mission of providing low-income artists with studio time.
Eastman, who had no previous non-profit experience, had to take out a $5,000 loan and make a “considerable investment” of thousands more to launch Helm Studios. He estimates it would take about $80,000 to fund the studio’s operations for the whole year, but after being repeatedly rejected for operational support and lacking corporate investors, there’s no way of knowing if Helm will reach that goal.
The result is that people like Eastman don’t get paid, even when they pour themselves into working overtime for a cause they believe in.
“As someone who’s living paycheque to paycheque, it’s scary to be like, now my costs are doubled or tripled in order to set these things up,” he says.
Other arts non-profit leaders across the country are in the same position. With public guidelines against mass gatherings came a financial crisis for the arts sector, including the non-profits who relied on ticket sales and audience engagement to survive. Many of those groups have adapted or shut down since last spring, but the Canadian grant system remains unchanged. The barriers that were keeping people out years ago still stand today.
Rethinking the federal approach to funding
Bernadette Johnson is the director of advocacy and knowledge mobilization at Imagine Canada, an organization dedicated to supporting non-profits and charities across the country through research and advocacy. She says this resistance to change creates a weak relationship between the government and the non-profit arts sector.
“It’s not intentional. It’s become what we call benign neglect,” she says. “It’s not an enabling relationship. It’s a ‘you can do this or you can’t’ relationship.”
It should be a strategic relationship, Johnson says. In the mid-90s, there were major cuts to arts sector and advocacy funding, among other subsections, marking the end of a “trust-based” relationship and beginning a stricter, more project-based one.
Project-based funding is often a one-time payment for one-time expenses like venue booking, gear rental, and promotions, while operational funding covers expenses like rent and wages. Often, non-profits survive off of sporadic, unreliable project-based grants, unable to attain operational support they need to survive.
Money appears to go to the organizations that are already at the top of the class ladder the most, since they have a financial record and organizational support necessary to run a non-profit. That makes them a low-risk, high-reward investment for funders, who can enjoy these relationships while small grassroots organizations shutter in defeat.
“There’ve been a series of attempts to change that grants and contributions approach and make it better. But you can tweak that system as much as you want. It’s not going to replace the government caring about the sector and investing in the sector,” says Johnson.
She and her peers at Imagine Canada suggest that the arts non-profit sector be given a “home in government” and associated minister. They have been rallying the federal department of finance for this with no luck for years.
“There’s nowhere the sector can turn to to have conversations about what it needs. There’s no one to encourage [Statistics Canada] to conduct research on the sector. We don’t know how many non-profits we have in the country. We don’t know their skills. We don’t know who they’re staffed by,” says Johnson.
There are consultants that help organizations run effectively, but that requires money overworked and underpaid staff are already desperate to keep. They’re often busy managing accounting, human resources, and fundraising while juggling constant financial insecurity.
To people without ample money, time, and education, starting a non-profit can be intimidating. Founders have to federally or provincially incorporate, register as a society, get a business license, and potentially acquire and operate space. Then they need a board of directors and to follow Robert’s Rules and the Societies Act, which regulate how to hold meetings and conduct business, respectively.
Finally, when the organization is all set up, the executive director has to ensure the non-profit can carry out its mission. Non-profits are regulated through the CRA’s Income Tax Act, with legislation managed through Revenue Canada. Getting corporate taxes handled by a professional costs at least $2,500.
All of that takes resources many grassroots organizers don’t have. Running a non-profit can easily become an unpaid, full-time job, but it’s not just financial issues that are the problem. The amount of paperwork and understanding of legal and business jargon necessary to start a non-profit is already unreasonable for the average person.
Eastman says there needs to be better access to information about where funding is available for non-profits. Instead of filling out a form, he suggests that funders have conversations with potential recipients so they can express their intentions and skill sets face to face.
“Filling out forms is such an impersonal experience, and it does in a way limit access. You have to know legalese. You have to know what jurors want and sometimes have connections. They want an established financial history, which caters to people with amassed wealth. It’s not really designed for people just starting out or people facing systemic oppression. They have to have roles that are actually meaningful.”
Making the process personal makes it more accessible, he says.
“The arts are always on the chopping block. It’s such a weirdly commodified industry that is also seen as having no benefit to capitalism. We’re in a weird position where funding is making jobs and supporting non profits, but […] helping marginalized people make music doesn’t stimulate the economy in the way that they want. It’s a big risk and fight to keep it going,” says Eastman.
