Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is home to many noteworthy SOCAN members, including award-winning fiddler Natalie MacMaster, country-folk music group The Rankin Family, Celtic/pop band The Barra McNeils, and Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Gordie Sampson. Nova Scotia is also home to SOCAN-licensed Ceilidh’s Pub – a neighborhood bar and eatery in Dartmouth, well-known for its Cape-Breton-style live entertainment and Gaelic folk music.

The East Coast business opened its doors in 2013, and has grown a loyal crew of musicians and songwriters that visit regularly to perform on both weekdays and weekends to a crowded house of Maritimers.

“I wanted to bring that traditional Maritime kitchen party atmosphere into the pub,” says owner Roseanne MacKinnon. “Music is a huge part of Ceilidh’s Pub. After all, the name ‘Ceilidh’ represents a gathering of friends and family enjoying music, dance, stories and fun.”

A variety of traditional music written and composed by Cape Bretoners can often be heard playing in the background. The pub also hosts weekly open mic nights with traditional live fiddle music on Fridays.

“Our pub is becoming the place to go within the community for great live music, and of course food,” says MacKinnon. “Being licensed by SOCAN allows us to be the place in the community where musicians and songwriters can showcase their talent and share their music.”

Another way Ceilidh’s is helping to nurture the East Coast musical community is by way of their monthly songwriting circles, where local and regional songwriters – most of whom are budding SOCAN members – gather to showcase their music and collaborate with one another.

MacKinnon adds: “Having great food and music creates longtime customers.”

He’s the mau5 that continues to roar.

And rule. If the maxim “he who has the most toys wins” needs a living example as proof, then EDM superstar deadmau5 – a.k.a. Niagara Falls, ON, native son Joel Zimmerman – is it.

Zimmerman’s recent relocation from a pricey downtown Toronto condo to a gargantuan, custom-sized mansion on an 118-acre rural farm, about 45 minutes from the city, is one such extravagance.

Presumably, “Maus Mansion” is also the location where Zimmerman intends to build a 45,000 sq. ft. recording studio for what he calls “real musicians.” Though this could be bluster, considering he’s also publicly expressed an interest in buying Marineland, an amusement park attraction in his hometown. 

deadmau5 is the first Canadian musician to headline and fill Toronto’s cavernous Rogers Centre.

Another sign of his immense success is his growing collection of six- and seven-figure-priced cars. His McLaren 650S (or are there two of them?), a BAC Mono, which deadmau5 told the BBC “is kind of like a street-legal Formula 3 car”; a McLaren P1; a Bentley Continental GT Supersports; a custom Jeep Rubicon; a Range Rover; a Honda Fit; and a signature model Ferrari that Zimmerman had transformed into a “Purrari,” which he drove in the transcontinental Gumball Rally race.

But bling accumulation is only one measure of deadmau5’s popularity. The 2012 Rolling Stone magazine cover boy is easily the most recognized figure in electronic dance music (EDM) history, both for his music – a multiple Beatport and JUNO Award-winning, Grammy-nominated mix of progressive house, techno, trance and repetitive beats – and for creating a memorable visual presence in a usually faceless genre.

Zimmerman performs in his electronically-illuminated mau5head, a piece of headgear that remotely resembles a blissed-out Mickey Mouse. When the folks at Disney noticed, they requested that the United States Patent and Trademark Office investigate its stature as a trademark.

Laced with LED lights that react to the music he’s performing live, this ingenious signature has enabled Zimmerman to bridge the gap between underground and mainstream recognition. He’s hip enough that EDM lovers hunger for his next release, and cool enough that a cameo in a mainstream TV series like Gossip Girl or CSI doesn’t damage his street cred.

He’s certainly not averse to courting mainstream attention. “It’s fun to play along,” Zimmerman told Resident Advisor in 2008. “And if playing along means it’s gonna get you exposure to a six-million-wide audience that might have, by chance, been blissfully ignorant to the music you make, or to electronic music in general and then, in turn, tune in two million new fans… who are going to support new acts and new talent…”

In fact, playing along has found deadmau5 transforming himself into a dancefloor superstar that reportedly no longer performs for less than $100,000 USD a night. The first Canadian musician to headline and fill Toronto’s cavernous Rogers Centre (capacity 54,000), he’s rocketed to the top of his game in an impressively short amount of time, as per the title of his current compilation, 5 Years of Mau5.

How did he do it?

In his Niagara Falls hometown, Zimmerman took piano lessons, but the tide turned when he first became immersed in computers. “My uncle, who was more or less the black sheep of the family, was into all things technical,” Zimmerman told Resident Advisor. “He did some university stuff with computer programs when they were only a little bit more powerful than a pocket calculator. He was always the guy that the family would call to fix the computer.”

Weaned on Skinny Puppy and Steely Dan, Zimmerman began to toy with gadgetry – pulling things apart, putting them back together, and absorbing it all like a sponge. “Clocks, appliances, all that shit. I had a whole graveyard under my bed,” he told Rolling Stone in 2012.

