In 2015, Canadian music – and SOCAN member-created music – didn’t simply punch above its weight class internationally, and especially in the crucial American market, it meted out hit after hit after hit that brought the world’s music fans of virtually every stripe not to their knees, but to their feet.
Call it a standing O count.
On the Billboard Hot 100 chart dated the week of Dec. 19, 2015 – after dominating the top of the chart since September – Canadian artists owned a staggering seven of the Top 10 spots. That included four SOCAN members: Drake at No. 3 with “Hotline Bling,” The Weeknd at No. 5 with “The Hills,” Shawn Mendes at No. 6 with “Stitches,” and Alessia Cara at No. 8 with “Here.” Adele was No. 1 with “Hello,” and SOCAN member Tobias Jesso Jr. co-wrote “When We Were Young” with her, a song included in her album 25, which sold seven million units in less than a month.
Rolling Stone called the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” the top song of 2015, and the Grammys gave him seven nominations. Drake earned three Grammy nominations on his own, and two as a feature on Nicki Minaj recordings. Several other SOCAN members also received multiple Grammy nods, including Belly, Daheala, Stephan Moccio (all three for their co-writing work on the Weeknd’s “Earned It”) and Boi-1da (for his work on songs by Drake and others).
The Weeknd took home two 2016 Grammys for his work in 2015, as “Earned It” won for Best R&B Performance, while Beauty Behind the Madness won for Best Urban Contemporary Album. He won five JUNO Awards in 2016, for his 2015 work: the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriter of the Year, Artist of the Year, Single of the Year (for “Can’t Feel My Face”), Album of the Year and R&B/Soul Recording of the Year (both for Beauty Behind the Madness). The Weeknd also performed on both the Grammy and JUNO Awards broadcasts. In 2015, he commandeered pop radio worldwide, appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, and performed on Saturday Night Live. Beauty Behind the Madness was Spotify’s most streamed album of 2015 worldwide, contributing to The Weeknd’s total to date of well over a billion streams on the service.
According to Spotify, Alessia Cara had the most viral song in the U.S. in 2015 with her breakthrough debut single, “Here” – co-written with Bobby Brass, Sammy Blues, and Tee, all of Kuya Productions. Cara was Breakthrough Artist of the Year at the 2016 JUNO Awards, one of four nominations (the three others being the Fan Choice Award, Single of the Year for “Here,” and R&B/Soul Recording of the Year for her Four Pink Walls EP). “Here” reached the Top Five in the U.S. and the Top 20 in Canada, and its video has now been viewed more than 88 million times on YouTube. Her debut full-length album Know-It-All album went Top 10 in Canada and the U.S., Top 20 in the U.K. and Australia, and won rave reviews from Billboard, the NME, the New York Times, and Exclaim! In 2015, Cara made her U.S. network television debut singing “Here” on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and Taylor Swift invited Cara onstage to sing it with her in front of 55,000 people in Tampa, Florida.
In 2015 Shawn Mendes released his full-length album Handwritten, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart with 119,000 equivalent album units, selling 106,000 copies in its first week. The third single from the album, “Stitches,” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming his first Top 10 single in the U.S., and later his first No. 1 on the Mainstream Top 40 chart. Mendes also opened for Taylor Swift during 1989 World Tour dates in North America. Mendes was listed among Time magazine’s “25 Most Influential Teens in 2015.” Mendes and Camila Cabello from Fifth Harmony released their collaborative track “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” included on Mendes’ Handwritten Revisited re-issue. It reached the Top 20 on both the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and the Canadian Hot 100.
2015 was also Drake’s year, as confirmed when SPIN magazine called him Artist of the Year. From releasing his surprise album If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, to teaming up with Future to release another album, What a Time to Be Alive, to “Hotline Bling,” he owned 2015. Reading sold about 500,000 units in its first three days, and became 2015’s first album to sell a million copies. Drake had more than 25 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2015. “Hotline Bling” became an instant sensation and viral meme, and the official video has now been viewed more than 680 million times. “Bling” quickly achieved the kind of pop-cultural ubiquity no other major artist achieved in 2015. The song peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and inspired covers and re-mixes from Sufjan Stevens, Erykah Badu, Lil Wayne, Disclosure and Sam Smith, Justin Bieber, Jadakiss, Alessia Cara, and countless others.
