The Duncan Factor

Duncan McKie Image

By Sandy Graham


FACTOR, The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent on Recordings, was founded in 1982 by CHUM Limited, Moffat Communications and Rogers Broadcasting Limited, in conjunction with the Canadian Independent Record Producers Association (CIRPA) and the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA). As a private non-profit organization, FACTOR is dedicated to providing assistance toward the growth and development of the Canadian independent recording industry. The foundation administers contributions from sponsoring radio broadcasters as well as two components of the Department of Canadian Heritage’s Canada Music Fund to support the Canadian music industry.


FACTOR has been managing federal funds since the inception of the Sound Recording Development Program in 1986 (now known as the Canada Music Fund Council).
Support is provided to Canadian recording artists, songwriters, managers, labels and distributors through various programs which all aid in the development of the industry. Whether an artist is looking to record a demo, full length sound recording, market and promote an already existing album or showcase and tour domestically and internationally, funding is available. FACTOR supports many facets of the infrastructure which must be in place in order for artists and Canadian labels to progress into the international arena. FACTOR started out with an annual budget of $200,000 and is currently providing in excess of $14 million annually to support the Canadian music industry.


On April 1, 2011 FACTOR implemented their new guidelines, websites and programs, under the direction of the newly appointed President, Duncan McKie. Cashbox Canada had the opportunity to speak to McKie for a personal insight into his vision for FACTOR in the impending future.


CB: The biggest concern ‘on the street’ is that with changes in programs and funding that there could possibly be a cancellation of certain applications that would affect or eliminate the ‘indy artist’?
Duncan McKie: We will not be making any changes to our budgets until next year. We have new policies, as it was time for a change. My attitude is I want to have an open door policy. There is an infinite capacity for new ideas and I want the lines of communication to be open. I welcome calls and inquiries and FACTOR staff is available for anyone who needs assistance or guidance.


CB: You spent many years in the statistics and negotiations part of the business; as CBC Head of Audience Research for English Networks, TVO Ontario and with BBM Radio directly or indirectly in research of regulatory affairs. How do you see this benefiting your new role as President of FACTOR?
Duncan McKie: I spent a considerable amount of time working in negotiations and statistics, and not necessarily the music side. I think I was the best equipped person to take over the position as it was time for a change. I am excited about the future, and look forward to the challenges and successes I anticipate for both FACTOR and myself.


CB: The FACTOR building is for sale. Naturally after the purchase and renovation of such a large building, why would it be up for sale at this present time?
Duncan McKie: We need to back in the downtown core. FACTOR needs to be in the heartbeat of downtown Toronto. We have young musicians, talent and music industry people who do not have easy access to where we are located at the present time.  It will be re-energizing to be back in the downtown hub.


CB: You were the President of CIMA (CIRPA) and it was surprising after building it into the company it is at that the present time, you left to go to FACTOR. What was your reasoning behind that move?
Duncan McKie: I don’t see it is a job change, but rather as a ‘transfer’. The Canadian music industry is really quite small, so I just feel I made a move to yet another area and not really a job change. I was truthfully looking for a challenge, and FACTOR presented that to me at this time. I went through this same thing in my previous jobs. After the 50th time of doing the same negotiations, it can be quite mundane. Where do you go when you reach that state? I have a good relationship with the broadcast people and look forward to building more on that area in the very near future. I have had extensive experience in managing on the private and public sectors and I feel this will be a huge asset to FACTOR.


CB: Whats going to happen to FACTOR’s National Advisory Board? Is there a cutback and membership reduced?
Duncan McKie: Again, we will not be making any major changes until the new year. We need to work on getting advice on how to service the country and to take it seriously as to what part FACTOR has in moving forward to give us a positive step in the new media.


CB: What does the future hold in your vision for FACTOR?
Duncan McKie: We need to bring FACTOR up to speed. Next year will be pivotal in the future of this business. We need to re-examine major programs, make sure FACTOR is doing what it is supposed to be doing. We need to ask could we do better, are clients ‘over asking’ in their budgets? We need to tighten things up, be more careful, ask for verification of funds issued. It will all be a new approach. That is why I created a new position of VP Operations for Allison Outhit. As a client she understands the programs and the process. As a record company executive (Outside Music) artist manager, and an expert in licensing, she also understands the challenges being faced by Canada’s domestic music organizations. This is a brand new position, and it was time to make serious changes in the way FACTOR was being operated.  Allison Outhit is part of that transition to help us meet the challenges of a new digital music model, and her input and organizational skills will be invaluable.


CB: What advice would you give up and coming artists?
DUNCAN MCKIE: Three things: Don’t suck. Get a van. Remember it is hard work so commit yourself. Oh and one more thing; get a good lawyer.


CB: What progress would you like to see the Canadian music scene make while you are at FACTOR?
DUNCAN MCKIE: I would like to see artists make the most of their inventory, media and creative business skills. Artists need to get a better grip on the reality of the business. There are the big ‘stars’ – the huge income earners and then there are the ‘bottom feeders’. It is very hard to be one of the ‘big stars’.


CB: What legacy would you like to leave behind at FACTOR?
DUNCAN MCKIE:  I would like to be remembered as a brilliant facilitator to the industry and that my focus was to be customer client driven to get the job done.


*FACTOR provided funding to 69 nominees over 40 categories in the 2011 JUNO AWARDS.