When Mark Jowett, Terry McBride and their original partners formed Nettwerk Productions in the mid-‘80s, they had no real plan, no long-term aspirations.

“We just got together to release a few bands,” says Jowett. “We loved Skinny Puppy and Grapes of Wrath. We were really inspired by the cool music that was being released in the 1980s, like The Cure and Joy Division, so we were just happy to be involved in the scene. And then it just kind of exploded and it’s been exploding in one sense or another ever since.”

The company pioneered “collapsed copyright,” which allows artists to release music under their own labels, retaining their own copyright.

What started as a small, Vancouver-based indie label has since grown into a respected international music publisher, label and management company with offices in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and Germany.

It’s been a long, wild ride, with many highlights along the way. From 1997 to 1999, Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair tours, staged under Nettwerk’s auspices, grossed $16 million – a large portion of which was donated women’s charities. Nettwerk were crucial in establishing Barenaked Ladies in the U.S., and the band has now sold more than 10 million albums. They also established Avirl Lavigne worldwide. Nettwerk released Coldplay’s first album Parachutes – after EMI rejected it – throughout North America. The company pioneered “collapsed copyright,” which allows artists to release music under their own labels, retaining their own copyright, while still be marketed and promoted through Nettwerk.

To celebrate its 30-year milestone, Nettwerk invited its current roster to plunder its catalogue: the result is an inventive marriage of past and present called From Cover To Cover: 30 Years At Nettwerk. The label is also re-releasing several of its classic albums on vinyl for a new generation of music aficionados.

In 2014, Nettwerk raised more than $10 million in equity growth financing to boost artist development and catalogue acquisition. The company has since acquired the rights to Robot of the Century Music (Roadrunner’s rock catalogue), and to Maxi Records, a U.S. disco label; Nettwerk One Music has also entered a partnership with Nashville-based Ten Ten Music Group, which gives the Vancouver company a solid foothold in Music City.

“Our goal now,” says Jowett, “is to maximize those partnerships, to breathe new life into those catalogues, find new uses for those songs. And of course, we’re interested in finding great new writers. We want to focus on quality, and if we get that right, then we have a strong infrastructure that can really maximize the potential of those songs.”

The music business, of course, has undergone a few sea changes since the 1980s, and Nettwerk continues to adapt.

“Download sales are down and album sales are down,” acknowledges Jowett, “but streaming income is rising, quite phenomenally. The difference is that it’s much more of a singles market now. Most people, when they’re streaming music, are listening to it in the context of playlists rather than albums. So we’ve had to make a paradigm shift to really focus on playlists and how to get our artists included on those lists. That’s very different from trying to sell albums at physical retail.

“We’re optimistic that in the next two or three years we’ll all have a different perspective on revenue streams. And I say that mostly with my label hat on. The master side is looking more rewarding, whereas on the publishing side we have to really fight to increase the writers’ and publishers’ shares of streaming royalties. It’s a crucial battle that’s going on right now.”

There’s only a few weeks until the premiere of the 27th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival  (July 10-26) – as verified by the clock counting down the days on the festival’s website. Torontonians would be hard-pressed to not have heard of the popular music festival, especially East-end residents or businesses.

For founder Lido Chilelli and his three-person team, it’s no small feat to plan and produce the internationally-renowned fete. Chilelli recognizes the positive impact that music has on the community, its people and businesses. As a small business owner in the early ‘70s, he operated a popular bar on Queen Street East called Lido’s on the Beach, located directly across from Kew Gardens, now home to the festival’s World Beat Stage.

“Music was a natural fit for the setting on Queen Street East” – Lido Chilelli, founder of the Beaches International Jazz Festival

On slower nights, Lido’s drew customers and music fans by offering live music. Notable acts like bluesman Paul James, Barenaked Ladies, Sam Roberts, and the late jazz and blues-rock vocalist Jeff Healey, just to name a few, all performed at Lido’s early in their careers.

Building on a sense of community, Lido founded the Toronto Beaches International Jazz Festival in the late ‘80s, when music fests in Canada only numbered a handful. “I spoke with different business people about implementing a new jazz festival, and I received full support. Music was a natural fit for the setting on Queen Street East,” says Chilelli. “The Beaches International Jazz Festival grew to have that same ‘community’ feel but with national scope, and that’s what people find so unique about the event.”

Since its inception, the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, uniting millions of music lovers from around the world. Although admission to the festival is free, it manages to produce millions of dollars for the city and the East-end community. Beaches-East York MPP Michael Prue told local Toronto newscast CityNews the festival generates about $65 million for Toronto’s overall economy – more than $30 million of that right in the Beaches area.

The Beaches International Jazz Festival drew more than 900,000 music fans in 2014, and it takes more than 150 volunteer staff to keep its wheels spinning before, after and throughout the 14-day series of outdoor concerts.

