Friday, November 16, 2007

In this issue:
* Broadcasters' Knickers in a Knot--Again
* BDS and the Beaver Chart
* Sedun Says "Adios" to EMI Publishing Canada
++ Staff at Sony BMG Canada have been notified that the company is moving its headquarters in Toronto back to the Don Mills area. No timeline was announced.
++ Songs by Paul Anka and legendary Quebec singer/songwriter Claude Dubois are among 23 selections being inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on March 1, 2008, in Toronto. Jazz pianist Oscar Peterson will receive the founder's award and his compositions, "Canadiana Suite" and "Hymn to Freedom", will also be inducted.
Anka's "Diana", "Put Your Head on My Shoulder", "She's a Lady", and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore" will be inducted along with the venerable "My Way", which he co-penned. Notably missing is the feminist teeth-gnasher "(You're) Having My Baby", which, 33 years after topping the charts, is still considered too lame for the room. And its Anka's big-selling single too!
Dubois will be represented by such memorable self-penned songs as "Femme de Reve", "Comme Un million de Gens", "Le Labrador", and "L'Infidele."
++ The greatest double-act in Canadian publishing splits Dec. 17, as Barbara Sedun starts her new job as Manager, Sound Recording Programs, at Manitoba Film & Sound in Winnipeg. EMI President Michael McCarty is currently combing through resumes at a furious clip to replace Sedun as VP, Creative. Meanwhile, Kevin Walters, whom Sedun replaces, has been named Executive Director of Homecoming 2010 and will still be involved in music, but as a buyer and promoter.
++ Larry LeBlanc has been named Canadian Talent Consultant for Canada Day in London in 2008. Held in Trafalgar Square, Canada Day will move from being a one-day event to a "two-day spectacular." Interested parties can send promo paks to: 15 Independence Drive, Scarborough, ON M1K 3R7.
++ The 2008 East Coast Music Awards will not be broadcast live this year. Instead, CBC Television will televise a one-hour production nationally, focusing on performances of artists during East Coast Music weekend in Fredericton, New Brunswick, from February 7-10. The broadcast date for the new show hasn't been set.
++ Garth Brooks debuted at no. 1 on the SoundScan Canada album chart this week, with The Ultimate Hits scanning 20,598 units. It is only his second SoundScan no. 1 in Canada and his first since 1998's Double Live. In the U.S., the new album debuted at no. 3 after selling 352,000 units.
++ Toronto rapper Kardinal Offishall has signed a worldwide deal with Akon's Konvict Music & Interscope Records. His album, Not for Sale, will be released in Spring 2008.
++ Torque Recording Company has made an exclusive distribution deal with Victory Records for the U.S, U.K. and Australia. The deal will include Canada in 2009. The company consists of Torque Records, With A Bullet Records, and Throttle Records. The first albums issued under this agreement will be released Jan. 22, 2008, by The Emerson Letters and Blind Witness. As well, A Long Way Home and Open Eyes Elysia will release albums on Feb. 19.
++ On Nov. 27, Billy Talent will release two new live DVD/CD collections from its recent world tour. Billy Talent 666 - A Deluxe Edition shows the band playing at the Brixton Academy in London, Philipshalle in Dusseldorf, Germany, and the Rock Am Ring Festival in Nurburgring, Germany. The shows were filmed by Montreal brothers Pierre and Francois Lamoureux of FogoLabs.
++ The Blues Foundation in Memphis will honour Canada with three "Keeping the Blues Alive" Awards in February 2, 2008. Those being honoured are: Stony Plain founder Holger Petersen, who has hosted "Saturday Night Blues" on the CBC Radio network for 21 years; Fred Litwin's Toronto-based label, NorthernBlues; and Edmonton's Labatt Blues Festival.
++ The International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) will meet in Toronto for its 35th Annual Conference from Jan. 9-12, 2008. Over 7,000 educators, musicians, record executives, exhibitors, media, students and enthusiasts are expected to attend. National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), in partnership with the Canadian Council for the Arts, will also give an award to Oscar Peterson for his role as a Canadian Jazz Master.
++ Scott Campbell has become Manager of Communications at Family Channel. He was formerly a publicist at MuchMusic.
