After careful and systematic planning with our global partners, Fair Trade Music International (FTMI) has at last become a reality.  In 2015, the S.A.C. took the lead and incorporated a separate company called FT Music International.  In 2016 this new company certified its first fair trade music release: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ PersonA. The program’s success still, however, relies largely upon the S.A.C. and volunteer efforts, including an international Board of Directors, International Advisory Council of music creators from five continents, and certification auditors based in Nashville. (Do Write Music LLC). The S.A.C. will continue to support this initiative while FTMI expands the certification types.

The S.A.C. also works with music creator organizations globally, including CIAM (International Council of Music Creators) and ECSA (European Composer and Songwriter Alliance); the SGA (Songwriters Guild of America), SCL (Society of Composers and Lyricists), the Council of Music Creators, and SONA in the U.S.  The umbrella group, called Music Creators North America, encompasses almost all major North American music creator organizations.  Eddie Schwartz, President Emeritus of the S.A.C., continues to represent Canada as Music Creators North America Co-Chair. Joint ventures have resulted in lobbying efforts regarding U.S. Copyright and the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI.

Music Creators North America also has one of the three creator seats at the table helping to make decisions on distribution policies and programming among all CISAC societies, the international umbrella group of creators’ rights organizations.


Jasime Denham, Vince Degiorgio, Murray Daigle

Two of the writers and the publisher of the official 2015 Pan Am games song “Together We Are One,” written at a S.A.C. Song Camp, receive a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award for topping the CBC Radio 2 Top 20. Left to right: co-writer Jasmine Denham; publisher and Song Camp producer Vince Degiorgio of Cymba Music; co writer Murray Daigle. Co-writer Bobby John received his award at the Montréal office. (Photo: Tiana Feng)

On a national level, the S.A.C. provides leadership and education to songwriters throughout Canada. The S.A.C. Songworks Camps provide a unique collaborative experience for our members. Working with local music associations and publishers, the S.A.C. Songworks producers bring together a wide range of songwriters, diverse in collaborative experience, age, genre and language. Here are some of the camps’ successes:

SAC Success Table


Murray Daigle says of co-writing the official 2015 Pan Am games theme song: “The value of the experience, making new top-level industry contacts, and earning a second SOCAN No. 1 Song Award is less tangible, but very significant as a career milestone, and will definitely contribute to future opportunities and successes.”


The S.A.C. also continues to work hard to develop cost-effective educational programming.  One of the most successful programs is our One on One Mentoring sessions.  Members have the opportunity to connect, via Skype, with top music industry representatives in Canada and the U.S. For 20 minutes, a songwriter has the chance to ask their mentor for help with any aspect of the songwriting business.

For an annual fee of $60* you can join the Songwriters Association of Canada to make the world a better place for songwriters, and support those who support you. For more information, call Isabel Crack, S.A.C. Managing Director, at (416) 961-1588, or e-mail

* Professionals can expense against songwriting income

When Words & Music asked me to contribute a few tips on how a screen composer could best navigate the Toronto International Film Festival, I don’t think they realized how much I’d have to say on the topic. The 2016 festivities marked my 10th time around and as a composer agent and former film composer, so I have a lot to talk about. Also, I love the sound of my own voice.

Prepping for TIFF is crucial. As soon as the calendar ticks “August,” start putting in the extra effort into getting yourself onto party lists. First, focus on who you want to meet by researching the films and directors in the Festival. That’s what you’re going to be talking about at all of your meetings and parties, so you better know who the directors are and what they’ve done. Despite my decade of experience, I only started pre-booking my meetings, parties and film screenings a few years ago. That’s like your dentist telling you that she only started flossing last week. But it’s never too late to start!

Naturally, you can’t see everything or meet everyone, so pick a target and go for it. My focus is the Canadian independent feature film scene. I start by booking tickets (either comps or purchases) for films scored by our own Core Music Agency composers. Then I turn my attention to the films we pitched for but didn’t get – I want to know who they hired and why. Finally, I see the Canadian films that totally slipped past us, unnoticed. It happens… rarely, but it happens. Knowing who’s who and what to see will not only give you something to talk about, but will also give you some idea who you might be talking to at these parties. You can’t expect to be a part of the Canadian film industry if you don’t watch Canadian films.