SOCAN screen composers also excelled. Andrew Lockington – who recorded an old upright piano being systematically destroyed in order to create unique sounds for the movie San Andreas – saw the film reach the top of the North American box office in May of 2015, then repeat that feat in seven other countries around the world. Also on the global front, Mychael Danna (Academy Award winner for Life of Pi) and his brother Jeff Danna scored the animated worldwide hit movie The Good Dinosaur.
Alexe Gaudreault exploded onto the music scene in 2013 when she blew away two million TV viewers on the hit TV show La Voix (the Quebec edition of the TV series franchise The Voice) with her powerful interpretation of the Jacques Brel classic “Quand on n’a que l’amour.” In 2015, Gaudreault spent 52 weeks (a full year!) on the Top 100 BDS chart – including a seven-week run at No. 1, and 10 weeks in the Top 10 – with her song “Placebo,” co-written with John Nathaniel (ASCAP) and her fellow SOCAN member Mariane Cossette-Bacon. SOCAN suprised Gaudreault by presenting her with a No. 1 Song Award to on the popular Quebec TV program Belle et Bum.
Ria Mae‘s huge 2015 hit single “Clothes Off” was nominated for Single of the Year at the 2016 JUNO Award. “Clothes Off” hit Top 10 at Adult Contemporary Radio, was certified Gold in Canada, and garnered more than 1.7 million views on Vevo. In the 2016 EMCAs, she was nominated for Fans’ Choice Video of the Year and Video of the Year, both for the 2015 clip for “Clothes Off.”
Since his JUNO Breakthrough Artist of the Year in 2014, Brett Kissel has played the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, and was nominated for Country Album of the Year (for 2015’s Pick Me Up) at the 2016 JUNOs. Pick Me Up’s first single, “Airwaves,” became Brett’s first No. 1 song at country radio, while its music video reached number 1 on CMT’s Top 20 Countdown.
Jean Leloup won no less than five ADISQ Awards in 2015: Singer, Songwriter, and Song of the Year (for “Paradis City”), the Critic’s Choice Award, and Rock Album of the Year (both for À Paradis City). The album also won a 2016 JUNO Award as Francophone Album of the Year, and a nomination for Album of the Year as well. It was quite the comeback for his first studio album in six years, which Leloup said he wrote over the course of the past decade.
Cœur de Pirate was nominated for the 2016 JUNO Fan Choice Award, as well as a nomination for the SOCAN-sponsored Songwriter of the Year JUNO, based on the huge success of her bilingual 2015 album Roses. In 2015, she also signed a record contract with American label Cherrytree/Interscope, expanding her efforts not only to English Canada by singing in English, but also to the United States – where she’s garnering significant attention.
Among SOCAN’s screen composers, Parmjit Sarai and Manjeet Ral won a 2015 Canadian Screen Award for Achievement in Music – Original Song, for their co-write, “Dal Makhani,” from the movie Dr. Cabbie. Robert Carli took home the honours for Best Original Music Score, for the CBC series Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery; John Welsman was awarded Best Original Music for a Non-Fiction Program or Series, for the documentary Tales from the Organ Trade; Trevor Yuile won Best Original Music Score for a Series, for Orphan Black. At the eighteenth annual Quebec Cinema Awards in 2016, Martin Léon won Best Original Music for his work in 2015 on Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre (My Internship in Canada).??Singer-songwriter, producer, arranger, and recording engineer (largely at his own Studio 1036), Claude Bégin is a predominant figure in Québec City’s pop and rap scenes, and is best known for his work with Accrophone, Movèzerbe, and especially the rebellious Alaclair Ensemble. Now his first solo outing has earned him a SOCAN No. 1 Award (in 2016) – his first as a solo artist – as “Celle qui chante” reached No. 1 on the Correspondants chart on Nov. 10, 2015, and stayed there for seven weeks.