++ Michael Moskowitz has been tapped as CEO/President for XM Canada effective January 1, 2008. He is former President, Americas International of Palm, Inc. John Bitove's new title is Executive Chairman of Canadian Satellite Radio Holdings Inc.
++ Chart Communications, Toronto-based publisher of music website and music magazine Chart, is seeking an advertising sales executive to oversee advertising and sponsorship. Only high-energy, self-starting movers and shakers with a university degree and advertising sales experience should apply.
John Arpin, one of Canada's most prominent pianists and one of the world's leading ragtime players, died Nov. 8 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 70. During his five-decade career, Arpin released 67 albums. He was familiar to Canadians, playing the theme of the long-running TV Ontario series "Polka Dot Door", as well as the "Jogging Along" theme of Don Harron's "Morningside", on CBC-Radio in the mid-1970s.
The sky opened up in Ottawa Nov. 4, as members of the Canadian Association of Broadcasters (CAB) adopted a resolution opposing the music labels' demand for copyright payment at their annual general meeting.
What has broadcasters in a lather is a recently proposed reproduction right tariff by the Audio-Video Licensing Agency (AVLA) and the Societe de gestion collective des droits des producteurs de phonogrammes et de videogrammes du Quebec (SOPROQ).
They are demanding annual payment for the right to make reproductions of recordings over the air. The resolution states that, "the CAB will take all measures to publicly oppose this egregious and abusive demand by the record labels, including taking action before Parliament, the Copyright Board and the courts."
"Private radio broadcasters are deeply concerned about the attempt by the recording industry to recoup its losses by claiming additional payments for music played on the air", said CAB President/CEO Glenn O'Farrell. "Our industry believes that this tariff proposal is a blatant abuse of the principles of the Copyright Act."
The CAB points out that private radio broadcasters already pay a reproduction right. Well, yes, they pay publishers through the Canadian Musical Reproduction Rights Agency (CMRRA). However, they don't pay the rights holders of recordings. While Canadian broadcasters recently posted annual profits of $1.4 billion with a profit of 20%, and 76% of what is heard on Canadian radio is, er, well, music, broadcasters' fury at the proposal is understandable. Labels have long waived reproduction rights "'though not in Europe” with the understanding that radio airplay promotes and sells their products.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., singer/songwriters Lyle Lovett and Alice Peacock testified on Nov. 13 before the Senate Judiciary Committee on behalf of the musicFIRST (Fairness in Radio Starting Today) Coalition about the importance of royalties for recording artists on radio. They are asking the U.S. Congress to grant recording artists performance rights that would require radio stations to pay royalties to recording artists when their music is played on the radio.
In Dec. 2006, as a result of its commercial radio policy review, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that radio licensees would now be asked to make specific commitments to provide airplay for, and to promote, emerging Canadian artists. However, the Commission declined to define "an emerging Canadian artist".
With the Commission holding a public hearing commencing Dec. 3, 2007, in Gatineau, Quebec, to consider applications for a local FM station, the Commission, individual private radio broadcasters, and industry associations have been scrambling since summer to come up with a definition that satisfies all parties. No clear winner has yet emerged. At the same time, as a result of the CRTC decision, as well as urging from Canada's private radio broadcasters, two initiatives have been launched to try to boost the emerging artist sector. While criteria has been established to determine eligibility in both cases, neither is intended to be used for regulatory purposes by the CRTC.
On Nov. 6, the Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records (FACTOR) launched its Emerging Artist Program. As well, Billboard magazine is slated to debut an "Emerging Canadian Artist" chart as part of its Canada Update electronic newsletter, along with its recently-launched "Canadian Hot 100 chart".
FACTOR's Emerging Artist Program is intended to support grassroots artists whose careers have started to emerge at both the national and/or international level. The program is funded through Canadian Content Development (CCD) dollars paid to FACTOR from Canada's private radio broadcasters. Funds will be provided through the production component, where FACTOR will provide up to 50% of the eligible budget to a maximum of $35,000, and the marketing and promotion component will provide up to $50,000 in funding to support the sound recording.
