The annual Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Awards (MBIA) celebrated legends, inspirations, trailblazers and the best of the year on Thursday night (May 9) in Toronto as part of Canadian Music Week from May 6-12. Held at Rebel Entertainment Complex, the three-hour gala dinner for about 750 industry people announced 37 award winners on a screen with little fanfare, but the multiple lifetime honors were presented onstage in special segments.
This year, the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame inductees were Michael McCarty, chief membership and business development officer at performing rights organization SOCAN, once the long-time head of EMI Music Publishing Canada and Steve Herman, svp touring, North America at Live Nation, and former long-time booking agent. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to musician Robbie Robertson, formerly of the Band, and himself once a Geffen executive.
An emotional Herman didn’t mince words when he took the podium and said what many Hall of Fame inductees likely felt before him: “It’s really hard. Holy fuck. I’m going to try and read this fuckin’ speech, I’m sorry.” He recalled being a young boy dreaming of living a rock star life in the Hollywood Hills. “But soon after I realized I was a really bad guitar player. I started promoting -- but now I live in the Hollywood Hills,” he said to laughs and claps.
Herman praised his parents (his dad was in attendance) and grandparents for making him believe anything was possible, and went on to thank the people along the way who helped him in his career, including Gary Slaight, Bruce Allen, Randy Lennox, Ray Danniels; the late Joe Summers and Dan Gallagher, and particularly to his partner, Live Nation CEO and fellow Canadian Michael Rapino. “He has given me the opportunity just to lay out hundreds of millions of dollars to get the shit I want to do,” he said to more laughter.
“The most important thing is to thank the artist because they're the ones that gave me the opportunity and there's one artist -- and I don't know how it happened -- but it was Prince," he added. "And every day he was a real asshole. He inspired me and made me worked harder and I don't think I'd be here either if it wasn’t for him, so thank you Prince.”
McCarty, who was inducted by Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew, called CMW “a great entrepreneurial success story that brings us together as a community.”
He began his turn the mic by recalling all the great songs he heard on Toronto 1050 CHUM that inspired him to want to have this career, even though “none of them are Canadian.” But then came the Guess Who’s “These Eyes” and “No Time,” produced by Jack Richardson. “He showed that Canadians can have global success in the music business and inspired me to believe that I could do it too,” McCarty said of the late producer. “I figured he must know the secret to making a magic record, so I decided I was going to find him and learn the secret or die trying.” After attending Fanshaw College for recording arts, he got his start with Richardson.
McCarty name-checked two Canadian music trade reporters who changed the course of his career in music publishing: Nick Krewen and David Farrell of the long-defunct The Record. They once quoted him calling Michael Jackson “a ruthless mogul” because he was abandoning the Canadian writers side to ATV when he bought the Beatles catalogue. “That set off a crazy chain of events that led me to Marty Bandier [CEO/chairman of Sony/ATV], who taught me: ‘Stand up for what you believe in and good things will happen,’” he said.
That led to McCarty’s 17 years as president of EMI Music Publishing Canada, then a brief stint at ole (which he didn’t mention in his speech) and now SOCAN, where he's on the other side of aiding songwriters. “The secret to success in the music business is great songs. I was lucky enough to sign some great songwriters and their managers, agents, attorneys, labels and promoters made me look good,” he said shouting out some of those songwriters in the room: Gavin Brown, Three Days Grace’s Neil Sanderson, esthero, Billy Talent’s Ian D’Sa and Jon Gallant, Jelleestone, Mike Slute and Simon Wilcox.
Earlier in the evening, the Allan Slaight Humanitarian Spirit Award -- which came with a donation of $30,000 (CAD) by the Slaight Family Foundation -- was bestowed on the late Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. He died of brain cancer in 2017, but not before making a rallying cry to Canadians for reconcliation with our First Peoples by setting up the The Gord Downie & Chanie Wenjack Fund. He also supported numerous causes throughout his career from Lake Ontario Waterkeepers to War Child.
