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Province launches Quebec-only music policy in government buildings, phone lines


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MONTREAL — Don’t expect to hear Drake’s “Hotline Bling” next time you’re on hold with the Quebec government.

From now on, only music by Quebec artists will be played in provincial government buildings and on phone lines, with particular emphasis on French-language performers. The announcement came on Sunday from Quebec Culture Minister Nathalie Roy.

“The time for royalty-free elevator music is over,” Roy said at a press conference.

The policy change comes after Roy found herself “shocked” to hear an American singer warbling in English while she was on hold with the ministry she heads.

The move, which takes effect immediately, aims to promote local artists and channel more revenue their way.

The new rules specify that 90 per cent of music with lyrics must be in French, while 10 per cent should be in English or Indigenous languages, the minister’s office said.

SAQ and Loto-Québec locations are among those affected by the measure, which excludes events and concerts.

Solange Drouin, director general of the province’s main music trade group, the Association québécoise de l’industrie du disque, du spectacle et de la vidéo, said she hopes “this is only the beginning and that other people in the private sector follow suit.”

The government is also investing $1.1 million in a program to boost local musicians and singers who produced music during the COVID-19 pandemic, Roy said.

The Écoute mon album campaign, carried out in concert with the trade group, will consist of 80 television and web episodes featuring Quebec artists.

Interviews and musical extracts will accompany the clips as part of a measure highlighted in the economic recovery plan for the cultural sector launched by the government earlier this spring.

“The objective of the project is to introduce the general public to dozens of Quebec albums that came out during the pandemic and are about to come to life on stage,” Drouin said.

Quebec’s largest television broadcasters, including Ici Radio-Canada Télé, TVA and Noovo, will take part in the campaign.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2021.

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