FACTOR's "emerging artist" requirements are:
1. The applicant(s) must be a Canadian citizen(s), landed immigrant(s) or a Canadian-owned/controlled company.
2. The artist(s) must be a Canadian citizen(s) or landed immigrant(s).
3. The applicant must own or control the copyright in the master recording for which funding is being requested.
4. The artist must have previously sold, on its most recent release, a minimum of:
3,500 units for Pop/Rock/AC;
2,000 units for Urban/Country/Folk/Electronica;
1,500 units for World/ Classical/Blues/Aboriginal/Jazz
and/or had a song on the Top 40 BDS National Chart.
5. Once an artist has sold in excess of 150,000 copies of a sound recording, they are no longer eligible to apply to the program.
6. A maximum of two sound recording loans are available per artist in the lifetime of the program.
For more than a decade, Nielsen BDS/BDS Radio Canada have been producing meaningful charts and research. It is the sole provider of airplay tracking for Billboard. Its "Emerging Canadian Artist" definition and qualification system is based on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart. Its criteria is:
1. Artist must be Canadian.
2. Selection must qualify as Canadian Content.
3a. Artist is considered emerging up until 12 months after the date the artist's first selection reaches the Top 40 on the Billboard Canadian Hot 100.
3b. For Country titles, the full 100-position Billboard Canadian Hot 100 chart is employed.
4. Prior to the debut of the Canadian Hot 100 on June 7, 2007, the designation for "Emerging Artist" will follow the historic CRTC regulations for "Hit" and "Non-hit".
Therefore, the artist is disqualified if they had a title on the following charts: Billboard Country chart; Billboard Hot 100 Singles; Canadian Music Network National Airplay; and Canadian Music Network Country Top 50 Audience. Prior to 2001, The Record Retail Singles and RPM 100 Country Tracks.
5. Once an artist has a title that is disqualified under point 3 or 4, their entire catalogue is disqualified.
There are considerable flaws in the FACTOR "emerging artist" definition and in what BDS proposes, affecting both the recording industry and the private broadcaster community. For broadcasters, it is problematical that outside sources, and not the CRTC, will be essentially setting the terms of what is or not an emerging artist. Once codified with use over time, the Commission may look to the chart positions as a condition of license for stations. Also, today's chart-ranking scenario is not comparable to two decades ago, when the Commission had multiple charts to determine hit-to-non-hit status. Chart numbers today do not reflect true emerging artist status anymore, considering the importance of touring and varied non-traditional platforms available for sales.
As well, an act might have a really good week at radio and retail--resulting in posting a high chart number. But how consistent is that? They might even have a good radio/retail run on a single track. But if sales of an album aren't sustained or if follow-up tracks do not register as well, an album might still tank. However, the artist would no longer be listed as an emerging artist after 12 months because of the one-week posting. These artists may then be caught in a netherland of "not hit makers nor emerging artists" and radio will ignore them.
Stephanie Friedman, GM of Nielsen BDS, says the Emerging Artist chart was developed after consultation with "all of the stakeholders." She adds, "This is a definition from BDS and not the industry. But I consulted with a variety of people in the industry." "There was energy moving this forward", she continues. "It is not intended to polarize the industry. There were requests for assistance concerning the fact that the Commission obligated broadcasters to produce research on this. Billboard stepped up with the new chart after a lot of input."
Despite Friedman's firm assertion, many key players in the industry felt they weren't fully consulted before the announcement of the new BDS-based chart. They are scornful of the criteria being used. Any separate chart for emerging Canadian acts ghettoizes and stigmatizes Canadians. It's a throwback to yesterday's "Beaver Hour" at radio and "Beaver Bins" at music retail in Canada.
Journalist/broadcaster/researcher Larry LeBlanc has been a leading figure in Canadian music for four decades. He has been a regular music commentator on CTV's "Canada A.M." for 35 years and has been featured on numerous CBC-TV, CTV, YTV, Bravo!, MuchMusic, MusiMax, and Newsworld programs in Canada; VH-1 and EEntertainment in the U.S.; and BBC in the U.K.
Larry was the co-founder of the late Canadian music trade, The Record; and, most recently, the Canadian bureau chief of Billboard for 16 years.
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