Music publisher ole was extremely active in 2015. On the acquisitions front, ole acquired the Anthem Entertainment Group – the label home of Rush as well as Big Wreck, Ian Thornley, Steven Page, The Tea Party, and other artists – and U.S.-based Jingle Punks, creating one of the world’s largest production music libraries. ole also signed or expanded its co-publishing deals with various high-profile singer-songwriters, including award-winning electronic DJ/producer Ryan Hemsworth, 19-time CCMA winner Gord Bamford, country superstar George Canyon (including both his back catalog and future copyrights), and renowned American Grammy Award-winning producer and artist Timbaland.
In 2015, internationally, Sony/ATV Music Publishing signed a $750-million agreement with Michael Jackson’s estate to buy his stake in the company, and signed a licensing deal with online radio service Pandora, and laid the groundwork to sign SOCAN member pop sensation Grimes to a worldwide publishing deal in 2016. Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada had huge, worldwide success representing the latest work of Drake, Arcade Fire (both via EMI Music Publishing Canada) and The Weeknd, as well as great domestic success with Scott Helman and staff songwriter/producers like Thomas “Tawgs” Salter and Dave “Dwave” Thomson.
Publisher Warner/Chappell Music Canada continues to work its wide-ranging Canadian catalogue repertoire, including Spirit of the West, The Rheostatics, Stan Meissner, Gordon Lightfoot (which they acquired in 2014) and Rita MacNeil – whose songs, perhaps surprisingly, continue to find placements worldwide, including in Australia, Japan, Germany, Sweden, England and more. Other SOCAN members signed to Warner/Chappell include Tomi Swick, Michael Bernard Fitzgerald, and a strong roster of urban Canadian artists, including Jully Black, Kardinal Offishall (signed at age 20), Glenn Lewis and Saukrates — whose catalogue track “Father Time” has been sampled recently by Skrillex, A$AP Rocky, and French DJ group Birdy Nam Nam.
Riffing on our first-ever Cultural Impact Award winner’s classic song, the 2015 SOCAN Awards focused on a theme of “Born To Be…” with a who’s who of the Canadian music industry gathering in Toronto on June 22, 2015, to honour Canada’s most talented songwriters, composers, lyricists and music publishers. Sponsored by Gowlings, KPMG, RBC and HMV, and hosted by CMT Canada’s Paul McGuire, the 26th SOCAN Awards recognized the lifetime and more recent achievements of Canada’s music creators and publishers.
Recipients of SOCAN’s major achievement awards were the legendary Randy Bachman (Lifetime Achievement), Dallas Green (National Achievement), MAGIC! (International Achievement), music industry pioneer Bernie Finkelstein (Special Achievement), and “Born to be Wild” songwriter Mars Bonfire, who received the Cultural Impact Award. All accepted their honours in-person, as did R&B chart-toppers The Weeknd and Belly, rising country stars Brett Kissel and Tim Hicks, and film and TV composers Keith Power and Andrew Lockington, among many others.
Performers included soulful young sensation Francesco Yates, who sang “Better to be Loved”; heavy metal rockers Anvil, who honoured Mars Bonfire with a thundering rendition of “Born to be Wild”; Kristian Alexandrov, Olena Kilchyk, Calvin Beale and Doan Pham, who played a medley of film and TV themes; “doom soul” singer-songwriter Cold Specks, who re-defined Warren Pash’s SOCAN Classic Award-winning song “Private Eyes”; and Randy Bachman, backed by Toronto rockers Big Sugar and an all-star cast of Canadian music makers and executives who closed the show “Takin’ Care of Business” – accompanied by 600 guests each playing a custom cowbell – more cowbell!
Montréal’s famed Métropolis for the first time set the stage for the annual SOCAN Awards Gala, on Monday, October 5, 2015. The legendary Gilles Vigneault and his immortal anthem “Gens du pays” was honoured with SOCAN’s first-ever Francophone Cultural Impact Award. The evening was hosted by the prolific singer-songwriter Dumas.
