Who is getting the FACTOR money?

It’s a simple question, but getting any kind of macro view from FACTOR’s website isn’t so easy.

The site is great for looking up specific artists or record labels, but seeing how many artists from a certain province are getting funded — or the spread of all that funding — is next to impossible.

Since FACTOR’s website only allows you to see 10 entries at a time, here’s a look at the big picture via the magic of web scraping (after a callout on a Canadaland podcast)

For those who don't know, FACTOR is funded by private broadcasters and the Government of Canada. Through a number of programs, they provide grants for everything from music videos to demos to full-blown album budgets. There are a number of eligibility requirements for the different programs and you must cover some of the budget yourself (if you're interested visit their website).

Below is a breakdown of who has gotten money from FACTOR since the beginning of 2013. FACTOR’s new website does not list recipients before 2013, but (previously FACTOR-funded) musician/writer Paul Lawton copied 10 years of FACTOR data for 2003-2013 from FACTOR's old site if you’re curious. 

My main goal here is to illustrate, in broad terms, who is getting that FACTOR money. Looking at this data broken down by province and program, hopeful applicants can see, statistically, where the money has been going. Applying for FACTOR funding takes a lot of paperwork, so why not make sure artists who are vying for this money are as informed as possible?

Since the beginning of 2013, FACTOR has granted a total of $35 million to 1,822 artists, record labels and entertainment companies. Here’s what that looks like broken down by ‘recipient province’ — not necessarily where the artist is from, but where the cheque is going. Hence the appearance of American states in a program that funds Canadian music:

Ontario dominates. Quebec and British Columbia follow, each with about 1/3 of Ontario’s funding. Things go way down after that. Rounding out the list (but too small to be visible on that chart) are Minnesota ($21,950), Colorado ($17,425), Nunavut ($12,500), Northwest Territories ($3,920), Tennessee ($2,645) and $1,500 each to Baden-Würtemburg (in Germany) and the District of Columbia. 

Is this distribution just because way more Ontarians are applying than those in the prairies? And is that due to a lack of awareness, confusion over the grant process or otherwise? Ontario’s domination of FACTOR funding can't be rationalized just by looking at differences in population. One explanation is that labels getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding (i.e. Arts & Crafts, Paper Bag Records) are based in Toronto. 

Here’s the full picture of who’s been getting all the FACTOR money in the past three years:

Here are the top 10 recipients of FACTOR funding:

  1. Paper Bag Records $756,457.34
  2. Arts & Crafts $613,472.88
  3. Canadian Music Week $560,000
  4. CP Music Group $484,083
  5. POP Montreal $458,698
  6. Stomp Records/Union Label Group $443,357
  7. CARAS/The JUNO Awards $443,000
  8. Wax Records $413,062
  9. M for Montreal $410,000
  10. Six Shooter Records $350,263

So of these Top 10 we have six record label/management companies, three music festivals and one awards show. The bottom half of recipients get less than $3,000 in funding per submission.

And finally, here’s a breakdown by program type:

This breakdown might help sort out some misconceptions about FACTOR, or at least it helped sort out my own. I thought FACTOR's grants were mainly spent on recordings. But for the last three years, it’s touring that gets the most cash.

Bonus tidbit: Some big Canadian bands have a sense of humour when it comes to naming the corporations that recieve FACTOR funding. Get Paid Inc. got Stars paid over $65,000. 

I don't think FACTOR should be obliterated, and this post is more in the spirit of transparency than criticism (though are the JUNOs really a big help for independent musicians?). You can download the full spreadsheet here.


Colin Harris is on Twitter if you have any questions.