Planning your party schedule requires a little strategy. There are early parties and late parties; if you do it right, you could have two parties every night and possibly a lunch-time barbeque on each of the weekends. But first you have to get on the right lists. That’s not easy if you don’t know who to talk to.

If you have a film in the festival, or have an industry pass, that makes it easier. You can introduce yourself to the party list coordinators by saying, “Hi I’m so-and-so, I’ve got a film in the festival called (insert name of film here).” What you really mean is that you scored a film in the festival, but if they misinterpret that as to mean that you’ve created a film showing in the festival, that’s their problem. Obviously, don’t lie if they ask further questions. Scoring a feature that shows at TIFF is still a pretty noteworthy thing.

Don’t brag about yourself or about the brilliant movie you just scored. Don’t even bring it up, not until they ask about you. This is just good manners, but it works.

Start with the party for the film you scored. Don’t take it for granted that your name will automatically be on the guest list. Nobody remembers the composer. Call the production company and ask for the guest-list co-ordinator for that film. Once you explain who you are, you should have no trouble getting an invitation. And make sure to go to the film before the party. Even though you know the film inside and out, you should really go. If the music was a hit, the director may call your name out to draw attention to you. It would really suck if you weren’t there to raise your hand and blow a kiss. Also, it would really suck if they totally replaced your score and didn’t tell you. If you don’t have a film in the festival, put it out there to your friends who do, to see if you can tag along as their “plus-one” guest. Buy them drinks before the party and be gracious if they can’t get you in. No one likes a plus-one whiner.

Some parties are really tight with their lists, some aren’t. If you’ve done this as many times as I have, you know who, how and when to ask. The more parties you go to, the more parties you’re likely to get invitations for. Chicken, meet egg. Egg, chicken. Failing that, hire a publicist to put your name onto everything.  If you can’t afford that and you’re feeling lucky, just get in line early and when they say, “Name?” say, “I totally forgot to RSVP.” Which again, technically isn’t a lie. The gatekeeper may say, “Okay, write your name and e-mail in at the bottom” and you’re in. Or she might just say. “Sorry… next!” Fortune favours the bold.

So now you’re in the party and asking yourself, ‘What do I do?’ Well for starters… have a good time! Talk to people in the bar line, ask them about themselves, what brings them here, and what party they’re going to next. Show genuine interest in what they’re doing. Don’t brag about yourself or about the brilliant movie you just scored. Don’t even bring it up, not until they ask about you. This is just good manners, but it works. “There’s a fine art to knowing how to conduct oneself in any environment,” says my friend Hilary Robinson at Polished Professionals. Whether you’re receiving a business card or brushing off a drunk Hollywood A-lister who wants to fight, there’s a certain grace to everything. Basically, it all boils down to relationships. Partying with your film-mates strengthens bonds (especially if you’re the one posting bail). Meeting new people widens your circle.

Keep the message simple: your name + composer + title they recognize = awesome person.  Oh, and don’t hand out your demo CD. Nobody wants to schlep it around all night. Even if they do, odds are it’ll get put on a shelf until the person you’ve given it to breaks up with their current partner and moves out (cut to box of CDs getting crushed in a landfill). You could use some of the cool USB flash drives out there: burn on your logo, load up some of your music and a PDF filmography. People like things they can they can use: USB key chains, USB bottle openers, USB nunchuks.  Though I think that’s still too “me-me-me.” Better to subtly drive them to your site and online playlist. It has to feel like their idea to listen, not yours. Facebook ‘em the next day and invite them to follow your artist/professional page.  If they’re young, then… Instagram or Snapchat ‘em, or whatever it is “the kids” do these days.

Dancing, drinking top-shelf whiskey and getting free swag is fun, of course, but the films and industry events are really what inspire me. Also, you never know who’ll be sitting next to you when the house lights come up. Be ready to pull out your business card at any moment. Look good, wear classy shoes, and don’t forget to trim your nose hairs.

