Screenshot of the FYIMusic.ca site that now redirects users to the newly launched NewCanadianMusic.ca site.
Canada's only dedicated music industry news source, FYIMusic.ca, has shut down. In its place FYIMuisc publisher David Farrell [a former Billboard Canadian editor] and backer Gary Slaight of Slaight Music have launched a new site, NewCanadianMusic.ca, a database of 35,000 Canadian artists and counting, which focuses on new releases each week from all genres and levels, signed and unsigned.
"It started about five months ago," said Farrell off the stage at an invite-only presentation for the beta version of the site at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. "I had a discussion with Gary. The mandate was pretty simple - to create an invocative and new web site that would both market and promote Canadian artists and provide an opportunity for discovery of new Canadian music."
Farrell was the long-time publisher of Canadian music industry trade paper The Record, which launched in 1981 and became online-only in 1999, then folded two years later. In May of that year, another attempt was made at a trade publication, Canadian Music Network, spearheaded by Canadian concert promoter and label owner Donald Tarlton and Australian artist manager and magazine publisher John Woodruff. That shut down in 2004.
Slaight Music's Gary Slaight introduces new venture, NewCanadianMusic.ca at a presentation for the beta version of the site at the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto. (Photo: Luther Mallory)
"When I left the business 10 years ago, there were a small number of Canadian artists travelling the world and fewer still with tangible foreign success," Farrell tells Billboard of FYI's closure. "When I returned to the music business and started up FYIMusic four years ago, I was stunned by the level of activity. Obviously trying to package a concise overview of the industry was too much for one person. NewCanadianMusic.ca is a team effort with resources behind it and a finely tuned focus. It's a dream come true."
Along with Slaight and Derrick Ross of Slaight Music, which is seeding the for-profit venture, is Barnaby Marshall of Pod 10 Art + Design, who together with wife Carmen Dunjko designed and built NewCanadianMusic.ca.
"We sold our company about three or four years ago," said Slaight referring to the $1.08 billion sale of his family's broadcasting empire Standard Broadcasting in 2007 to Astral Media (recently sold to BCE).
"One of the focuses we wanted to make with the small portion of cashola was to support Canadian talent. So fortunate enough to find my friend Derrick Ross and we started something called Slaight Music and through the process, in the last three or four months, aside from working with bunch of artists that we love decided that we wanted to build a web site to promote and support Canadian talent. And we brought in a team including David Farrell and Barnaby Marshall to put the web site together. I just said go do it and it I think they've done a super job."
Farrell, who spoke briefly, said the site was built with Marshall's "technical savvy and innovative ideas" and Dunjko's "luxurious" design and is rich in content and simple to use. He added that he is looking for feedback in the weeks to come.
"This is a business and we hope that once we've created an audience, we will be looking for sponsorship and advertisers," said Farrell. "Equally important, this isn't our web site; this is a site that is designed to embrace musicians, people who put out records. It's very important that we get input from each and every one of you. It's Canadian music's site."
Farrell will also be writing a weekly column for the site similar to the one his did for FYI about happenings in the Canadian music biz.
David Farrell (left) and Barnaby Marshall presenting NewCanadianMusic.ca (photo: Luther Mallory)
Marshall - who is also the founder of music video database Rock Peaks - then took over the presentation, showing the various features of the "version 1.0" site, including: the pictures of each release in "vinyl style" that can be flipped by a click to show additional release information and link to purchase on various sites; the ability to filter by genre; placement on Google Maps in order to see where the releases are concentrated; streaming music powered by Mediazoic and changed weekly and a video of the week powered by Rock Peaks. There will also be a social map - a set of charts aggregating social media metrics - to show the activity of Facebook "likes," YouTube plays and more, to be rolled out sometime over the next four weeks when the site is fully launched and search-engine optimized.
"When we sat down last fall to launch something new and innovative that would serve the Canadian music industry, we started looking around the web and we were quite surprised to see that there wasn't a site that gave us a picture of everything that came out in a week in Canada," said Marshall. "You would think that that would be a kind of obvious thing, but we did a lot of Googling, a lot of searching.
"Not even the mighty iTunes, who we turned to for support on this, break stuff out by nationality. So what we did is we put together a database of Canadian artists. We took repeated entries and took stuff from CBC radio 3. We build a database of about 35,000 artists and then what we basically do is we compare against all the releases that Apple puts out, throw away all the international ones because we don't really care about them, just keep the Canadian ones and present them in a weekly grid format which is what you're looking at here. "