Chad Richardson never doubted that his life would be in music. “I always knew that if I got a job doing something else, I would wither away,” he says with a laugh.
Still, it was cooking – not music – that lured Richardson, SOCAN’s new General Manager, Los Angeles Division (and lifetime SOCAN member), away from his hometown in Newfoundland after he graduated from high school. “I left because of my B-plan,” he admits, describing a two-year stint at chef school in Paris that left him just enough spare time to begin writing songs. “By the time I was done in France, I knew music was what I had to do.”
“My two favourite things in the world are songwriters and Canadians!”
Richardson headed home to Canada, where he briefly studied music in Montreal. He began singing in karaoke competitions to support himself, once winning $2,000 worth of oversized tires (which ended up as furniture in his apartment). Soon Richardson cut his first demo tape. Misunderstanding a form rejection letter from a major label, he then moved to Toronto, convinced he was about to break big. “I interpreted the letter as ‘I will give you a record deal,’” Richardson laughs.
In Toronto, Richardson actually did begin to have his breaks. After releasing his first album independently, he won the Q107 Homegrown contest, which provided the funding for album number two. When he signed a record deal with Aquarius/EMI, this album, The Legends Of Brud, came out. During the making of Brud, Richardson spontaneously auditioned for the Canadian production of the Broadway hit Rent. “My bass player dared me to do it,” says Richardson, admitting he’d never acted before and was unfamiliar with the show. “15,000 people auditioned and I got the lead.”
Richardson was transferred to New York to spend several years starring in the Broadway production of Rent, but he knew it was music, not acting, that still had his heart. He moved to Los Angeles to focus on writing and producing music, as well as managing other songwriters under his company Arrive At Eleven Productions. A gig with independent music publisher ole followed, during which Richardson played an instrumental role in signing such high-profile artists as Steven Tyler and Timbaland.
He also re-vamped a series of international songwriting camps, making it easier to scout and support new talent, and resulting in more camp-crated songs being recorded by high-profile artists. Some of those camps actually changed songwriters’ lives. For example, a friend told Richardson about Edmonton-based soul-roots artist Scotty Hills; after Richardson checked out his music, he invited Hills to try his hand writing for Rihanna at a camp in Los Angeles. “I felt he honestly believed in what I was doing and wanted to see me succeed,” says Hills. “I thought, ‘Here’s a guy who’s passionate about music and willing to take chances.’”
Richardson is excited about embarking on this next phase of his career – particularly the chance to seek out opportunities for Canadian songwriters while helping them do their best work.
“When SOCAN called and said, ‘You’ll go from supporting your own roster to helping all Canadian songwriters,’ that was it for me,” he recalls. “My two favourite things in the world are songwriters and Canadians!”–