Recognizing the massive contribution that film and television composers make to the genre and economy, no fewer than seven SOCAN Awards were presented to the most successful. Alex Nevsky won the Songwriter of the Year Award, and two additional Popular Song awards (Francophone) for “Les coloriés” and “Notre amour.”
Donald Tarlton, founder of the concert promoting company Donald K. Donald, and co-founder of Tacca Musique and Aquarius Records, won the SOCAN Special Achievement Award. The SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Pierre Létourneau, one of the most important songwriters in Québec; a prolific artist who has written an impressive number of hits, both for himself and many, many artists. Arcade Fire won the SOCAN Award for International Achievement, the International Song award for their song “Reflektor,” as well as two Popular Song (Anglophone) awards for “Afterlife” and “Reflektor.”
Kevin Parent earned five SOCAN Classic Awards, making him the most awarded songwriter of the 2015 gala. The SOCAN Classic Award presented to Michel Rivard for his song “Le Privé” was the 15th of his career, while the two SOCAN Classic Awards offered to Luc Plamondon were the 31st and 32nd of his storied career, making him the most awarded songwriter in the history of the SOCAN Montreal Awards Gala.
Throughout the year, SOCAN honours our creator members who achieve the No. 1 position on various renowned Canadian and international charts. We work to present each member, in-person, with a beautiful medallion-plaque that’s inspired by “The SOCAN,” the trophy that we present to achievement winners at our annual awards in Toronto and Montréal. The following is the list of SOCAN members whom we honoured over 2015 with a SOCAN No.1 Song Award.
Performer: Fito Blanko
Writers: Fito Blanko, Sensei Musica, Roberto Fernandez (ASCAP), Jose Garcia (BMI), Pitbull (BMI) and Jorge Martinez Gomez (BMI)
Publishers: Abuela Y Tia Songs, Envivo Publishing, No I in Team Music Publishing, Sony/ATV Songs, BMG Rights Management Canada
Used in a key scene in the movie Furious 7, which reached No. 1 on the North American Box Office Chart on April 15, 2015
“Lay Me Down”
Performer: Fortunate Ones
Writers: Both songs were co-written by Catherine Allen and Andrew James O’Brien, while “Lay Me Down” was also co-written with Murray Foster.
Reached No. 1 On: Both on the CBC Radio 2 Top 20 chart, on Feb. 27, 2015 (“The Bliss”), and Aug. 14, 2015 (“Lay Me Down”)
Film Score for San Andreas
Performer: Andrew Lockington
Composer: Andrew Lockington
San Andreas reached No. 1 at the North American box office in May of 2015, and in seven other countries after that.
Performer: Scott Helman
Writers: Both songs were co-written by Scott Helman, Ron Lopata, Thomas “Tawgs” Salter and Simon Wilcox, while “That Sweater” was also co-written with Michael Wise.
Publishers: Fun Cooker, peer International Ltd. (Canada), Sony ATV Music Publishing Canada.
Reached No. 1 On: Both on the CBC Radio 2 Top 20 chart, on Nov. 21, 2014 (“Bungalow) and May 29, 2015 (“That Sweater”)
“I Can’t Feel My Face”
“Love Me Harder”
Performer: The Weeknd
Writers: The Weeknd (all songs); Stephan Moccio (“Earned It”); Belly (“Earned It,” “The Hills,” “Often,” “Love Me Harder,” “Live For”); Daheala (“Earned It,” “Often,” “Live For”)
Publishers: SONGS Music Publishing, Warner Chappell Music Canada, CP Music Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada, Universal Music Publishing Canada
Reached No. 1 On: Billboard Hot 100, Aug. 22, 2015 (“I Can’t Feel My Face”); Billboard Mainstream R&B/Hip Hop Chart, May 2, 2015 (“Earned It”); Billboard Hot 100, Oct. 3, 2015 (“The Hills”); MuchMusic Countdown (“Often,” Feb. 20, 2015; “Love Me Harder,” Jan. 30, 2015; “Live For,” Dec. 13, 2013).