“This award will always be a very special, important piece for his legacy,” said Patrick Downie, who accepted the posthumous award for his brother. “He represented so much to so many people, his body of work and the impact he continues to make both as an artist and that activist speaks for itself, but nonetheless is always hard for me to try to encapsulate. In the context of this award, however, it's very easy to reference how deep Gord’s humanitarianism went. If you knew him, you could see it in his daily life, far away from the spotlight. It really was the core of who he was.
“I'm not sure if Gord ever considered himself a humanitarian or not,” he added. “With him, I think it was much more simple than that. Gord just wanted to be known as a guy who gave a shit -- his words. He admired the hell out of anyone who made that their living. And he knew, most importantly that it was his responsibility in life. And in death. And he treated it like one. It's a responsibility our family proudly carries on his name.”
On the radio side, the 2019 Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame inductees were Guy Brouillard of Montreal’s CKOI, Gerry Forbes of Calgary’s CJAY 92, and Brother Jake Edwards of Vancouver’s TSN 1040 for their lifetime careers in Canadian broadcasting. The Allan Waters Young Broadcaster of the Year Award, in memory of legendary radio programmer Steve Young, went Brad Karp from Country 93.3 FM in Fort McMurray, Alberta. There was also an In Memoriam and Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame induction for former CHOM couple Leslie Sole and Terri Michael, who were killed in a car accident in Mexico this past November. The Rosalie Award, named after radio trailblazer Rosalie Trombley to honor other successful women in radio who are viewed as leaders and mentors, was presented to Carmela Laurignano, vp and radio group manager at Evanov Radio Group (ERG).
The evening also featured performances by Indigenous Youth Hand Drum Group, Jonathon Butler, Logan Staats, 54:40, Lawrence Gowan, South Africa’s Jonathan Butler, and “The McCarty Band,” featuring esthero, producer/songwriter Gavin Brown, and members of Billy Talent and Three Days Grace.
The dozens of other awards were announced over the speakers, as the categories -- including the nominees -- flashed on screen, covering broadcasting, live touring, record, retail and other industry categories.
Winners included Bruce Allen Talent for management company, the Feldman Agency for booking agency, Live Nation for promoter of the year; Sunrise Records for major retailer; Universal Music Publishing for music publisher; Spotify for digital music streaming service; Universal Music Canada for major label; eOne Music for independent distributor; Arts and Crafts for independent label; and Toronto’s Dine Alone Store/Wax on Wheels for independent record store.
In the venue category, Toronto’s Sony Centre won for performing arts center (over 1500), Danforth Music Hall for performing arts center (under 1500), Toronto’s Budweiser Stage for major facility (over 8000), Regina’s Brandt Centre for major facility (under 8000), and Orillia, Ontario’s Casino Rama Resort for casino/specialty venue.
Joanne Setterington of Indoor Recess won for publicist of the year, the Toronto Star’s Ben Rayner for music journalist; Toronto’s Revolution Recording for recording studio; and there was a tie for music school of the year: London’s Fanshawe College and Mississauga’s Metalworks Institute, both in Ontario.
The winners of 2019 Broadcast Industry Awards were:
MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR MAJOR MARKET Lisa Grossi – CHUM FM – Toronto
MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR SECONDARY MARKET Barry Stewart – Hot Country 103.5/Jewel 105 – Halifax
MUSIC DIRECTOR OF THE YEAR SMALL MARKET Shilo Bellis – New Country 96.9 – Moncton
ON AIR TALENT OF THE YEAR MAJOR MARKET Garner Andrews – Sonic 102.9 – Edmonton
ON AIR TALENT SECONDARY MARKET Jeff & Rachel – 97.5 Virgin – London
PROGRAM DIRECTOR MAJOR MARKET Sarah Cummings – CHUM FM – Toronto
PROGRAM DIRECTOR SECONDARY MARKET Brad Gibb – FM96/Fresh – London Jim McCourtie – 89X/93.9 The River – Windsor
PROGRAM DIRECTOR SMALL MARKET Matt Cleveland – Capital FM 106.9 – Fredericton
PROMOTION OF YEAR Kiss Your Ashby Goodbye – CHUM FM – Toronto