According to Toronto Life, Zimmerman’s grandmother introduced him to video games, and that magic combination of technology and music helped set him on his way. Deadmau5 music has since appeared in DJ Hero, the Grand Theft Auto series, FIFA 13, Need For Speed: Most Wanted and even The Sims 3.

As a teen, he dabbled in computers and digital music tools and started attending raves held in secret locations, a period of time that Zimmerman longs for nostalgically. “The only bad taste left in my mouth is that there’s no more grey area with electronic music anymore,” he told Resident Advisor. “You buy your ticket to the big ‘rave’ at SkyDome [Rogers Centre] through TicketMaster and Live Nation. Dude, I really miss the meet-up points at Union Station and going to some dodgy thing that will very likely get shut down by the cops.

To mark 20 years in print, our colleagues at Paroles & Musique sat down with three songwriters — Daniel Boucher, Stefie Shock and Dumas, each of whom released a new album last fall — ­to chew the fat on two decades of songwriting and profound changes. They talked about their trade and how they picture themselves in an all-digital future.

Daniel, you recently launched Toutte est temporaire, Stefie, yours is titled Avant l’aube, while Dumas’ latest is an eponymous release. What does releasing an album mean to you in 2014?

Stefie Shock: Releasing a record, I mean the actual physical object, nowadays, doesn’t mean much anymore, but the interest is not lost with regards to the actual work, just for the object. I don’t even buy records anymore…

Daniel Boucher: To tell the truth, I still release physical formats because my distributor told me that in Québec, CD sales still make up half of total sales. Initially, the project for Toutte est temporaire was to lock myself up in the studio and release a song a month.

“If you make good music, people will be interested in it; we need to stop saying it’s the fault of consumers who no longer buy CDs” – Dumas

Dumas, you anticipated this transformation of the market in 2009, when you released four EPs in rapid succession…

Dumas: There was indeed a certain desire to shake things up a little, especially when it came to financing; each EP paid for the next. I’m glad I tried it, but I was very surprised because despite the fact that the market was changing rapidly, it was still very hard to break the mold. I wanted to release EPs – which, by definition only have five or six songs on them rather than 10 – except the actual CD costs the same to produce and therefore to sell, which was disadvantageous for the fans. At least now, with digital, that’s no longer an issue.

Daniel: As artists, we sometimes like for things to go faster, to be more adventurous, but part of our job is to understand that it’s not always possible…

Dumas: As we all know, the web has changed everything over the last 15 years. I remember when I started and we’d ask the record label for some help in building a website. No one had a clue what we were talking about and what purpose it would serve! On the other hand, the cost of production for an album hasn’t really gone down. Of course, technology has made a lot of things much simpler, but I can’t pay my collaborators less than I did fifteen years ago. In the meantime, we keep arguing about the value of music and the revenues have all but disappeared…

Daniel: Personally, I can’t resolve myself to give my album away. Why should I? To let people try it out? So, in that case, I’ll have something to eat from the restaurant we’re sitting in, but I won’t pay. If I like it, I’ll come back. The only difference here is that you can’t e-mail a meal. That has a big impact on songwriters and musicians. I get the impression making music is no longer considered a real job. I’m glad for the artists who give away their music and become successful, but to me, that’s like giving up part of your income, like separating the two sides of our trade – stage and studio – and saying that one should become voluntary work?

Stefie: There are very good examples of artists from abroad that make it big while giving away their music. Good for them. But it goes without saying that their reputations and audiences are global. In Québec, it’s hard to get a big enough buzz to go on the road for a 200-concerts tour that you can earn a living from.

Dumas: Back then, labels could take risks on an album and recoup their cost from sales, but let’s be frank: nowadays, most of us barely recoup production and marketing costs from sales and hope to make money from licencing and publishing. Those are the real stakes in 2014. From this perspective, a record is no longer more than a business card to get concert and festival bookings.

Daniel: I just hope that, at some point, we’ll figure out how to compensate for that loss of revenue. It seems to me all we need is a way to get back some of the money that’s on the Web – maybe through a higher royalty destined to artists, a bit like what broadcasters pay to SOCAN?

Dumas: True, but I think it’s also an incredible opportunity for up-and-coming musicians. Back in the day, even if you were nominated for an ADISQ Award, if you didn’t play during the award show, nobody remembered your name the next day. Nowadays, if I hear about an artist I didn’t know about, I can immediately go on iTunes or Bandcamp to listen to and buy their music. This is an extraordinary time to discover tons of artists.

Daniel: That’s undeniable, but we need to make sure the work is compensated fairly…

Dumas: In then end, all a songwriter can do to survive is to write good songs that connect with the public. If you make good music, people will be interested in it; we need to stop saying it’s the fault of consumers who no longer buy CDs.