It’s been just over two years since music industry veterans Michael McCarty and Rodney Murphy (both formerly SOCAN executives) founded Toronto-based Kilometre Music Group (KMG), a music creation and rights management company backed by Barometer Capital Management’s Barometer Global Music Royalty Fund. Their initial idea was to “re-patriate” Canadian music copyrights, but beyond buying revenue-generating song catalogues, KMG is also signing new songwriters.

“The investors are very happy,” says Kilometre Music Group CEO McCarty. “Some of them told us that we were their best investment in 2022, because of what happened in the marketplace and the economy. Music royalties are one of the most stable investments in turbulent economic times.”

Murphy serves as KMG’s President of A&R Acquisitions, and Melissa Cameron-Passley (also formerly of  SOCAN), Director of Creative Operations, and both of them handle the day-to-day sourcing and relationships with writers. The company now has 10 catalogues, which is “about halfway to two-thirds of the way to our full portfolio,” says McCarty. And just under a year ago, KMG launched the new signing phase of the plan.

“The overriding message we want to send to the world is, we’re a real music publisher,” says McCarty. “We’re not just a catalogue acquisition company. We’re now building our roster. We always planned to have a combination of iconic catalogues, and what we call ‘future’ catalogues – which is writers making [those] of the future – and that’s been going great. We’ve got seven writers signed now, and we’ll have a couple more fairly soon, so we’re where we wanted to be.”

In September of 2022, they fortuitously found their dream office: a three-story Victorian house, opposite the Art Gallery of Ontario in downtown Toronto, already equipped with five state-of-the-art recording studios, each with its own control room and vocal booth. (They added two makeshift studios in the basement, for a total of seven.) The 8,500-square foot space also has a small kitchen, four bathrooms, a shower, three lounges, and private parking for 10 cars. That’s quite a score for downtown Toronto. They call it Kilometre House.

“It doesn’t ramp up till middle of the day, because it tends to be on artist hours, as opposed to banker’s hours,” says McCarty. “But once it gets humming, it’s usually going full-tilt, all seven rooms.

“The vision was that we wanted to have a place, almost like a creative collision center, where there would be people meeting and bumping into each other, and ending up collaborating, that probably never would’ve otherwise” he continues. “And so far, that’s working out really well. We’ve literally had an artist who’s making a record in the studio hear something coming out of the control room that they love; they go talk to the writer; next thing you know, they’re working together. Next thing, our writers are on that person’s record.”

KMG’s seven signings are

  • Aaron Paris (whose credits include work with Kanye West, Drake, and DJ Khalid);
  • Chris LaRocca (Bryson Tiller, Stray Kids, and LU KALA);
  • Eli Brown (Drake, Chris Brown, and Jaden Smith);
  • harper (Vince Spales, Sevyn Streeter, and TOBi);
  • Mido (Don Tolliver and Skaiwater);
  • Prince85 (The Weeknd, Lil Wayne, and 21 Savage); and
  • Runway (DZL, Charmaine, Sylo).

Kilometre Killas
The four biggest current stories associated with Kilometre’s roster, they say, are harper’s Waiting Room EP, which came out in late March of 2023 on Cult Nation; Chris LaRocca’s Perhaps EP, just out on Red Bull/Wonderchild; Aaron Paris, executive producer and co-writer for Atlanta-based rapper Russ’s upcoming project; and Prince85’s “Die For You,” which went to No 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in the first quarter of 2023, making it “probably the number one resurgence story of a song in many, many years,” says McCarty. “It’s a six-year-old song and went viral on TikTok, which pushed it back into the Hot 100. The Weeknd released a new remix with Ariana Grande, which pushed it to No. 1. It was No. 1 at radio, No. 2 in the world for awhile, and it also dragged the album back into the charts, too. And we have, like, 12 cuts on that album.”

But in keeping with their mindset of fostering talent, the majority of the people working out of Kilometre House aren’t signed to KMG.

