604 Records take on last week in Canadian comedy

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

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.”

Read full press release on the Canadian Association of Stand-up Comedians website.

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