East Coast Music Association

The East Coast Music Association is a non-profit association that hosts an annual awards ceremony based in Atlantic Canada for music appreciation on the East Coast of Canada. Since its beginning in 1989 when it was launched as the Maritime Music Awards by Halifax music industry promoter Rob Cohn, it has grown from the original five categories (Album of the Year, Female Artist of the Year, Male Artist of the Year, Song of the Year, and Video of the Year) to over 40 categories for artist, industry and honorary awards.


From 1989 in a Halifax bar, the East Coast Music Awards and Conference has grown to become the premier music event in Atlantic Canada, and one of the top events of its kind on the continent.

In 1991, Founder of the Maritime Music Awards, Rob Cohn, joined forces with Sheri Jones, Karen Byers, Lee Stanley, Mike Barkhouse, Peter Hendrickson, Bruce Morel and Tony Kelly to form the East Coast Music Association. The event became known as the East Coast Music Awards and now combined the Atlantic provinces. It moved from a Halifax bar to the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium and new awards were added. A showcase by The Rankins helped the band get a manager and, later, an EMI record deal.

With the formation of provincial music industry associations it was decided that the event would move from year to year from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I and Nfld and Labrador.

In recent years, the East Coast Music Awards and Conference has showcased the music of Atlantic Canada, bringing it to millions of record buyers in a two-hour national broadcast on CBC Television. The first televised broadcast of the event took place in St. John's NFLD, due to efforts by the Association and Glen Tilley, A producer at CBC St. John's and head of the nomination committee for NFLD & Labrador during the critical first years transition of the association to a non-profit status. And the ECMA's have marketed Atlantic Canadian music to the world, by inviting members of the international music industry to the annual conference.

2000 Gala

Sydney, Nova Scotia, hosted a grassroots event that pushed its organizational and infrastructure capacities to the limit. An economically successful event paved the way for the ECMA to regain a sound financial footing, and it commemorates the influence of Cape Breton's Celtic Music family, including the late John Morris Rankin. Showcases abound, and events like Radio FreECMA and the Continuous Jam ignite industry attention. The awards show receives a Gemini Award for Best Music, Variety Program or Series.

2001 Gala

Charlottetown attracted more than 1,700 delegates and highlighted the diversity of the East Coast Canadian music scene. Emerging and established artists came together in a barrage of new showcases, including the debut of the Jazz/Classical Concert Series. The event fostered renewed interest in the formation of the P.E.I. Music Awards and creates Soundwaves, a program that sees musicians visiting schools throughout the province, and hospitals, businesses and churches in Charlottetown. The Ennis Sisters sign with Warner Music and the ECMA Award Show receives another Gemini Award for Best Music, Variety Program or Series.

2002 Gala

Saint John, New Brunswick, hosted ECMA 2002. The competitive bid process in New Brunswick sparked community involvement and led to over 2200 delegates to attend. Saint John brings new initiatives: the wildly popular Roots Room for acoustic performances, the UniSon bilingual concert, and the bluegrass stage that attracts an estimated 5,000 fans. In addition to the national CBC Television broadcast of the awards show, the MuchMusic ECMA Rock stage got a prime-time special on Much, and CBC Radio's Definitely Not the Opera broadcast live from the main showcase stage.

2003 Gala

ECMA 2003 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, brought the conference back to where it all began 15 years before, and to celebrate this anniversary, the entire city came alive with music and was transformed into a City of Stages, celebrating all genres of music. It was a resounding success, having played host to over 2000 delegates. The Soundwaves Program brought music to over 30,000 young school students throughout the region, and corporate sponsorship and support for ECMA reached new heights. Halifax celebrated Urban Music with an Urban Music Series featuring hip-hop, R&B and the Black Vibes concert. ECMA 2003 brought international bookings to several East Coast artists as European music industry professionals were in attendance.

2004 Gala

ECMA 2004 in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador saw international delegates. A strategic partnership was developed with the Atlantic Film Festival, and film and TV elements were introduced to the conference. A number of East Coast recording artists negotiated contracts for national licensing and distribution deals. The ECMA Songwriter's Circle was broadcast live across the country on CBC Radio and across Atlantic Canada on CBC Television.

2005 Gala

ECMA 2005 in Sydney, Nova Scotia, was a great success and helped to kick off the opening of two new, multimillion-dollar facilities in Sydney. For both the Membertou Trade and Convention Centre and the Sydney Marine Terminal, ECMA was the first major event to use their facilities, and offered a great opportunity to introduce them to the community and the international industry delegates attending the conference. The conference was taken to a new level with very popular sessions, a vibrant international program (50+ delegates) and successful partnering with Cape Breton University. Overall, ECMA is moving towards a master class format, presenting classes this year in songwriting, export readiness and musical scoring for gaming and television. The success of the Soundwaves was built upon with the creation of a brand new program, Sound-off, which involved schools across Cape Breton to select the best band in their school and advance them to regionals and a final competition.