And Canadian talent, rather than going abroad, can take advantage of the opportunity that the festival provides here in Canada. The Beaches festival often establishes Canadian musicians locally, and brings the international jazz community to Toronto. “We always want to showcase our own, and we’re always looking to work with emerging and new artists,” says Chilelli. “We’re usually one of the first festivals to allow a musician to have platform to play in front of a large crowd.”

Rap-rock band Down with Webster, nuevo flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook, and jazz singer Matt Dusk have all seen their commercial success increase after their performances at the festival.

Proud to be Licensed to Play with SOCAN, the Beaches festival attributes much of its success to the countless performers – many of them SOCAN members – who relentlessly hit the various stages every night during the festival. “I think being licensed to play music helps preserve and enrich our community of music. You’re supporting and buying everything made in your own community,” says Chilelli. “It’s almost like a musical ecosystem where everyone contributes a little piece and it keeps going around and gets better every time.”

One way the festival is expanding its audience, and championing local talent, is through a program called the Youth Initiatives, geared towards a younger demographic. Chilelli says the year-long program attracts indie and electronic music artists to the festival. “We started this program a few years back and we’ve been working with different high schools and colleges in Toronto to raise awareness for it,” he says.

The future looks promising for the popular and ever-growing event. “I think it’s going to be the face of Toronto,” says Chilelli. “It will soon be the music community within the music city.”

As one of the longest-standing events in Western Canada, the century-old Calgary Stampede continues to draw a global audience to its 10-day, city-wide, Western-style event, showcasing rodeo competitions and vaudeville entertainment, agriculture programming, and a memorable music concert series.

While the outdoor show celebrates Western heritage, culture, and community spirit, the diverse musical lineup is a key pillar to its success.

Roderick Tate

Programming Manager Roderick Tate accepts the Licensed to Play Award on behalf of the Calgary Stampede organization at the 2015 SOCAN Awards. (Photo: Grant Martin Photography)

“Music is one of those foundational pieces for the Calgary Stampede. It’s always been an important part of the Calgary Stampede,” says the organization’s Programming Manager, Roderick Tate.

On June 22, 2015, the Calgary Stampede was honoured at the 2015 SOCAN Awards, for its continued commitment to developing music through community and culture, all legally and ethically licensed in partnership with SOCAN.

“It’s vital for us to recognize businesses and organizations like the Calgary Stampede that are committed to being Licensed To Play with SOCAN,” says SOCAN’s Leslie Craig, Director of Licensing. “Organizations that use music to make their business better are doing the right and legal thing for Canada’s songwriters and music publishers by recognizing that they are an essential partner in the music ecosystem. The prestigious Licensed To Play Award celebrates the highest commitment to this partnership.”

There are more than 100 live musical performances in and around Stampede Park where the main events take place, with an estimated 400 other live musical performances throughout the city and surrounding area.

Carly Rae Jepsen

SOCAN member Carly Rae Jepsen performs at the 2014 Calgary Stampede. (Photo Credit: Tye Carson/Flickr)

Music has risen in importance since the Stampede’s early days. “Music is one of those traditional pieces that even settlers and pioneers would have celebrated as one of their forms of entertainment,” says Tate. “In different ways and forms, music has been around since the Stampede started.  Even the rich history of First Nations is shared through song.”
The outdoor show is expanding beyond rodeo and vaudeville enthusiasts and die-hard country music fans, by curating music programming that appeals to a broader demographic of stampeders. As a result, it’s successfully winning over a new generation of admirers. “We definitely have diverse music offerings,” says Tate. “We’ve got everything from orchestral music to rock, pop, hip-hop – you name it!”

In 2015, the festival welcomed country music stars Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, the legendary Stevie Wonder, and top-selling digital male country artist Jason Aldean. Previous chart-toppers who’ve graced the Stampede’s stages include KISS, Garth Brooks, Katy Perry, Carly Rae Jepsen, Dragonette, and Reba McEntire, among other internationally renowned acts.

“We want to showcase the best in musical talent,” says Tate. “It’s one part of what we do. But we also love to foster music education and provide the opportunity for up-and-comers to be a part of it through a number of annual competitions that we hold during the Calgary Stampede.”

The Stampede helps local and rising musicians gain exposure through the annual Nashville North Star and the Stampede Youth Talent Search competitions, which give aspiring artists a chance to showcase their talent.

The not-for-profit community organization also carries on business year-round, facilitating arts and music education programs geared to youth. The Stampede Show Band and the Young Canadian School of Performing Art provide young Calgarians with learning opportunities and training that they might not get elsewhere.

Although cowboy culture is widespread in Calgary, the Stampede is very involved in building Alberta’s overall arts culture. “Supporting artists is really important to us, and we love celebrating country musicians in that way, and Canadian music in general,” says Tate.

When asked what the future of music looks like for the Calgary Stampede, Tate says, “Music is going to continue to grow and become an even bigger part of who we are and in the makeup of our organization, for the duration of the festival and year-round.

“Whether it’s through the education, or showcasing great talent, music is not going anywhere, and we recognize it as a significant part of Canadian culture, and also in who we are.”