GWNtertainment #38 by JAIMIE VERNON

I’m just going to throw this truth bomb into the middle of the room as it’s something that needs to be mentioned on the heels of the entire Spotify “doesn’t pay artists” discussion. Though it’s NOT the same business model, the results are the same in terms of exploitation of music artists: broadcast terrestrial radio does not pay artists either. Not in 100 years of transmissions on the airwaves. Anywhere. Ever. You know who DOES get paid when they play a song on your radio? Songwriters. The people that write the songs get a few pennies per spin – substantially more than any of the streaming services – but still, it’s mere pennies. Stations pay an annual fee for spinning tracks to performing rights organizations (in Canada it’s SOCAN, in the US they have BMI and ASCAP). Songwriters, God bless them, closed ranks and got their foot in the door early in radio’s development as they’d already seen sheet music sales crushed once people could start buying music on vinyl. Musicians did not organize…because their record labels were supposed to advocate for them. HAHAHAHA.

You know what the artists get who perform the songs you hear on the radio? Nothing. Nada. Not a dime, Radio was the inventor of the “Be grateful we’re  giving you exposure, kid” self-righteous patronizing pat on the head. The house of cards built on this model allowed record labels to showcase the talent they signed with the hopes that the stations would give that artist’s new song enough spins to influence the public into buying product (and the payola scandals in several different decades was a means by which the labels coerced the stations into playing specific records). And those sales would, in turn, influence the chart makers who would tabulate such things – all in the name of pushing the record to #1. That number one record would make the artists into stars and radio paid those artists nothing for the privilege. The artist would get only a percentage of record sales from their record label as payment. This had been the routine since the dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll. And the public has been oblivious to all of this. Radio killed the radio star long before MTV slammed the coffin lid tight.
There have been in-roads in the digital age where stations broadcasting through their websites or on apps like iHeartRadio would pay a fee to neighbouring rights organizations (Sound Exchange,  Re: Sound, MROC). Satellite radio also pays into those collectives as well. The good news is that money does go to artists. But broadcast radio (which includes your high profile stations owned by Bell, Rogers, etc.) has been getting free use of music, unchallenged, for 10 decades.

None of this is to take the heat off Spotify or other streaming platforms – we’ve already established that they are not paying artists nearly enough….especially for the amount of individual spins listeners are having (substantially more than a song would ever get “played” on terrestrial broadcast radio). What many don’t know is that, unlike radio, streaming platforms don’t pay songwriters either. At all. Ever.  Since the dawn of digital. They’ve managed to weasel their way out of the legal definition of being a “broadcaster” and the performing rights organizations are being cock-blocked.

So the streamers are double dipping on the rip-off con. No one making music is making money from streaming unless they are the chosen superstars who’ve negotiated separate royalty deals like Taylor Swift, Adele, or The Weeknd. This is why there is so much unrest among creators and so much greed among those who control that music for public consumption. Songwriters and musicians have organizations trying to negotiate better deals all the time but the process has been slow and frustrating. [this week a US sub-committee met with music creators to try and resolve this financial disparity – more on that as it develops]. This is because the copyright acts in most nations have not kept up with the digital age, and our legislators have not kept up with regulating.

As an active musician with music released commercially since the early 1980s, I can say that my fellow music creators have been eternally exploited and we’re at our wits end. All I can ask of listeners now is to rally to our side and deal direct with the us – the creators. If you’re into physical product, buy it. That money has a better chance of getting to the artist direct. And if you must listen digitally, please download the tracks. Go to the artist’s website or find a digital platform that offers downloads – Bandcamp, Amazon, Qobuz, and iTunes, etc.

* Canada’s very own Darby Mills joins rock royalty like Doro, Robin McCauley, Joel Hoekstra for a virtual-recording flashback to 80s melodic rock under the collective name Circle of Friends on the album ‘The Garden.’ She performs the song “Trick of the Light.” Escape Music in Europe will be releasing the album March 25th.

* (The Spirit of) Christmas‘ 1974 album ‘Lies To Live By’ has been remastered and re-issued on CD by Belle Antique Records out of Japan. The release is available here:

* Condolences to friends and family of great Canadian singer Donny Gerrard who passed February 3. Many Canadian would know Donny’s voice from the classic Skylark hit “Wildflower.”

