Formed nearly 30 years ago, the Scottish Cultural Centre, in Vancouver, is home to the United Scottish Cultural Society and convention centre. With dozens of events held annually, it’s no wonder they attribute their success mostly to word-of-mouth referrals.

Their success can also be credited to the medley of music that’s performed and heard at the many, varied events held in the Centre; from weddings and family gatherings to concerts and other special affairs. The Caledonian Room, the largest at the Centre, houses a full stage with an unhampered surround-sound system, where background music has put an extra step in the Gaelic and Highland dance performances. The Centre also strongly recognizes Vancouver’s music community by hiring local talent for their many live performances. “By drawing on local talent, we’re fostering the development of further talent,” says General Manager Darryl Carracher.

The Centre is one of 30,000 brick-and-mortar licensees to proudly display SOCAN’s badge of honour. “The Licensed to Play sticker states loud and clear that the Scottish Cultural Centre is in full compliance with the mandate to support Canadian musicians and music creators, and does what everyone knows is right,” says Carracher.

“We encourage our partners in business, SOCAN’s music licensees, to proudly display the Licensed to Play sticker; to tell the rest of Canada that music is making a difference in your business,” says Jennifer Brown, Vice President of Licensing at SOCAN.

SOCAN licenses more than 125,000 businesses in Canada – businesses that recognize the contribution music is making to their overall success.

“Music is essential,” says Carracher. “Whether it’s played in the background during a relaxing fundraising dinner or a wedding reception, or it’s the main attraction of an exhilarating, high-energy rock concert, music contributes in a substantive and undeniably meaningful way – even on a subconscious level – to the tone of nearly every event at the Scottish Cultural Centre.”

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.

Carleton Stone is a young singer-songwriter from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. After releasing a Nova Scotia Music Award-nominated debut in 2009, Stone met fellow Canadian songwriter Hawksley Workman, with whom he soon founded a new creative partnership. With Workman in the role of producer, his self-titled, second album was released to critical acclaim in 2011, and since then has taken home the Best Rock Recording award at the Nova Scotia Music Awards.

His third album, Draws Blood was released in March 2014, and was co-produced by Jason Collett and Howie Beck (producer for fellow Canadian artists Feist, Hayden and Sarah Harmer).

“So far I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of my heroes,” says Stone. “I can’t wait to start playing shows again and introducing these new songs to audiences.” His songs have appeared in television shows like NBC’s Saving Hope and CBC’s Being Erica, and he’ll be touring throughout 2014.

It may take different strokes to move the world, but it took one Canadian entertainer to turn the theme for an ‘80s sitcom into a song that sticks with us. Alan Thicke, the actor, comedian, talk show host, author and Canadian Walk of Famer, is also a successful songwriter for television, and a SOCAN member. The Diff’rent Strokes theme is one of his most enduring compositions.

How did you start in the world of composing for TV?  That’s not what you went to L.A. to do, right?
No, I was a lousy bar band guitar player and singer in Toronto, and was always interested in music. When I got my first producing assignment in the U.S., after a couple of years of writing variety shows down there, it was for a game show. They knew a little bit about my musical background and they assigned me to come up with a theme song. They wanted something different so I suggested maybe rock ‘n’ roll, something contemporary. And to take it beyond that, we said why not write a lyric for it? So I did. I wrote and recorded and sang the theme song to The Wizard of Odds. By today’s standards it would be pretty lame, but back then it was progressive for a daytime game show.

“The fact that every quarter for 35 years I get SOCAN statements outlining where this has been used and played is very flattering.”

The theme for Diff’rent Strokes is credited to yourself, your then-wife Gloria Loring and executive Al Burton. How did you work together?
Al would quite frankly admit that his role in the creation of the song was to assign it to me. [laughs] Gloria was very busy as a performer and touring a lot. When I told her I had this assignment she and her guitar player pitched a few ideas, and I think there was a line we used. I don’t want to discredit her in any way, we shared a lot of things. But I think she would agree that I wrote the song. All the lyrics are mine and most of the music. Then I went into the studio with David Foster – who played keyboards on a lot of my sessions back then – and produced it, with David and the boys. Brenda Russell is also on there singing backing vocals. It was a fine beginning to a relationship with Norman Lear Productions that lead to Facts of Life and about 45 themes over the years.

This was a golden age for writing theme songs with lyrics. Why do you think that’s fallen out of fashion?
Networks don’t want to wait 30 seconds to start the next show to hook you. It’s a practical matter.

What kind of stories have you heard over the years about this song, about what it meant to the viewers?
As I understand it, college kids get together to play beer pong and bet each other who can remember the most of their parents’ [era] show lyrics. [laughs] The fact that every quarter for 35 years I get SOCAN statements outlining where this has been used and played is very flattering. Between Diff’rent Strokes and Facts of Life, the lyrics have popped up in shows from Dave Chapelle to SNL to Two Broke Girls. When I hear the lines used in a sketch, I turn to my 16-year-old, elbow him, “Hey, that’s my song!”

You’ve talked about the scene in L.A. in the ‘70s of Canadians helping each other, and about how you later helped the next generation of Canadians there. What’s your advice for young film and TV composers?
Well, I would say don’t aim to make music for television, just make music. Television will find you.