“I can’t do this forever, and it’s very new, so I understand that, but there’s no middle ground between me volunteering and giving more of myself than I can or going into for-profit and only serving people who have the funds. Bridging that gap is really important.”
Johnson says organizations were able to build their capacity over the previous summer, largely due to provincial and federal emergency support. It’s important to keep that support going if those groups are to stay alive, and it’s past time to loosen up eligibility requirements for operational funding applications, as far as she’s concerned.
“That relates to the operational funding issue because the response in the sector has been program top-ups, but those are just more program-related expenses. There might be 10 to 15 per cent administrative coverage, which is not enough, and it’s not core operational support, which is what they’re really needing.”
Non-profits are being strangled by what Johnson refers to as “the overhead myth.”
“There’s a myth that organizations, in order to be impactful, should have the smallest amount of overhead expenses possible, and that the more overhead they have the more wasteful they are, which is not true,” she says.
“That leads to organizations feeling they need to trim their overhead as much as possible, which leads to things like the starvation cycle […]. Staff are covering more operational areas than they usually would, which is leading to staff burnout, and most volunteers haven’t returned.”
When leaders are constantly occupied keeping the ship afloat, they can’t stop to talk about long-term sustainability, development, or fundraising. It’s an environment that sets people up to fail if they don’t have savings to fall back on.
Providing operational support from the bottom up
Mike Grogan is the president and CEO of IntegralOrg, a charity that helps non-profits increase their organizational capacity. IntegralOrg offers resources and workshops on foundational areas like governance, financial management, and strategic planning.
He agrees that the current system for giving out operational support in Canada “is not working already.” The pandemic took attention away from the sector as funders rushed to meet more immediate concerns—a loss big companies with deep pockets could take. Smaller, less established organizations got lost in the fray, without brand recognition or major partnerships to keep them afloat.
Small organizations need to develop a solid business model, he suggests. That will encourage funders to give them critical operational support.
“Passion doesn’t make it a viable business model,” he says.
“Small organizations tend to lack a) the funding to do it and b) the access to people to be able to do that. If you’re an institution or government funder, remove some of those barriers. Bring tools [… and] perhaps do it collaboratively.”
Relying on private donations isn’t working now, since people are being careful with their money during the pandemic. Grogan can’t see a short-term solution, but in the long term, he hopes the government will invest in “changing the people and the public’s perception of the arts.”
“Do that and the funding will follow,” he says.
“Ten years ago mental health was not talked about. Now it’s probably the top two or three funded areas in the non-profit sector. It’s changed in enormous ways. 30 years ago environmentalism was fringe, but it’s gotten up too.”
His vision of the immediate future seems stark and bleak, but perhaps realistic. Non-profits shouldn’t be waiting for things to “return to normal” because they might run out of money before that happens, he advises. Through his work, he has seen arts non-profits drop like flies over recent months.
“We are winding down more non-profits than we ever have. We’re also starting up probably twice as many.”
“For arts organizations this is a multiyear downturn, not a sudden downturn, and there are going to be casualties. The loss of those things you probably don’t feel overnight. You feel them over time, but it’s not like they go away forever. As you go through this period of destruction, opportunities arise. People see a need and start something up.”
When the time comes to start anew in the arts non-profit sector, he hopes the government will give groups the operational support they need to continue to do important work across the country.
“If you’re just stressed keeping the doors open one more day, it’s hard to step back and say let’s do some work on some of the foundations,” says Grogan.
Creating new opportunities to uplift the next generation
Matthew White is the CEO at Victoria Symphony, a registered non-profit, but he started his career as a professional opera and concert singer. He did that successfully for 20 years before moving into arts administration in Seattle, Vancouver, and Victoria. He came to “very much understand the idea of not having operational funding” after personally financing and producing an opera in Montreal that was “his dream.”
“When you’re a company that doesn’t have all that funding, then the buck has to stop somewhere, and it’s often at the person at the heart of the creative vision,” he says.
Now, in his role with Victoria Symphony, he is enjoying the benefits of receiving consistent operational funding for the first time. Victoria Symphony gets roughly a third of its money from the government, a third from donors, and a third from direct revenue. Without operational funding, he says the operas and ballets they produce wouldn’t be possible.
“I think the thing to remember about operational funding is that it’s meant to provide stability,” White points out.
