Recent uproar from Canadian comedians over JFL/Sirius partnership an eye-opening experience for Vancouver-based record label
604 Records inspired by industry commitment and solidarity to expand comedy division, ‘Comedy Here Often?’ into a hub for Canadian comedy
Vancouver, BC (March 1st, 2019) – In the wake of a stressful week that nearly spelled an end to a major source of income for Canadian comics through the restructuring of Sirius XM Canada’s ‘Canada Laughs’ channel to ‘Just for Laughs Radio’, Canada’s comedy industry is being more vocal about its struggles than ever before.
“Thank you to Just For Laughs, Bruce Hills, and SiriusXM for listening to the outpouring of concern from the independent Canadian comedy community, and for doing the right thing” says Jonathan Simkin, President of 604 Records.
Regardless of JFL reversing their decision to play old showcases and other JFL owned content, it has become more than obvious that something still needs to change. The hope is there will be a continued movement towards legitimizing the industry in Canada.
“Canadian comedians won’t be Canadian comedians if they can’t afford to be comedians in Canada,” tweeted Canadian, Toronto based actor Jay Baruchel. “You can swap out the word “comedians” and replace it with any art/creative gig and it still works! Culture requires appetite and infrastructure.”
604 Records has also been listening to Canadian comedians and hears them loud and clear. The Canadian comedy community has expressed that they are looking to the music industry for support and the Vancouver label is ready to step up to the plate.
“One thing this experience showed me is just how fragile and vulnerable the infrastructure of independent comedy in Canada is” said Simkin, who was blown away by the comedy communities incredible show of unity in the last week. “Getting Sirius to reverse their decision was a huge accomplishment which was the result of the efforts of many people working together. But now is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. Now is the time to apply the lessons we have learned. We need to build on this by building an infrastructure that won’t collapse because of the actions of any one third party entity”.
604 Records has become a champion for Canadian comedy, having built up their comedy arm to include some of the country’s best talent. Now more than ever, it is showing solidarity with the industry.
“We have decided we want to do more to support our countries comedians” says Simkin. “We are proud to say that effective immediately we will be expanding our ‘Comedy Here Often?’ YouTube channel to include third party content from many independent comedians in Canada. We will continue to put out our own exclusive content, but we will proudly feature non-CHO content as well. We will do fair revenue splits. And if anyone has proposals, we will entertain anything from one off sketches to web series to podcasts. We know now we cannot count on third parties. So, let’s count on ourselves. Let’s build alternative destinations for comedy to be seen and monetized.”
604 Records is also proud to announce that they will be introducing a ‘Comedy Here Often?’ podcast series that will be broadcast out of the 604 Studios in Vancouver. The first podcast will be live streamed on March 7, 2019 at 5pm PST via their Facebook and YouTube channels and subsequently distributed on all podcast platforms. It will feature comedy producer Kevin “Kevvy” Maher, comedians Erica Sigurdson and Kevin Banner, and President of 604 Records, Jonathan Simkin.
“We want to talk about where we go from here,” expressed Simkin regarding the first topic to be discussed on the new ‘Comedy Here Often?’ Podcast. “Do we just go back to life as it was? Or do we heed the signs and work towards a new way of doing things? This has been one hell of a week! And we want it to be the beginning of a new way of doing comedy business in Canada.”
To submit material or proposals for the Comedy Here Often? YouTube channel, please visit comedeyhereoften.com.
Please see below for a full statement from 604 Records President Jonathan Simkin:
I want to start this statement by thanking Just For Laughs, Bruce Hills, and SiriusXM for listening to the outpouring of concern from the independent Canadian comedy community, and for doing the right thing. Like everyone in that community, we were disheartened and demoralized to hear about the changes at Canada Laughs, and are ecstatic at the news of this reversal. At the same time, we want to make sure that we are learning the right lessons from what has transpired, so that we can apply those lessons going forward. One thing this experience showed me is just how fragile and vulnerable the infrastructure of independent comedy in Canada is. I do not want to underestimate or undervalue the contribution of Canada Laughs to the comedy scene in Canada. There is a reason people reacted the way they did. Canada Laughs has been both a primary source of income and exposure. But we need to work to create more destinations for independent comedians to be heard and monetized. We need to learn how to not put all our eggs into any one basket. To me, this decision is but a reprieve. The comedy community has shown an incredible amount of unity in the last week. We need to build on this by building an infrastructure that won’t collapse because of the actions of any one third party entity.
In the spirit of supporting all independent comedy in Canada, and creating alternative destinations for Canadians to enjoy Canadian comedy, we are excited to announce that effective immediately we will be expanding our Comedy Here Often? YouTube channel to include third-party content from independent comedians in Canada. We will continue to put out our own exclusive content of course, but we will also proudly feature
non-Comedy Here Often? content as well. We are open to any sort of reasonable proposals. And we will do this with fair revenue splits. So, if you have some content that you are putting on your site and you want some extra support, feel free to send it to us for consideration. If you have some ideas for sketch comedy, we are all ears. We will entertain anything from proposals for comedy-related podcasts to proposals for web series. And we will support other people’s initiatives as well.
We are also proud to announce that we will be introducing Comedy Here Often? podcast series that will be broadcast out of the 604 Studios in Vancouver. We want this to be a combination of entertainment and education. The first podcast will be live streamed on March 7,
2019at 5pmPST via our Facebook and YouTube and subsequently distributed on all podcast platforms. It will feature comedy producer Kevin “Kevvy” Maher, Erica Sigurdson, Kevin Banner, and myself, Jonathan Simkin. We want to talk about where we go from here. Do we just go back to life as it was? Or do we heed the signs and work towards a new way of doing things? This has been one hell of a week! And we want it to be the beginning of a new way of doing comedy business in Canada. To submit material of proposals for the Comedy Here Often? YouTube channel, please visit comedeyhereoften.com.