The Alberta Recording Arts Foundation was founded in 1980 by Bob McCord from CISN Radio in accordance to the licensing agreement that was required by the CRTC for radio broadcasting. This led to the incorporation of the Alberta Recording Industries Association (ARIA) in 1984 under the Societies Act of Alberta. Its official mandate was to “participate and assist in the overall development and improvement of the Alberta and Canadian recorded music industry, especially as it relates to Alberta.”
The office was in the basement of the CISN radio station in Edmonton and employed one administrative assistant. In early 1986 ARIA presented “The David Foster Songwriting Contest”, opening it up to all Alberta artists providing they were members of ARIA. Needless to say, ARIA quickly gained 1,000 members, consisting largely of artists from the industry. The contest continued for another two years but then, ARIA changed their annual event to a provincial awards show.
As funds came in, more educational seminars were presented providing our members with the opportunity to meet and talk with industry pro’s from around the country.
In 1996 ARIA moved to the Energy Square Building in Edmonton and hired a part time Executive Director. Together with an administrative assistant, they shared office space with three other companies. The Executive Director was also the E.D. of another non-profit music association. This proved to be a good marriage with the ability to collaborate on projects and share certain costs.
The criteria of who was eligible to be a full member changed at that time to consisting of incorporated business members only. Artists were no longer allowed to become members who had voting rights or could hold a position on the Board unless they owned and operated a limited company. Therefore studios, record labels, publishers and distributors made up the majority of the board with the business membership fee priced at $250.00/yr.
From 1995 to 1999 ARIA collaborated with the music industry associations of Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan and staged independent music festivals and conferences known as the All Indie Weekend. With this common project, these three industry associations worked in tandem toward the shared vision of developing the infrastructure of the independent music industry in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
After four successful All Indie Weekends, these MIA’s decided to join forces and resources to create a new entity in further promoting prairie music to the world, calling it the Prairie Music Alliance Inc. (May 1999).
In 2001 ARIA ratified the by-laws changing the criteria for membership. Full members with voting rights and consideration for Board positions constituted…“those companies and individuals whose principal source of income is earned from the following activities in the Alberta music industry: Artists, songwriters, publicists/promoters, producers, engineers, studios, labels, publishers, distributors, artists managers, public broadcasters.”
The Associate and Sustaining Memberships were introduced at that time as well.
The Western Canadian Music Alliance Inc. (January 2003) was formed in late 2002 when the Prairie Music Alliance expanded, inviting the Music Industry Associations of BC and the Yukon to join forces in creating a new entity. The vision of developing the infrastructure of a regional music industry is intact and now shared across these five provinces.
Fast forward to May of 2006 which witnessed ARIA moving into its own office and able to afford the employ of a full time Executive Director along with a full time administrative assistant.
In October of 2007 the members of the Alberta Recording Industries Association voted to change the name to the Alberta Music Industry Association. This was in line with other music industry associations in the country who were striving to be looked upon as an all inclusive resource for the music industry.
Currently, Alberta Music has a permanent staff of five, with offices in Edmonton and Calgary. The organization frequently runs information sessions and workshops, provides financial tour support, assistance in attending festival/conferences and produces showcase opportunities for artists at events like Canadian Music Week (Toronto), The Great Escape (Brighton) and Reeperbahn (Hamburg).