“When you’ve got a company that’s perhaps younger or just starting out, it doesn’t have operational funding, which means it doesn’t have some of those funds that any organization needs so it can start planning for the future and not just focus on the needs of today.”
He says the solution isn’t to “take the current pie and cut it up into more and smaller pieces.” Instead, the federal and provincial governments need to invest in creating a “much bigger pie” for the arts and culture sector. By adopting a similar approach to what has been done in Europe, Canada could broaden and diversify its pool of operational funding recipients.
“It is absolutely vital that there are larger-scale organizations in every given community so we can still have access to things like contemporary opera and ballet dance and some legacy music-making. The government should continue to fund them, but I think it’s also really important to recognize that there’s a whole new generation of artistic voices there that need support.”
He has been arguing for years that the arts are an economic engine. Investing in the arts creates economic activity and pays for itself, according to various studies, articles, and reports. Still, White says that should be the government’s secondary concern, after the value that art-making brings to people’s lives.
“When you look at how much money is invested in arts and culture as a proportion of the entire budget, it’s absolutely negligible,” he says. “If you stop investing in arts and culture, it’s going to result in a cultural desert that’s going to make everybody feel less good about being alive.”
Without the special funding that the government provided them, such as the wage subsidy program, he estimates Victoria Symphony would have downsized to a third of its normal operations. The organization provides living wages for 35 musicians plus staff who rely on that support, and he’s grateful to have it.
“This shouldn’t be a situation of pitting larger organizations against smaller ones, because we’re all really part of the same community. It should be about providing more support all around because I think an ecosystem needs people at every single level to find ways of funding creative and smart and capable artists at the beginning of their careers, and you need to find ways of supporting established organizations,” he says.
How do you summarize the music made in a year like 2020? The act of ranking artists or describing a short list of releases as “the best” of any given time period has always been an exclusionary task, and doing so in a time when the world has been completely upended by a global pandemic simply feels impossible. Instead, we’ve decided to celebrate our favourite songs handpicked by seven different New Feeling writers with the intention of being as subjective as possible, while raising up a multitude of voices that you might not hear about anywhere else. This is the music that soothed us during countless moments of anxiety, channelled our anger, and pumped us up when we needed to push back. Read on and press play through an unordered list in reverse alphabetical order followed by our personal top 10s.
Zoon – “Landscapes” (Paper Bag | Hamilton, ON)
Repeating, dazed guitars are the amber holding “Landscapes” together, as if the song were a moment of saccharine stillness that glimmers over and over. Songwriter Daniel Monkman emphasizes the restlessness within that inertia to craft a sense of tension and unease that never quite gets a release, fading out before it ever finds a resolution. (Michael Rancic)
I don’t think a music video has affected me more than Jonah Yano’s “shoes.” Its accompanying single is a collaboration between two generations, with Yano supplying vocals over a recording of his father, Tatsuya Muraoka, playing a Japanese bar in the late ’90s. Soundtracking their reunion after 15 years (footage of which is placed at the end of the video), “shoes” is a tender, hopeful, and generous look into the complexity of a late-blossoming father-son relationship. (Katerina Stamadianos)
WUT – “White Walls” (Self Released | Vancouver, BC)
An eviction crisis always looms over Vancouver’s DIT venues, but the threat felt imminent at the beginning of 2020. A groundswell of crowdfunding campaigns rose up as grassroots artist-run centres struggled to cover the costs of surging property taxes. Among those organizations was the Toast Collective, which WUT bassist/vocalist Tracy Vath helps run. The gummy, deceptively twee “White Walls” sums up anxieties about losing arts spaces to sterile coffee shops. In Low Tide Properties‘ new utopia, community comes at the cost of libraries, food banks, artist centres, and social housing. Fending off real estate vultures is a daily chore, but through song and organizing, WUT are up to the task. (Leslie Ken Chu)
Wares – “Tall Girl” (Mint | Edmonton, AB)
