FYI Music News publisher and lifelong music journalist David Farrell, a one-time Canadian editor of Billboard and founder of the now defunct Canadian music trade paper The Record which begat Canadian Music Week, will be inducted into the Canadian Music & Broadcast Industry Hall of Fame in 2018.
The ceremony will be part of the Canadian Music and Broadcast Industry Awards Gala Dinner at Toronto’s Rebel Nightclub May 10, as part of Canadian Music Week.
“David and I go way back before the beginnings of Canadian Music Week where we built the foundation of what was to become Canada’s largest and longest running new music festival and conference,” said CMW president Neill Dixon in a statement. “David has always had a strong voice in the music industry, especially when it comes to delivering to the latest and most important news. I am very excited and honored that David is being inducted into the 2018 Canadian Music Industry Awards Hall of Fame at CMW, the event that he helped start.”
“Being honored by my peers in this way is beyond anything I could or would have asked for, and I’m grateful for those who have appreciated what I have done,” said Farrell. “It’s wonderful to be rewarded with an acknowledgment that my crazy life has, after all, meant something to the community that I’ve tried — for all these years — to serve in a meaningful, consistent way.”
Born in British Columbia, Farrell’s family moved to the U.K., and then back to Toronto in 1967. The son of British-born journalists Ann and Ted Farrell — and the grandson of Robert Henry Underwood Bloor, the co-author of the British Empire Illustrated Dictionary of English Language — he had journalism in his blood.
His early career as a music scribe included writing a weekly faxed package of Canadian music news to the Selkirk, Moffat and CHUM radio chains across Canada. In the mid-‘70s, he became editor-in-chief — for $95 a week — of Record Week, an early Canadian music trade journal, which led to gigs writing for U.S. trade Cashbox, and later as Canadian editor of Billboard.
In the spring of 1981, he and his then-wife started The Record, a weekly print pub that covered the music biz, growing over 18 years from a stapled tip sheet to a glossy magazine that often ran to 100-plus pages. It also inaugurated an annual music convention that today is known as Canadian Music Week, the largest of its kind in Canada. Farrell sold the rights to CMW to Dixon in 2001. Farrell also folded The Record at that time, hemorrhaging money and no longer getting the same advertising support during the burgeoning and uncertain digital era.
“Hammered by rising costs, file sharing, the lack of a paid online subscription base, a shrinking record industr and the arrival of SoundScan and BDS in Canada, The Record finally gave up the battle,” it states in the press release. “Hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, the Farrells paid all their bills, and David left for the Maritimes to lick his wounds and try his hand at other things — a micro-brewery, writing a novel, running as a Green Party candidate.”
At the start of the Millennium, Farrell was back in Ontario and persuaded by indie music promoter Joe Wood to put together a new industry source for the Canadian music business. Cliff Hunt, then COO of music tech company Yangaroo, offered seed money to help Farrell launch FYI (Farrell Yangaroo Inc.), a music industry news website and subscriber-based newsletter.
Gary Slaight of Slaight Communications then stepped in to become the principal backer, “an endorsement from which he has never wavered, even when the two of them butt heads like 20-year-olds arguing over the same girl,” it humorously states in the release.
“I have been given the freedom to write about what I think is important and express my views without interference, and in any age this is remarkable,” Farrell says. “Gary is neither a writer nor a publisher — but he has been a godsend. For the better part of my life, I’ve been a journalist who has taken the task seriously. Sometimes it means taking on powerful forces; sometimes it affords me the opportunity to say what needs to be said, or say what I want to say.”
“Sometimes I annoy, cajole, push; but without a shadow of a doubt, I say — without any hesitation – that the writing process has never been haphazard, thoughtless or intentionally flammable. Words to me are like precious gold and the thought that goes into what I write has always been measured by fact and reason.”