The shared experience of CanCon, even if it is partly based on irritation, is a facet of our national identity. And isn’t that precisely what CanCon is for—nurturing Canadian identity?
We all grew up with at least a vague awareness of the complexities of Canadian content regulations, the set of laws that requires our radio stations (and other broadcasters) to dedicate roughly a third of their airtime to homegrown talent.
In principle, CanCon is cool: Encouraging radio stations to support Canadian artists who might otherwise struggle for exposure is a noble pursuit. In practice, it can be a pain in the ass—like when Q107 tees up its 10th Rush song of the day for instance. But there’s also a pretty fascinating unintended consequence to this national boosterism.
By elevating to semi-stardom certain artists we might otherwise have filed in the footnotes/afterthoughts bin, CanCon has created a fraternity among people who can name at least 16 Our Lady Peace songs or know all the words to “Black Velvet,” even if they don’t particularly like either.
That it manages to cut across cliques and personal preference is what gives this side effect some curious cultural value. How many of us have found ourselves heatedly explaining to some hapless American acquaintance that, actually, Maestro Fresh Wes is kind of a big deal? The shared experience, even if it is partly based on irritation, is a facet of our national identity. And isn’t that precisely what CanCon is for—nurturing Canadian identity?
If the price of a little unity is that The Tea Party got to make about four albums more than was necessary, I can live with that.