A sold-out room of industry heavyweights from every area of the music industry gathered in Toronto last night at the Sheraton Centre's Grand Ballroom to honour more than 40 Canadian businesses and individuals at the 2015 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards.
The categories covered labels, agencies, management, promoters, radio, venues and retail -- all voted on privately by "verified" members of the music industry, via Canadian Music Week's online ballot system.
Those winners were all announced on a screen via voiceover, while the onstage time was dedicated to three of the four Hall of Fame inductees, one humanitarian, two special achievement honourees and one emerging artist. The Trews, Billy Talent and Cowboy Junkies all performed; comedian Jeremy Hotz hosted.
The new members of the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame were Warner Music Canada president Steve Kane, former Corus CEO John Cassaday, eOne CEO Darren Throop and alternative roots-rock group Cowboy Junkies.
Rock music icon and social activist Bryan Adams received the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award. i.t. Media Broadcasting CEO Shushma Datt was selected for the Rosalie Trombley Award, celebrating women trailblazers in radio and reggae-pop act Magic! -- not in attendance -- received the Nielsen Entertainment Canadian Emerging Artist Award.
There was mention of Roundhouse Radio CEO Don Shafer's Allan Waters Broadcast Lifetime Achievement Award but the presentation will happen at today's Canadian Radio Music Awards.
Slaight Music's Gary Slaight kicked off the evening by presenting Adams' humanitarian award, named after Gary's father, Allan, who built and sold radio empire Standard Broadcasting and now operates the The Slaight Family Foundation. "It's an honour to be here tonight to pay tribute to one of the most successful musicians Canada has ever produced," Slaight said. "Tonight we pay tribute to his incredible humanitarian work. Bryan's global success didn't just allow him to connect with fans in far off countries, it also opened his eyes to the hardships of life, and the realization that poverty, sickness, illiteracy, and disease all exist around the world as well as here at home."
After the tribute video, Adams, who started his eponymously titled foundation in 2006 after decades of charity work, took the stage.
"I just want to say a couple things here," said Adams, "and that is, giving back is not something that's exclusive to people who have become successful. Working as I have with my foundation I've met hundreds of people who dedicate their lives to improving the lives of others, and ask for nothing in return. It's those selfless, unrecognized people, that get little or no thanks, and I get an award such as this."
He thanked the radio programmers and deejays in the room who gave his songs "a chance to be heard," including ones the Slaight family owned, and then explained, "I'll never be able to compare my little foundation to the likes of any of the other great family foundations, so why bother? Why bother connecting with people all over the world on such a small scale? And it's because I discovered early on that, and I'm reminded as I watched that film [tribute video] about it, that lending my name to a cause, no matter how small, can sometimes become something much larger."
eOne's Throop, president and CEO of the global independent entertainment content owner and distributor, received accolades from Gene Simmons, former EMI president Deane Cameron, Koch Entertainment founder Michael Koch, lawyer and film producer Stephen Stohn, and a range of eOne colleagues, in the tribute video CMW put together. When he received his award, he said, "Growing up, I wasn't really sure what I was going to do with my career or what it would be, but I always knew that I wanted to build something. Music was my first brick and it continues to be the foundation."
Corus CEO Cassaday (whose tribute video included props from Oprah Winfrey; OWN Canada is a Corus asset), delivered one of the sagest pieces of advice in his acceptance speech. "Tonight, there are a number of us in this industry who will become celebrities of a sort, be recognized for our accomplishments. Henry Kissinger once said, 'The nice thing about being a celebrity is that if you bore people, they will think it's their fault.' So, to my fellow honourees, think of your induction tonight as the equivalent of a hall pass where you're no longer required to be witty, erudite or even sober."
Cowboy Junkies -- the sibling dominated band which emerged in 1986 and has sold 4 million albums over 17 studio albums, seven live albums and three DVDS -- accepted their award after a performance that included their famed cover of "Sweet Jane." Singer Margo Timmons handled the speech duties, as her two brothers, guitarist Michael and drummer Peter; bassist Alan Anton; and two kids stood behind her.
