Marc Costanzo hasn’t been “frying on the bench slide in the park across the street” since selling 2 million copies of Len’s You Can’t Stop The Bum Rush in 1999, thanks to the ubiquitous summer hit “Steal My Sunshine.”

The Toronto songwriter and producer, who also discovered Sum 41, and has developed many other writers and artists, released subsequent Len albums in 2005 and 2012, and laughs when asked what he’s been up to in between.

“A lot,” he says, but doesn’t want to name names.  “It’s never served me well talking about all the things that I’ve done in the past with publishing. If you want to see what I’ve done, just come to the studio in Nashville and you can look at the gold records on the wall.”

“It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had.”

Costanzo’s interest and ownership of catalogue publishing rights totals more than 35 million albums sold, according to a press release about his new company, Inside Music Nashville. “We have about 10 songs that get placed a lot, but the most placements out of all our catalogue is ‘Steal My Sunshine,’” he says.

Most of his catalogue is with Universal, Sony, and Warner, he says.  He’s had music in Peter Rabbit The Movie; TV campaigns for Amazon (North America), Hampton Inn (worldwide), Hotpoint (U.K., Europe, Middle East, Japan), QVC (U.S., Canada), Tropicana (Canada), and Kinder Joy (N.A); plus South Park, Beat Shazam!, America’s Got Talent, Live with Kelly & Ryan, American Idol, Mr. Robot, American Dad, and Roswell: New Mexico.

Sunshine Don’t Stop

“Came here during coronavirus. Needed a smile on my face,” reads one comment under the video for Len’s “Steal My Sunshine” on YouTube, which has amassed 49 million plays since it was posted in late 2009, 10 years after its original release on the album You Can’t Stop The Bum Rush.

The song hasn’t “missed a million miles of fun” these two decades, getting syncs in everything from the movie Go in 1999 to more recent placements in South Park, American Dad, and a Tropicana commercial — “about 30 to 50 a year for the past five years,” says songwriter/producer Marc Costanzo, who shares vocals on the track with sister Sharon. “I haven’t had to say ‘No’ to anything. It’s generally just cool fun shit, all the summer commercials.”

While “Steal My Sunshine,” ranked No. 13 on the Top 50 One-hit Wonder List compiled in 2007 by Stylus magazine, and No. 13 on Rolling Stone’s 2013 Best Summer Songs of All Time, Costanzo himself is more a wonder of hits.

Note: the late Gregory Diamond, who died the year the song came out, received a posthumous credit on “Steal My Sunshine” for the use of its “More, More, More” sample.

Once signed by SOCAN’s current Chief Membership & Business Development Officer Michael McCarty, back when he helmed EMI Music Publishing Canada, Costanzo says, “Everything I do today is based on how Mike worked in 1995 to whenever he left EMI.

“He supported in ways that I, still, to this day, very rarely see. He would take chances, more than anybody I know. He was running a publishing company like a record company, like a management company, and there was a studio component that didn’t exist for anybody back then.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed the Canada-U.S. border, Costanzo is at home in Toronto, working out of his second-floor waterfront studio on songs for the newly-formed Inside Music Nashville.  His new partner Kory Caudill, a producer, keyboardist, and arranger, works out of the same studio as him in Berry Hill, Tennessee, where they met. Matt Williams has been appointed General Manager, and Costanzo has brought along his long-time hip-hop and R&B production collaborator, Martin “Bucky” Seja.

“It’d be nice for people to know that people from two different countries with two different backgrounds are coming together,” says Costanzo.  “Kory is a country / bluegrass / jazz guy that’s from East Kentucky, Floyd County; he’s Appalachian, he’s Southern; he plays in [the multi-No.1 charting] Justin Moore Band. He and his crew all come from the South.

“I come from a pop, hip-hop and R&B direction, a style of pop music which is a lot of gear, a lot of electronics. We’re completely the opposite – except we have something in common, which is we do things our own way, and we saw in each other things that each of us don’t have.  We realized that,  together, we complete the picture of what we love to produce, which is country-pop, pop-country. Let’s bring all our experience in publishing, and in writing, and production, and join up with those guys, a lot of incredible musicians and producers on his side.

“The real conversation that I had with Kory is, I can be myself. I can be pop, hip-hop. We can all represent that kind of music, with Bucky and all my writers and my producers, and we don’t have to try to be country. I don’t write verse-lyrics. I’m not going to pretend I’m from Floyd County. I’m not going to pretend I’m from the South. And then he doesn’t have to pretend that he’s a pop guy or carries all the experience that I have. But together we can be ourselves.”

Just that day, Bucky wrote an instrumental and Costanzo the chorus, “a full-on R&B song,” says Costanzo. He played it to Caudill, who said it could be a country song.  Costanzo brings up “I Swear” as an example – a country hit for John Michael Montgomery and an R&B hit for All-4-One in the early ‘90s. “We’re going after his people and my people,” he says. “It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had.”