When it comes to serving AUX TV’s stated mandate of supporting Canadian independent artists, GlassBOX Founder and President Jeffrey Elliot doesn’t mince words: “Every pro athlete, mega-rock sta, and superstar comedian was once an amateur. To me, there’s nothing better than seeing somebody that isn’t recognized, who’s really talented, and asking, ‘How can we help them?’”

While supporting under-recognized Canadian talent offers AUX an undeniable market opportunity, it also enables the station to act as a leading tastemaker for audiences increasingly hungry for music created by emerging artists. AUX also serves as a unique catalyst to help uncover and raise the profile of artists who are typically under-represented by other music specialty channels.

Launched by GlassBOX as a website in 2008, and then as a specialty channel in October 2009, the station’s focus on promoting independent Canadian artists remains a huge part of their mandate both online and on the air. In terms of video flow alone, Elliott estimates that 85 to 90 percent of programming is Canadian, typically chosen by an in-house music committee led by AUX Music Director, Jeff Rogers.

“The mandate really is to support Canadian artists.” – GlassBOX President Jeffrey Elliot

“And if we have a Canadian band and an American band that are neck and neck, we’ll pick the Canadian band,” says Elliot. “The mandate really is to support Canadian artists and we do tend to wave the Canadian flag quite a bit around here.”

Although the station’s appeal to increase the amount of videos broadcast during daytime hours was recently denied by the CRTC, Elliott is confident they can expand the exposure AUX offers emerging artists by being creative in developing new content.

They already do so with a broad range of programming that includes shows that tread the line between documentary and performance, such as Camera Music, and more instructional offerings like Master Tracks, which provides viewers with an intimate look at the process of taking a song “from demo to download in one day.”

AUX TV marked its second anniversary in October, and the new SOCAN licensee is attempting to serve its mandate even more effectively by engaging viewers interested in well-established acts; by broadcasting more documentaries featuring familiar artists; and by “theming” their monthly programming under headings such as “Dearly Departed” and “Red Carpet.”

In addition, they’ll be leading those viewers to new talent via a new series of segments entitled Connections. Voiced by iconic Canadian radio personality Alan Cross, the segments will explore how the musical legends of the past – many of whom were initially ignored by the mainstream themselves – inform the work of present-day musical pioneers.

This year, Canadian classical composers have cause to celebrate: the Canadian League of Composers (CLC) has turned 60, and is still going strong.

Members of “the League” (as it’s commonly called) feel they’ve come a long way since the CLC was created. In May, at a balloon-festooned reception at the Canadian Music Centre in Toronto, the mood was festive and upbeat.

“When the CLC first started out,” explains composer Victor Davies, “performances of Canadian works were very few. But today, performance opportunities are manifold. Orchestras are playing Canadian music, and we have many contemporary-music groups across the country. Operas, string quartets, concert bands – today there are lots of opportunities for Canadian composers.”

Back in 1951, the League was a small, exclusive club, with just 20 members. But Canada in the early 1950s was full of can-do optimism and national pride: anything seemed possible.

Today, the CLC has grown substantially. “The current membership is around 350,” says the CLC’s former president, Toronto composer James Rolfe, with quiet pride. “Within the last five years we’ve grown by about 100. We’re trying to be more active and reach out to those who haven’t joined. Anyone who’s active as a composer, full time or part time, is welcome.”

Helping this recent boost in membership has been ongoing funding from the SOCAN Foundation, which has supported the League’s operating expenses for the last decade.

It might come as a surprise that there are so many classical composers in Canada. Most are trained in universities or conservatories, and they usually write concert music – although opera is a growing interest.

On the other hand, most League members aren’t getting rich from what they do. According to Rolfe, the number of CLC composers who earn a living from writing music “is probably 20 or less – maybe closer to a dozen.”

Nevertheless, the League stands behind the principle that composers should be paid and has established commissioning rates. If you hire a CLC composer to write a 10-minute string quartet, it will cost $4,350; a 20-minute orchestral work will run you $14,300.

The League’s newly elected president, Jennifer Butler, is a Vancouver-based composer who’s supplemented her income over the years as a flute teacher. At 35, she just finished a doctorate in music at the University of British Columbia and is one of the younger members of the CLC.

“About four years ago,” she recalls, “the League held a career development workshop in Vancouver on grant writing, so it made sense at the time for me to join. We [classical music] composers don’t have anyone representing us but ourselves. The League fills a void.”

100 Dollars aren’t your average Canadian country band. Led by the striking vocals of singer Simone Schmidt, they’ve been captivating audiences since 2008 with their raw, honest songs and a beautiful medley of old and new country. “We grew up in the eighties and nineties listening to all kinds of music, from grunge to psychedelic rock, to hip-hop, to bluegrass, and even minimalism,” says Schmidt. “So it follows that the music we make combines a lot of influences that musicians like George Jones or even Dwight Yoakam never had.”

Their 2008 album Forest of Tears received glowing reviews in practically every major Canadian publication and earned them a nomination on the 2009 Polaris Prize long list. Their powerful, moving live shows seem to fit any bill, routinely seeing the band playing festivals and tours across Canada with artists as diverse as punks like Fucked Up or fellow country-rockers like The Sadies.

They released their second full-length album, Songs of Man, last May. Recorded with producer and pedal steel player Steve Crookes (Jill Barber, Hawksley Workman) it was a hit with critics and fans, getting the band longlisted again for the Polaris Prize in 2011. This winter the band finished a cross-Canada tour with Toronto roots-rockers, Elliot Brood. Expect a new album next year.