"The one last thing," she said after a thorough thank you list, "before there were contracts, before there were managers, before there were tour busses, before there was an industry, before there was anything, there was just the four of us. And we hung out in our band house and one day a lawyer called. We thought it was hilarious that he called because we had no money and we had no contracts, so we figured, 'what would he want with us?' so we just blew him off.
"And about a week later the lawyer called back and my brother, Mike, spoke to him and decided he'd go meet this lawyer guy. And after that meeting, our lives were never the same. Everything changed. So Graham," she said, to some chuckles and claps (the two are married and he is now president of Music Canada), "the boys and I want to thank you for making that first call but more importantly we want to thank you for being so brave and determined and bold in making that second call to the band house…And for doing what you have done for us. I don't know where our career would be if you hadn't made that phone call, so thank you."
Capping the night was the zinger-filled induction of Kane by his friend, Live Nation Europe president John Reid, who spent three years in Canada as head of PolyGram. "Someone called Steve Kane the first-ever punk rock president of a major label and I think it holds," he said. "He certainly was and still is to this day. For Steve, 'the weekend begins here means a temporary hiatus in his day-to-day battle of protecting artists' rights, managing relationships with such great characters as diverse as Ray Danniels and Bruce Allen -- and trust me, that's a tough one; delivering Warner Music a result every quarter; keeping Randy Lennox, Graham Henderson, Shane Carter apart, all against a backdrop of the biggest and fastest change in the consumption of music, certainly in history.
"'The weekend begins here…' for Steve begins a retreat, an escape to Debbie and the kids, and then onto the basement where he keeps his scotch whiskey collection, jukebox and 15,000-plus records. For those of you who still wonder who buys physical records, he spends every Saturday on a pre-planned route. He goes to every record store in the city just to buy, comes home with a dozen pieces of music every week. He washes vinyl, God knows why. He's a proper nut."
"His musical genius is impeccable and from experience, I can tell you that he never ever allows commerce or business sense to get in the way of his view of what a hit record should be," Reid said to laughter, whistles and claps.
He got a few more good ones in -- noting all the labels Kane has worked at except, "I guess Sony never wanted him but it's good news for Warners" -- before a video that included props from
Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson, Corey Hart, Blue Rodeo's Jim Cuddy, Billy Talent, The Feldman Agency's Jeff Craib, Bruce Allen, The Agency Group's Jack Ross, Deane Cameron, Doug Chappelle, Paul Orescan, k.d. lang, Michael Buble and Carole McDonald. Then Kane came up to accept the award.
"There has clearly been an enormous mix up," he said. "I only got into this business for free records and beer tickets. I didn't think it was going to be a career and I certainly didn't expect to be standing here in front of a roomful of people that I have such huge respect for, receiving this very special honour -- all for something that I truly truly love. So thanks to Neill Dixon, CMW, the kind folks who thought me worthy of this award…"
Among the winners of the basic 2015 Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards announced in a fast-moving voiceover earlier in the evening were Universal Music Canada for Major Label of the Year; Dine Alone Records for Canadian Independent Label; eOne Music Canada for Independent Distributor; Vancouver's Bruce Allen Talent for Management Company; Live Nation Entertainment for Promoter, The Agency Group for Booking Agency; Universal Music Publishing for Music Publisher.
Niagara Fallsview Casino for Casino/Specialty Venue and Vancouver's Commodore Ballroom and Toronto's Danforth Music Hall tied for Club Venue. Bowmanville, Ont.'s Boots & Hearts Music Festival was named Festival Of The Year; Toronto's Air Canada Centre took home Major Facility (Over 8,000 Capacity) and Major Facility (Under 8,000 Capacity) went to Kingston's K-Rock Centre. Toronto's Massey Hall won Performing Arts Centre (Over 1,500 Capacity) and Vancouver's Vogue Theatre was awarded Performing Arts Centre (Under 1,500 Capacity).
Vancouver's Zulu Records won Independent Record Store Of The Year; HMV Canada was awarded Mass Merchant/Retail Chain of the Year; iTunes took home Digital Music Retail Service and Spotify nabbed best Digital Music Streaming Service; Alan Cross was named Blogger of the Year; and the Greater Toronto Area's Metalworks is Recording Studio of the Year.
The complete list of 2015 Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Award Winners, including all the radio categories, click here.