Like all of the songs on Survivor, “Tall Girl” is a beautifully mixed cocktail of instrumentation. Each time I listen, I find myself isolating all of the different instruments and tones, while appreciating how perfectly they work and interact with one another. It’s mixed very well. Cassia Hardy has assembled the perfect band to communicate such a beautifully written song. “Tall Girl” is a gut wrenching gateway to a larger, cohesive album, which is easily her best work yet. (Lenore Maier)
TiKA – “Sideways” (Next Door | Montreal, QC)
“Sideways” opens with glistening chimes and vibrant acoustic guitar chords. But thunderous drums blow through dissonant sirens and sax, threatening to sink the levity like a sonic manifestation of the insecurities that plagued TiKA when she wrote the song. Stemming from a period of confusion and shame over a friendship she felt she ruined, the title refers to feeling lopsided without the other person. “Sideways” is a creative watershed for TiKA and a monument to her life changes: rebuilding her confidence; learning to love herself, including coming out as queer; and relocating from Toronto to Montreal. She initially feared “Sideways” was too emotionally raw, but as her current path shows, if she continues to follow her instincts, she can only find herself in high places and in even higher spirits. (Leslie Ken Chu)
sydanie – “Purple Carousel” (Self Released | Toronto, ON)
“Purple Carousel” is a blink-and-it’s-over drum and bass hit that has not gotten its due respect this year. sydanie twists and turns through a relationship of urgent intimacy, celebrating a love “hyperactive” and “reactive.” But instead of falling into the wormhole typical of a passionate love story, she narrates a course toward self-assuredness: “I’m seeing what you see in me/ Put your lips on my body when I say yes.” Coupled with Casey MQ’s energizing production, “Purple Carousel” deserves to be played loud. And while it may not have gotten the chance to blare out of club speakers yet, it’s time to replicate that feeling from the comfort of your home. (Katerina Stamadianos)
Scott Hardware – “Joy” (Telephone Explosion | Toronto, ON)
“Joy” lifts off in its opening seconds and never stops rocketing skywards. The soaring centerpiece of Scott Hardware’s Engel is propelled by the relentless disco hi-hats of drummer Jonathan Pappo, cresting into peaks of sublime strings and hammered keys from the palette of piano house. Scott’s vocals are filled with both a sense of awe and a pleading desperation, revealing that his arduous search for personal passion is one aimed inwards: “I dig my hands into the dirt/ And my hands to the centre of the earth/ In search of my joy.” (Jesse Locke)
Cedric Noel – “Nighttime (Skin)” (Self Released | Montreal, QC)
Cedric Noel’s “Nighttime (Skin)” is a celebration. As he told Aquarium Drunkard, “It’s a reminder for me that I’m Black and to be proud of that.” Cyclically, a mighty wave of distorted guitar chords carries you to deep waters where you float, blissfully, while your ears ring because of your mode of transportation. In the song’s quiet verses, Noel’s words feel even louder than the preceding instrumentation. Filled with tenderness and gratitude, he meditates on his identity and sings, with awe-inspiring results, “But I am still in love with how I parade my worth around/ The nighttime sinks as I come out/ Skin so black!/ I am proud!” (Laura Stanley)
LXVNDR – “Purple Punk” (Self Released | Charlottetown, PEI)
Fusing a tinny, distorted guitar hook with hypnotic bass and drums, “Purple Punk” is an edgy groover that LXVNDR gracefully, confidently dominates. The lyrics take stock of great personal challenges, using them as an opportunity for growth. LXVNDR cuts through these trials and deceptions with an unyielding focus, at once charming and compelling. (Michael Rancic)
Juniper Bush – “Hindsight” (Transistor | Winnipeg, MB)
“Hindsight” embodies everything I love about so many Manitoba bands: unassuming, instantly classic, and seemingly indifferent to whether or not the world takes notice. Juniper Bush gives the assurance that the torches once held by bands like My Bloody Valentine and Garbage are burning bright in Winnipeg. (Lenore Maier)
Foisy. – “Mémoires II” (Nord Est | Montreal, QC)
On the closing track of Marc-André Foisy’s debut LP, he shakes off the album’s worth of dust that has accumulated. In the nine preceding, shyly delivered songs, Foisy. is haunted by the ghosts of his past. He spends much of his time hiding, watching, and figuring out how to set them free. But the Montreal musician stands up tall on “Mémoires II,” shaking his head and opening the windows. He is not fully free – “Je partirai sans que tu vois/ Je partirai mais je reste ici avec toi,” he admits in the final verse – but something feels different. Foisy’s voice remains soft, but a cacophony of jubilant screams and the winding frenzy of a repetitive piano melody ignite him. The sense of urgency is electric and may inspire you to let go of your own ghosts. (Laura Stanley)