Performer: Dean Brody
Writer: Dean Brody
Publisher: Scurvy Dog Music
Reached No. 1 On: CMT Countdown Chart, April 9, 2015
“Make You Mine”
“She’s With Me”
Performer: High Valley
Writers: Brad Rempel, Seth Mosley (SESAC), Ben Stennis (BMI),
Publisher: Centricity Music Publishing (ASCAP)
Reached No. 1 On: CMT Countdown Chart, “Make You Mine” on March 27, 2015, “She’s With Me” on August 14, 2015.
Writers: Luke Doucet, Melissa McClelland, Gustavo Coriandoli
Reached No. 1 On: CBC Radio 2 Top 20 Chart, Jan. 23, 2015
“Mine Would Be You”
Performer: Blake Shelton
Writers: Deric Ruttan, Jessi Alexander (ASCAP), Connie Hannington (BMI)
Publisher: Warner Chappell Music Canada Ltd.
Reached No. 1 On: Nielsen BDS Country Chart, July 10, 2013
“Oublie-moi (Carry On)”
Performer: Cœur de Pirate
Writer: Cœur de Pirate
Publisher: by Les Éditions Dare to Care
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, June 15, 2015
Writers: Sonny Caouette, Érik Caouette
Publishers: Les Éditions du Baume, Les Éditions Marcha
Reached No. 1 On: Correspondents Chart, Aug. 11, 2015
“Rien ne sert de courir”
Performer: Karim Ouellet
Writer: Karim Ouellet
Publisher: Coyote Records
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, May 19, 2014
Performer: Alex Nevsky
Writer: Alex Nevsky, Gabriel Gratton, Mathieu Laliberté
Publisher: Avenue Éditorial
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, October 13, 2014
“Je cours après Marie”
Performer: Patrice Michaud
Writer: Patrice Michaud
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, October 20, 2014
“L’amour est un monstre”
Performer: Karim Ouellet & Misteur Valaire
Writer: Claude Bégin, Karim Ouellet, François Simon Déziel, Jonathan Drouin, Julien Harbec, Thomas Hébert, Louis-Pierre Phaneuf
Publisher: Coyote Records, Éditions M. Label, Indica Records, Éditions LaBe, Sync.mu
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, November 3, 2014
“La bonne franquette”
Writer: Éric Maheu
Publisher: Éditions Groupe Archambault
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, January 5, 2015
“Là dans ma tête”
Performer: Marc Dupré
Writer: Marc Dupré, Nelson Minville, Gautier Marinof
Publisher: Éditions Dama, Éditions chansons du Suisse
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, January 12, 2015
“Les heures de visite”
Performer: Sally Folk
Writer: Anique Granger, Michel Dagenais, Sophia D’Aragon Krim
Publisher: Éditions Bloc-Notes, David Murphy et cie, Éditions de l’Ère Atomique
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, April 2, 2015
“Rien à faire”
Performer: Marie-Pierre Arthur
Writer: Gaele Tavernier, Marie-Pierre Arthur, François Lafontaine, Samuel Joly
Publisher: Éditions Fon Fon, David Murphy et cie, Éditions Gratte moi l’dos, Éditions Pout Blishing
Reached No. 1 On: Québec Correspondents Chart, April 2, 2015
Performer: Ariane Moffatt
Writer: Ariane Moffatt
Publisher: Éditions Mo’Fat
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, April 13, 2015
“Avant de disparaitre”
Performer: Claude Bégin
Writer: Claude Bégin
Publisher: Coyote Records
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, April 27, 2015 & Québec Correspondents Chart, April 20, 2015
“Si tu reviens”
Performer: Louis-Jean Cormier
Writer: Louis-Jean Cormier
Publisher: Yeux Boussoles
Reached No. 1 On: Québec Correspondents Chart, May 4, 2015
Performer: Alex Nevsky
Writer: Alex Nevsky, Gabriel Gratton, Laurence Lafond-Beaulne
Publisher: Avenue Éditorial
Reached No. 1 On: Québec BDS Chart, June 8, 2015 & Québec Correspondents Chart, June 1, 2015
Performer: Nicki Minaj feat. Drake
Publisher: EMI Music Publishing Canada
Represented Writer: Drake
