Montréal is a music city

published on September 17, 2019
Tourisme Montréal: News and People What's New in Montréal

Montréal is a hotspot of knowledge, fashion and the arts, and a key part of the city’s international reputation is its music. With a vibrant music scene blasting off in the earliest days of jazz to internationally-beloved indie, top tier classical, ballet and opera to cutting-edge electronica and vibrantly diverse world music communities, the streets of the city beat to a unique rhythm that’s entirely Montréal’s own.

A place to play

Montréal’s music venues offer a room suited for any form of expression, from petite venues like Casa del Popolo (recent performers include Montréal experimental harpist Sarah Pagé), the mid-size MTELUS (hosting shows by the likes of Father John Misty and Robyn), and the Bell Centre stadium (featuring acts like Radiohead, Elton John, and six sold out shows by local chanteuse turned international superstar Céline Dion in autumn 2019). Classical venues like the architectural gem the Maison symphonique de Montréal and other halls at Place des Arts offer consistently sold out seasons of repertoire, new compositions and thrilling experimentation.

A place to create

According to the report The Mastering of a Music City by  the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the non-profit Music Canada trade organization created to represent Canadian labels, distributors and promoters, the first step in fostering local music is in ensuring music-friendly and musician-friendly policies, ranging from venue support to affordable housing for practicing artists. And given Montréal’s affordability, rich offering of performance spaces and an ingrained love of music, it’s easy to see why so many musicians call the city home, with easily accessible world-class studios like Hotel2Tango and Breakglass keep the tapes rolling on the sounds of the city. The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) even named Montréal’s Mile End neighbourhood as a Music Creation Capital, with more composers and royalty-earning songwriters per capita than anywhere else in the country.

A city of festivals and events

Without exaggeration, on any given week in Montréal there’s a festival or three in progress, offering a multitude of musical options to satisfy any palette. Heavy hitters include the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal (marking its 41th anniversary in 2020), the indie-savvy outdoor fests Osheaga and metal-tastic HEAVY MONTRÉAL. Those craving DJ beats can dance the summer away at Piknic Électronik (and continue the party in suitable winter clothing at Igloofest). Left-field and experimental upstarts like Suoni per il Popolo and the queer-centric Slut Island bring the newest sounds to town, while POP Montreal and Mutek showcase up and coming artists in indie and electronica. Festival International Nuits d’Afrique puts music from the African diaspora on the main stage while Les FrancoFolies de Montréal fills the Quartier des Spectacles with 250 concerts of French language music.

A place to learn

Ranked as the Top Student City in the Americas for the third year running, Montréal is also a student city, full of fresh ideas and youthful energy. And institutions like McGill University’s celebrated Schulich School of Music and Concordia’s Department of Music’s programs in contemporary composition, jazz and electroacoustics are preparing the experimentalists of tomorrow for the world stage.

We built this city

Music’s role in Montréal has made it not just a major part of the city’s cultural composition, but also a major economic contributor. Starting with a core, thriving music scene built on support, performance space, engaged audiences and a framework of record labels and other facilitators, the benefits have long changed the face of the city. And more than just a place to create for locals, Montréal is also a place to gather for musical professionals and lovers. Here’s some of the other benefits music has brought to Montréal:

  • Music tourism pulls in international visitors for performances, festivals and the opportunity to see Montréal’s music scene up close.
  • Major events like OPERA America’s annual conference, held in Montréal in 2016 bring international professionals together, in the process building a bridge with local talent.
  • Attracting musicians to make their home in Montréal, fostering growth and further collaboration.
  • Growing Montréal’s international standing, reputation and brand as a city of music.

And all of that sounds pretty good indeed.

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