As primed, preened and prepared as you may be for your TIFF experience, you also have to leave yourself open to the beautiful randomness of the universe. The best times I’ve had were with complete strangers I met through another group of complete strangers. One minute you’re getting into a cab to an unknown location, next thing you know, you’re doing tequila shots and watching Wim Wenders play ping-pong until sunrise.

Sir Winston Churchill once said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” And I say, never were truer words written.

Before I begin any projects, my mantra usually goes something like this: “Let’s face it Frew, you’re about to begin the grind and feel the pain and the anguish, put in the hundreds of hours required to make it the best it can possibly be, knowing full well… that nobody could care less or give a damn about it!”

Does that sound a little too gloomy for you? Not to me. On the contrary, I say that mantra is enduring. I say it’s honest, and best of all I say it’s inspiring, because it screams the truth and it begs of me to prove it wrong.

And so, up I get and onward I go to start yet another outrageously difficult and exhaustive project… all the way, loving it. Oh and just for the record, I’ve been doing that for close to 40 years!

“You have to live and breathe, eat and sleep and care uncompromisingly, no matter what the challenges are”

That’s right, get it into your heart and brain that other than your mom and dad, your sister and her new boyfriend, maybe the mailman, some friends and perhaps a few diehard fans from the past, no one really cares whether you or I ever write a book, record a new CD or ever get a hit single on the radio for the first time – or ever again.

Swamped by the need for instant gratification, and having an overwhelming abundance of entertainment outlets available to them, the mass audience we crave is NOT holding its collective breath awaiting our next masterpiece.

Will Jim Carrey make a new movie? Will the Stones tour yet again? Will Sting ever put The Police back together for a final hurrah? “Zzzzzzzzz!” says the planet. So, if no one cares, then why bother?

Well for one thing, the alternative of “doing nothing” is just not an option, at least not to me. Secondly, getting a “real job” as my mother always said, even AFTER my success, doesn’t fly with me either. I’ve done REAL jobs, many of them, and honest and forthright as that is, nothing beats making music and performing. Well, does it?

So what, then, is the answer if no one truly cares? It’s simple. There are two rules of thumb that I live by:

1) YOU HAVE TO CARE. You and only you can make it happen. Read Winston Churchill’s words again. You have to live and breathe, eat and sleep and care uncompromisingly, no matter what the challenges are, no matter what the naysayers around you say, or tell you differently.

2) YOU and only you, have to do something REMARKABLE in order to MAKE THEM CARE, or at the very least “somewhat” remarkable to at least make them sit up and take notice.

Just when you think it might be over for him on the funny side of things, Jim Carrey takes on “serious” roles; WE sit up and take notice and he wins two Golden Globes. Just when we say, “The Stones are too old for this,” they build a bigger stage, plan a bigger tour, play in Cuba, and Jagger covers it like a 25-year-old. WE sit up and take notice. He doesn’t give us The Police, we moan, but then Sting joins forces with Peter Gabriel and tours and WE go “How cool.” Do you get my point? Something out of the ordinary, something a little “remarkable.”

I wrote a song for Glass Tiger as good as any pop song I’ve ever written, yet radio programmers and Top 40 said, “No, it ain’t happening.” Instead, I come back with an album of classic ’80s covers called 80290Rewind and suddenly, it’s a little remarkable. “Hey, have you heard the guy from Glass Tiger singing Madonna? How about John Waite or Simple Minds or Tears for Fears?” Suddenly people go, “Hmmm that’s cool, let me take a look at that.”

I leave you with this: I wear a tattoo on my arm that says NO SURRENDER. Those words mean so very much to me.

On August 20, 2015, after working my ass off for two months of straight singing for that new album, I went to bed and suffered a stroke in my sleep. I was left with total paralysis on my right side afterwards, a broken heart and a crushed soul. As I write this now, I’ve just finished performing for the first time since that stroke, on live TV this morning, and crushed it. Hit it right out of the park, on what is probably THE most unforgiving format you can do. Also, as of this writing, in four days’ time, I perform the first of two sold-out shows in my hometown of Toronto!

I rest my case.