In the 10 years since Belly and Tony Sal, co-founders of CP Music Group, started the company in Ottawa – at a time when they admittedly knew very little about the record industry and music publishing – the duo have turned a shared fervor for Canadian urban music into a thriving business.
That success is a testament to the passion and teamwork of the four founding members: CEO Sal, Grammy-nominated rapper/songwriter Belly, President Manny Dion and Artist Manager Cash. “The ideology we had coming into this was not treating it like nine-to-five job,” says Belly. “This is our family. It’s our everything, so when other people slept, we were working. When their day ended, ours didn’t, and I think it gave us a real advantage.”
“This is our family. It’s our everything.” – Belly
Over time they’ve built an impressive roster of talent, including Massari, Mia Martina, Belly, and producers DaHeala (The Weeknd, Rick Ross, Snoop Dogg/Lion) and DannyBoyStyles (Nicki Minaj, Flo Rida, Wiz Khalifa). CP Music Group has made an impressive mark on Canadian radio (it’s the No. 1 Canadian indie label at Top 40 radio), and garnered multiple SOCAN No. 1 Song Awards and multiple MuchMusic Awards. Belly’s songwriting is a huge part of that success, Sal says, because of his work writing with CP’s roster, as well as with a wide range of international artists such as The Weeknd, Snoop Dogg/Lion, Wiz Khalifa and more.
Given Belly’s inroads into the international market, he and Sal are focusing on expanding that reach, recently inking a deal with Warner Chappell Music Publishing in America. “That’s our main focus, working with Jon Platt, President of Creative at Warner Chappell, focusing on the key ways to take what we’ve created to the next level,” Sal says.
As the industry has evolved over the past decade, there have been challenges, Sal admits. “The business is shrinking,” he says. “Everything is different, but when the industry changes, we evolve and we still stick with our passions – that’s what we depend on every day. As a publishing company we focus mostly on making the music and take it from there.”
“The changes taking place in the industry make it difficult to even understand what’s going to happen the next day, but we’re still here doing what we do,” Belly says, adding that their greatest strength is their friendship. “Success never kept nobody together. It’s friendship that’s kept us together, and if we have a problem we strap the gloves on, but then we shake hands afterwards and everybody’s good,” he adds, laughing.
When it comes down to it, having a shared a vision is the key. “Every decision Sal and I make, we make together,” Belly says. “The marriage between the creative and business world that we’ve built, that’s the best thing we have. Every day we know what the task at hand is and we complete it: mission accomplished, that’s what we go for every day.”