Marie Davidson & L’Œil Nu – “Renegade Breakdown” (Ninja Tune/Bonsound | Montreal, QC)
Marie Davidson introduces a bold about-face on the title track from Renegade Breakdown. While its pumping beats and burbling bass may be familiar to fans of the Montreal musician’s steely electronic productions, she reinvents herself as a theatrical glam-rock chanteuse guided by the guitar pyrotechnics of longtime collaborator Asaël Robitaille. Davidson’s sneering, sloganeering lyrics make it clear how disinterested she is in being pigeonholed into a single sound: “I’ll tell it to your face, once and for all/ My life is anti-strategic.” (Jesse Locke)
Dressing the stage with the distant howls of a pack of wolves, a sampled chant from Zambian singer Angela Nyirenda, and a narcotic hook from Devi McCallion (Black Dresses), hearing Backxwash bound across it all to serve a battle-ready protection spell against colonial snake oil magic is so sweet. “I told my mama that the devil got a place for me,” she raps, but then flips the Christian scripture: “I’m going to hell and then I bet you I’ll be safe for weeks.” Everything’s black and white here, but Backxwash fucks with that binary to underline its persuasive function and the way that’s used to control and subjugate (“my only option is devoting myself in minstrel”). That’s one hell of an exorcism. (Tom Beedham)
Floating in on a lazy river, the title track from Aquakultre’s debut album basks in sun-dappled introspection and starts spiralling: “I haven’t learned to fly,” Lance Sampson sings, “but the damage is done/ I’m trying to provide.” As responsibility dawns on him, the ensemble he’s built around himself – Nick Dourado, Jeremy Costello, Nathan Doucet – starts climbing to glorious heights, kicks off, and drifts back to earth with ecstatic style and grace that cushions its own landing. And then they’re right there ready to do it all over again. Aquakultre is family, and if this is Sampson’s legacy, it’s already a gift. (Tom Beedham)
New Feeling Members’ individual lists:
Laura Stanley The Weather Station – “Robber” John K Samson “Fantasy Baseball at the End of the World” Foisy. – “Mémoires II” Dana Gavanski – “Small Favours” Cedric Noel – “Nighttime (Skin)” Marlaena Moore – “I Miss You” Jennah Barry – “Roller Disco” Thanya Iyer – “Always, Be Together” Kathleen Edwards – “Glenfern” Yves Jarvis – “Victim”
Katerina Stamadianos sydanie – “Purple Carousel” Prince Josh – “The Joy” EX POM – “Allowed Here” Shababson, Krgovich and Harris – “Tuesday Afternoon” Pansy Boys – “Heart Shaped Silver Charm” Jonah Yano – “shoes” Blue Hawaii – “Not my Boss!” Ciel – “Hope Breaks” Yves Jarvis – “Victim”
Michael Rancic cry out – “Your Shame Not Mine” Backxwash – “Into The Void” crisis sigil – “away” Zoon – “Landscapes” Untradition – “40” LXVNDR – “Purple Punk” Ferrari Garden – “Currency” Dijah SB – “Just Be Cool” Aquakultre – “Wife Tonight” (Remix) Thanya Iyer – “Alien”
Lenore Maier Aladean Kheroufi – “Sorry if I Hurt You” Wares – “Tall Girl” Marlaena Moore – “I Miss You” TiKA – “Sideways” Matthew Cardinal – “Mar 12th” The Sadies – “The Most Despicable Man Alive” Hot Garbage – “Easy Believer” Lamb to Slaughter – “Taylor Jade” Juniper Bush – “Hindsight” Witch Prophet -“Musa”
Jesse Locke Aquakultre – “I Doubt It” U.S. Girls – “Four American Dollars” Shababson, Krgovich and Harris – “Friday Afternoon” TiKA – “Sideways” Marie Davidson – “Renegade Breakdown” Backxwash – “Stigmata” Scott Hardware – “Joy” Cindy Lee – “Heavy Metal” No Joy – “Nothing Can Hurt” Teenanger – “Straight To Computer”
Leslie Ken Chu FSHKLL – “Run-Out” Aquakultre – “Legacy” Alpen Glow – “DJ of Your Dreams” Hiroki Tanaka – “Snowdrops” TiKA – “Sideways” Le Couleur – “Silenzio” SBDC – “Every Drunk in the World” WUT – “White Walls” Zoon – “Help Me Understand” Sadé Awele – “Take It Easy”
Tom Beedham Lido Pimienta – “Nada” Backxwash – “Spells” Nap Eyes – “So Tired” Aquakultre – “Legacy” Nyssa – “anybodys” Jessica Moss – “Opened Ending” Jessy Lanza – “Anyone Around” Indweller – “Vessel” E-Saggila – “Cellygrin” Matthew Progress & Joel Eel – “General Motors”
It’s mid-November 2020, and if you’ve been paying close attention to New Feeling, you may be expecting a new issue on your digital doorstep. We’ve published two issues, Renewal and The Fear, on a monthly schedule, in line with our original intention to release a dozen issues in a calendar year. However, after some internal discussion and feedback from our community, we’ve decided to publish our third and final issue of 2020 in mid-December and pause any further publishing or solicitation of pitches going forward until we can sort out funding or a revenue stream.
