After 15 years and a business that in 2012 enjoyed $20 million in revenues, multi-faceted MapleMusic has entered a new phase of evolution. At a lavish bash held at Toronto’s Velvet Underground on March 1, 2016, MapleMusic was re-christened the Cadence Music Group and a promising future was set in motion.
“It’s a re-focus,” says Iain Taylor, Cadence Music Group President and CEO, a few days later at his office, adjacent to Universal Music Canada headquarters. “We call it a re-invention of our legacy – that’s what the party was, but we’re proud of the fact that [we’ve had] 15 years of success. It’s something to be celebrated.”
Taylor also said the re-branding is a rallying cry to announce to the world “that we’re going to be doing business on a global scale, in the most effective way possible, for our artists.”
“It’s about getting with artists and helping them.” – Cadence Music President and CEO Iain Taylor
Moving forward, the new umbrella includes Cadence Music (their domestic roster includes Vancouver’s The Pack A.D. and Toronto-based Ferraro, Megan Bonnell and Royal Wood); Open Road Recordings (Dean Brody, Tim Hicks, The Road Hammers, Doc Walker, more); Pheromone Recordings (Joel Plaskett, The Dears, Steph Cameron, Alejandra Ribera, more); label distribution company Fontana North (Justin Time, Shout! Factory, Downtown, more); Cadence Management (Royal Tusk, Zaki Ibrahim, Poor Young Things, more); music publishing company Cadence Songs; and fan engagement company Fan Experience (Sarah McLachlan, Hedley, Frank Turner, Classified).
No longer part of the Cadence fold: online ticketing agency TicketBreak, sold for an undisclosed amount in January to San Francisco-based Ticketfly. “It just became harder to compete in that space while competing in the music space,” says Taylor, who assumed his position in April of 2015. “We looked at our core competencies and what we really wanted to do both for our artists and our customers.
“To be competitive in this world, you have to look at the music from all angles. That’s not just the recorded masters and their exploitation, but also how you’re going to get involved with artists on the publishing side, the management side and in the V.I.P. engagement business: things we do really well. It became an exercise of getting back to what we were really good at.”
Taylor said the re-branding of the business – which was co-founded in 1999 by the Skydiggers’ Andy Maize and his brother Jeff, and IT entrepreneurs Mike Alkier, Evan Hu and Grant Dexter, as an e-commerce site, on an initial $60,000 investment (according to a 2012 Globe & Mail interview with Dexter) – was necessary.
“When I first got here, there were a number of suggestions internally that [a name change] might be a good idea,” Taylor said. “Talking to stakeholders of the business, it became fairly clear, fairly quickly, that the perception of MapleMusic was a name that was so Canadian. Internationally, there was a concept of, ‘if you were to present yourself a little more as an international entity, it might be advantageous.’”
Cadence Music has already bolstered its imprint label with several international signings – former Evanescence frontwoman Amy Lee, Escondido and Victoria+Jean. Not to mention Alabama Shakes, who the Cadence Music label supported all the way to a Canadian gold record (their first and only one so far), for their four-time Grammy-winning album Sound & Color.
Taylor reveals that many more signings will be unveiled in the not-too-distant-future. “We’ve got over a dozen new ones in the last three months,” he says. “We’ve also brought on eight labels in the last little while. We’ve got a couple of bigger ones, in the sense of announcements, to come as well.”
As far as music publishing is concerned, Taylor admits that Cadence Songs is still a work in progress. “That’s the one piece of the puzzle that’s still in the formative stage,” he says. “We control a number of works and we certainly are interested. When we get into management or signing acts, we’re seeking the publishing as well. There are a number of ways we can approach it – we certainly have partners globally and domestically that work on our behalf, but we haven’t finalized how we’re proceeding. We’re definitely getting more active in that space.”
With a newly unified office and staff of 25, over 100 distributed labels, and the unwavering support of such stakeholders as Universal Music Canada and Slaight Music – as well as a distribution partner in Canada in Universal, and for both the U.S. and the rest of the world in San Francisco’s INgrooves –Taylor says his company is open for worldwide business.
“It’s about getting with artists and helping them,” he says. “Artists are much more business-minded than ever. So for us, it’s about engaging and becoming business partners, and being able to execute effectively on their behalf, and help them sustain and flourish.”