2006 Gala

ECMA returned to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 2006. Charlottetown has been a laboratory from which such experiments as RadioECMA, Soundwaves and the 72 Hour Jam have sprung. For the first time ever, 2006 organizers decided to have a gala dinner industry awards ceremony on Saturday night. The controversial Trailer Park Boys hosted a great award show at the Civic Centre, proving many skeptics wrong and the organization right on the mark. A major highlight of 2006 was that a festival was created within the Delta Prince Edward host hotel. The music, business and networking went virtually around the clock.

2007 Gala

Halifax, Nova Scotia, once again hosted ECMA, a year early, as a result of a request to flip from the Fredericton, New Brunswick, location. The Halifax event, introduced as the East Coast Music Awards, Festival and Conference, measures as a major industry and financial success. An amazing and insightful four-day conference, with record attendance, wonderful venues and things on the technical end (sound and lights), and an ever-growing international program with over 50 international music industry delegates. With 500 hotel rooms in two adjoining Delta hotels, there was a festival atmosphere in the hotels and adjoining malls. The 2007 award show was regarded by many as one of the best ever. The show marks the recent passing of East Coast legends John Allan Cameron, Dutch Mason and Denny Doherty. ECMAfest brought the downtown Halifax to life with many official and partnered stages.

2008 Gala

ECMA 2008 was held in Fredericton, New Brunswick from February 7 through 10. Throughout the event, various venues played host to the East Coast's finest artists. The music awards gala was held at the Aitken Centre, and Steven Page from the Barenaked Ladies hosted the entire event (coining the term "Barenaked East Coast Music"). Unlike previous years the event was not televised, and instead, a TV special was broadcast with scenes (venues, award show, various hotel antics). The year's big winner was Joel Plaskett Emergency who walked away with seven awards, most centering on the acclaimed concept release Ashtray Rock.

2009 Gala

The 2009 ECMA Awards Conference and Awards Gala took place in the city of Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador. The hosts for the event were Damhnait Doyle and Jian Ghomeshi of CBC Radio One's Q.

The line-up of artists included Hey Rosetta!, Jill Barber, Tara Oram, Christina Martin, MIR, and David Myles. The ECMA Awards Show also featured the reunion of Rawlins Cross.

2010 Gala

The 2010 event took place in Sydney, Nova Scotia, on Cape Breton. Joel Plaskett was the night's big winner with six awards, including Sennheiser Entertainer of the Year.

2011 Gala

ECMA returned to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, in 2011 and was hosted within the Delta Prince Edward host hotel. The music, business and networking went virtually around the clock.

2012 Gala

East Coast Music Week 2012 was staged in Moncton, NB. Jimmy Rankin led with eight nominations. Presented for the second year, A Sound Celebration brought together musicians from three of NB’s premier orchestras including Atlantic Simphonia, Symphony New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra along with four pop stars – Chris Colepaugh, David Myles, Samantha Robichaud and Matt Andersen. ECMA partnered with the Province of New Brunswick and the local Capitol Theatre to host a First Nation’s showcase, the first of its kind. The ECMA Breakout Stage was launched, a new program for emerging artists. The program uses both workshops and performances to foster artists and groups newer to the music industry. The ECMA also developed its first web-based app

It was the second time the city hosted the gala. In 1997, an unprecedented 7,000 awards show guests attend the televised broadcast in Moncton, NB, (with special guest Edith Butler and broadcaster Peter Gzowski) delegates clamor to the 76-hour jam session and a concert series featuring headliners Bruce Guthro, Great Big Sea, Four the Moment and Barachois. Moncton brings an Acadian flavor to a gathering that attracts more than 1,500 delegates, including 200 media from around the world. The event injects $3-million into the local economy. The association’s board of directors continues to develop its mandate as provincial music industry associations take hold throughout Atlantic Canada. Bruce Guthro signs with EMI Music Canada.

2013 Gala

The 2013 East Coast Music Awards were held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on March 10.

2014 East Coast Music Awards

East Coast Music Week 2014 was held in Charlottetown, PEI from April 2–6, 2014. The Awards Gala took place on April 6, 2014 and was hosted by Seamus O'Regan. Old Man Luedecke, Jenn Grant and Dave Gunning were among the winners at the Awards Gala.

2015 East Coast Music Awards

East Coast Music Week 2015 was held in St. John's, Newfoundland from April 8–12, 2015. The Awards Gala took place on April 9, 2015 and was hosted by comedian and actor Jonny Harris. The Town Heroes, In-Flight Safety and Kim Harris were among the winners at the Awards Gala.

2016 East Coast Music Awards

East Coast Music Week 2016 was held in Sydney, Nova Scotia from April 13–17, 2016. The Awards Gala took place on April 14 and was hosted by Ashley MacIsaac and Heather Rankin. Hey Rosetta!, Amelia Curran, City Natives, Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy, Jenn Grant, Coyote, Christina Martin, and Fortunate Ones were among the winners at the Awards Gala.

2017 East Coast Music Awards

The 2017 East Coast Music Awards were held in Saint John, New Brunswick from April 26–30, 2017.

2018 East Coast Music Awards

The 2018 East Coast Music Awards were held in Halifax, Nova Scotia from May 2–8, 2018. This event marks the 30th Anniversary of the ECMAs.

2019 East Coast Music Awards

The 2019 East Coast Music Awards were held in Charlottetown, PEI from May 1–5, 2019.

See also

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