We are in the midst of developing a long-term plan that allows us to properly compensate our membership, freelance writers, and any other work we contract out. New Feeling has been and continues to be an entirely volunteer-run organization, with no financial backing or revenue stream, but this was never intended to be our model for very long. We had originally opened up pitches for freelancers with an eye to providing people interested in joining the co-op but unable to help organize with a track toward membership and the collective ownership that comes with it. However, we now see that calling for freelance writers without compensation, however well-intentioned, was not in line with our values and mandate as a cooperative. In fact, it served to reinforce the structures of power that impede the progress of Canadian music media in the first place. The voluntary nature of our call led to an increased amount of pitches from predominantly white folks and did not reflect the representative writership needed of a truly equitable cooperative. We are also indebted to a community member who provided us with this valuable feedback and criticism as well as our steering committee for their reflections and input.
We’ve been trying to do something different with New Feeling, and our mandate has always been to work towards building a strong cooperative rooted in mutual respect, equity, and anti-oppressive principles. We have decided to shift our focus away from our editorial work for the time being to continue to challenge ourselves and strengthen our commitments to these principles.
We’re cognizant of and thinking through the ways in which a commitment to a regular publishing schedule has already influenced the decisions we make, and the areas in which this commitment has compelled us to compromise on what we value in order to publish within the time frame we’ve set for ourselves.
Stories have fallen through, sources have been delayed in ways that meant we’ve had to react quickly to meet our internal goals of both schedule and theme. This dynamic has led to members with the power and privilege of flexibility in their schedules, often those who are white and male, to take on more writing work. When we launched, the goal to publish monthly was one we set for ourselves that allowed and accounted for the amount of time our membership can contribute to a publication, and out of all of the rhythms established through organizing this co-op, it was perhaps the one we’ve fallen into the easiest.
But if the schedule is undermining our efforts to organize and publish in an equitable way, then it will change. What we’ve learned from this experience of publishing since September is informing how we move forward, because we’ve always intended for New Feeling to be flexible and responsive so that we can reinforce our commitment to providing equitable opportunities for our membership and publish the highest quality writing possible.
Going forward, we’ll be re-evaluating our publishing schedule in line with our budgetary needs to ensure what we publish is sustainable and doesn’t bind us to making decisions out of timeliness over decisions that are supportive of our members, writers and the subjects we tackle. We also know that offering compensation won’t do anything to shift the dynamic of writers reaching out to us alone— rather than waiting for them to come to us, we need to develop more intentional ways of connecting with new talent and voices.
Advertising-based revenue streams are symptomatic of the ecosystem that devalued our labour and a big part of what brought us all to developing New Feeling in the first place, so finding a model outside of that and one which works for us will take time but it is something we are committed to.
Developing New Feeling’s editorial arm has been exciting, but takes a high level of attention and care. At times, this has overshadowed the foundational work that needs to be done on the cooperative end. This includes the development of what ‘membership’ with New Feeling will look like, an important aspect of the cooperative model and a potential step towards financial sustainability. We’re also going to take this time to focus on the crucial work of developing the co-op and incorporating as a cooperative organization. We have decided to carry on with the release of our third issue because we are proud of its contents— and excited for you to read it!— and because it does not feature the labour of external freelancers.
We will be sure to provide updates on our progress via this website and on our social media.
We can’t thank everyone enough for their enthusiastic support for New Feeling’s editorial output. Seeing you engage with our writing, listening to the artists we’ve covered, and spreading the word about the cooperative has been a privilege. We’re excited to take this new direction and hope that you share in our enthusiasm for building something different.