* Singer, guitarist, and founding member of Prism, Al Harlow, has a new solo album entitled ‘Now!’ coming on February 14. It includes the Al Harlow/Jim Vallance/Bryan Adams co-written “Way of the World.” You can pre-order the CD from his website:

* As noted last fall, Gene MacLellan‘s debut album has finally been re-mastered and is now available on white vinyl. Features Gene’s popular tunes “Snowbird” and “Death of the Black Donnellys.”*/*/Gene-MacLellan-180-Gram-White-Vinyl/75YM0000000

* Last year there was a Rush beer brand. And now, there are not one, but  TWO, new Rush pinball machines  from Stern Pinball now available. That is all.

Church of Trees is set to release its 5th album ‘Pish Posh’ on February 15th. The album features Stella Panacci (Kat Rocket, The Angry Moon) on vocals. Pre-order the CD today:


* Toronto-based Ian Lake is one of Canada’s most gifted actors, and now he can add musician to the mix. His highly acclaimed single “The Bottom” was released in 2021, from his upcoming debut album ‘What It Is’, which is set for release in 2022. The new single and video “Easier.”

* We’re excited to see that after a very long absence from music, Jully Black is back with her first single this year called “No Relation” on her own record label Jully Black Entertainment.

* Ottawa singer-songwriter Francine Honey brings us her new new single and video for the song “Hunker Down.”

* Anushka Kashyap is an R&B/Pop singer based in Vancouver, British Columbia and her new music video  & single is “Don’t.”

[Manic Boys]

* Toronto rock duo The Manic Boys And Girls Club’s track “Blacked Out” has been remixed by horror film composer, producer, and musician Paul Andrews.

* Last Fall Burlington’s Patty Green gave us a cover of Carole  King’s “It Too Late” which chalked up 1300  views on YouTube. She’s now got a new original track called “All Over Again” which will surely gain her more eyes/ears.

* Emmy Gryner & Sean Kelly are back with another rock offering from their band Trapper. “Winterlong” is the kick off track from our Songs from the ‘Electric North’ EP.

* Last week we mentioned the new cover tunes album by Betty Moon called ‘Undercover.’ We were thrilled to see Betty has also added one of her original tracks among songs by The Rolling Stones, Kate Bush, Bob Dylan, and Stevie Nicks. The new tune is “Valentine” – just in time for lovers on February 14.

* In 2019, Moxy’s Earl Johnson reached out to drummer David Davidson who, in turn, called up bassist Don Hill from Six Nations. As the trio started working together and original songs progressed, the newly christened Long Black Cadillacs got in touch with vocalist Chris Jackson, and keyboardist Brandon Swire. The band has already played a handful of gigs during the pandemic and are presently in the midst of recording new songs for a full album. The first single is the Santana flavoured ballad “True Love” written for Johnson’s common-law wife Debbie Sutton who sadly passed away in 2019.

* Brent “Jay Diss” Jadis is an Aboriginal artist from Prince Edward Island whose new song is “Voices.” WARNING: explicit lyrics.

* Vancouver’s Mad Symphony brings together Kevin Wright (lead vocals, percussion), Dave Groves (lead guitar), Ted Tosoff (rhythm guitar), Mike Russell (keys), Amrit Prasad (bass), and Wes Hallam (drums) into a rock supergroup. Their  eponymous EP is due soon and the first single is “Do It Again.”

* Marla & David Celia‘s new album is called “Indistinct Chatter’ and the lead-off single is “Struggling with the Yin Yang.”

*Toronto-based former ‘The Launch’ contestant & Mini Pop Kid Victoria Alex has a new EP on the way and the debut single is called “Screaming.” There is an explicit and clean version of the tune. Here’s the explicit one:

* Vancouver’s Laurie Biagiani continues her comeback with more new material for an upcoming album. She’s given us a cool groovy pop track called “Hey Mr. DJ.”

* Steve Welch gives us a special wintery video release – filmed at the old Guelph quarry during a recent snowstorm and it’s a packed house – playing music for the trees. The song “Guilty” is from the recently released album ‘Upland.’

* Men Without Hats are following up their recent cover tunes EP, ‘Again (Part1)’, with a sequel called ‘Again (Part 2)’ due March 11, 2022.

* Back in the early part of their career, Grapes of Wrath had recorded a version of The Beatles’ “If I Needed Someone.” As recently as last October they were playing the song again in their live show.

This issue was brought to you by: Artists everywhere. They need your support.
Send us your news, views, and all manner of CANADIAN musical releases to promote and wave a flag for. Join the GWN Facebook page and drop us a message:

Keep up the fight!
Jaimie Vernon, 2022


Jaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 41 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 24 years. He is also the author of The Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and editor of “Sunny Days: The Skip Prokop Story.” Available through Amazon.

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