Chart: Billboard Mainstream Hip Hop/R&B Airplay Chart, Mar. 21, 2015
Performer: Arcade Fire
Publisher: EMI Music Publishing Canada
Represented Writers: Win Butler, Will Butler, Régine Chassagne, Jeremy Gara, Tim Kingsbury, Richard Parry
Chart: MuchMusic Countdown, Oct. 10, 2014
Performer: The Weeknd
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing
Represented Writer: The Weeknd
Chart: Billboard Hot 100 Oct. 3, 2015; Billboard Mainstream R&B Hip Hop Chart, Oct. 10, 2015; MuchMusic Countdown Chart, Aug. 28, 2015
Performer: Scott Helman
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Fun Cooker/peermusic
Represented Writers: Scott Helman, Ron Lopata, Thomas Salter, Simon Wilcox, Michael Wise
Chart: CBC Radio 2 Top 20, May 29, 2015
“Jealous (I Ain’t With It)”
Publisher: Sony/ATV Music Publishing, Fun Cooker/peermusic
Represented Writers: Simon Wilcox, Nolan Lambrozza (BMI), Nick Jonas (BMI)
Chart: MuchMusic Countdown, Feb. 13, 2015.
“Together We Are One”
Performer: Serena Ryder
Publishers: Cymba Music, Bloc Notes Music Publishing Inc,
Represented Writers: Jasmine Baird, Serena Ryder, Murray Daigle, Roberto Bisciglia
Chart: CBC Radio 2 Top 20, July 10, 2015
The tenth year of the prestigious SOCAN Songwriting Prize celebrated the best Canadian music written by emerging English and French songwriters over the past year. Since its original inception as the “Echo Songwriting Prize,” the stature of the award has gone from strength to strength, and is considered throughout the Canadian music ecosystem and beyond as the pre-eminent prize for emerging songwriters.
For two weeks, votes were cast online for the English and French nominees’ songs. Fans voted for one of the five nominated songs – nominated by a panel of music industry experts – in each of the English- and French-language contests.
Vancouver-based “alt-rock, electro-dance and all around rad music duo” Dear Rouge won the English 2015 SOCAN Songwriting Prize for their song “I Heard I Had,” written by band members Drew and Danielle McTaggart. Montréaler Antoine Corriveau achieved the equivalent Francophone prize for his song “Le nouveau vocabulaire.”
Dear Rouge and Corriveau each took home a $10,000 cash prize, along with a Martin D-16GT acoustic guitar, a Yamaha PSR-S950 keyboard, a $500 Gift Card from Long & McQuade, 20 hours of studio time with Timothy Abraham, and six hours of vocal coaching with Amanda Mabro.
Dear Rouge visited the SOCAN Toronto offices to be presented with their prizes, play an acoustic session for our staff, and answer some friendly questions. “Being honoured and recognized for songwriter craftsmanship is probably the greatest respect and appreciation a musician can receive,” said Danielle McTaggart. “We’re awestruck by every one of the nine other nominated songs, each of which could have been a worthy winner. Thanks to our fans for voting and to SOCAN for organizing this great contest, and for sticking up for the rights of songwriters like us.”
Antoine Corriveau received his cheque and prizes during the Festival d’été de Québec. He said, “I’m stunned and unbelievably happy to announce that I’ve won the Prix de la chanson SOCAN! That song was there, on the back burner, a long-haul work in progress, for several months. To see it rewarded like this today touches me deeply.”
The other nine nominated English songs were:
The other nine nominated French songs were:
The SOCAN Songwriting Prize continues to build its reputation in both French and English as the most prestigious award for emerging Canadian songwriters, and we look forward to showcasing more of Canada’s amazing talent going forward.