“It’s intended to be like a Times Square or Dundas Square of music creators, and we’re creating the culture here,” says McCarty. “Our goal is that this will become the epicenter of music creation in Canada that reaches the world market. And so, the next wave of globally successful music that comes out of Canada, we want to come through Kilometre House. And we’re convinced it will, and we’re convinced our writers will be a big part of it.”

Six of the seven signings are Canadian. But curiously, for a company which originally set out to “re-patriate, reclaim, re-assemble the rights of the great Canadian songs,” one of the signings is from Paris, France: Prince85, a writer on The Weeknd’s chart-recurring smash, “Die For You.”

“Our mission is to create a music publishing super-cluster in our area that harnesses the past and current creative power of Canadian artists, which helps take it to the world market and brings the revenue back into Canada, which creates a virtuous circle,” McCarty explains. “So the Canadian component is central to what we do, but we’re not stupid: we want to be the world center of catalogues and current music talent.  We’ve got several catalogues that aren’t Canadian, and now we’ve got one writer who’s not Canadian. It helps build the entire company.”




In a short time, Ottawa-born, Winnipeg-resident Leith Ross (they/them pronouns) has gone from obscurity to internet sensation, thanks to their viral TikTok singles “Orlando,” and especially, “We’ll Never Have Sex.” The latter song amassed more than 37 million Spotify streams, over a million video views, and inspired countless covers/TikTok videos from ardent fans.

In 2022 alone, Ross performed sold-out headlining shows across North America and supporting slots on tour with Lord Huron, Andy Shauf, and Helena Deland in Europe. They received the inaugural John Prine Songwriter Fellowship at the Newport Folk Festival; were dubbed Gen Z’s new favourite songwriter by NME; and signed a global deal with Interscope/Republic Records. Ross’s success has been shockingly swift – much like their songwriting process.

“I never write songs over a period of time, really,” says Ross. “I’ll have a feeling about something, and then I’ll get the feeling that I could write a song about it. Then the songwriting process will be the only thing that I can think about, or do, for, like, an hour or two. It’s very intense and overwhelming, and then it’s over.”

By contrast, the recording process for Ross’s 2023 debut album To Learn was intentionally slow, with Ross being given the space and emotional safety required to capture their sensitive, authentic music. They recorded with Joey Landreth (of Bros. Landreth), whose musicianship Ross has long admired. Their close and collaborative friendship, and the recording studio’s proximity to Ross’s home, allowed for a “chill” and  “spontaneous” process.

“It’s really nice when you’re recording very vulnerable music,” says Ross, “to have the time to sit with it, and take your time making decisions. Sometimes, if I was coming up with a pretty vulnerable song… instead of recording for half the day, we would just be crying, and talking, and working through it, for which I’m so grateful. It really changed the way I felt about recording music.”

Leith Ross, Video, We'll Never Have Sex

Click on the image to play the Leith Ross video “We’ll Never Have Sex”

That vulnerability is the hallmark of several of their songs, including “We’ll Never Have Sex” – which has struck a chord among an audience that identifies with Ross’ deeply personal, yet universal lyrics. They give voice to complex feelings about romantic relationships and sexual intimacy. For fans, the song speaks (among other interpretations) to the queer experience, asexuality, and the desire to enjoy another person’s company without the expectation of having sex.

“When I wrote it,” says Ross, “I really was feeling so isolated by the feelings that I was having. I felt like the people that I talked to didn’t really know what I meant.” To see how strongly – and differently – the song has resonated with listeners has been surprising to the artist, and “insanely therapeutic.” Ross says, “Everyone is just experiencing their own humanity, but I’m lucky enough to be able to facilitate a part of that expression.”

The official video for “We’ll Never Have Sex,” which Ross directed, produced, and starred in, features Ross and their real-life friend Fontine, playfully dancing in circles while wearing drawn-on moustaches. The splendid scene evokes images of innocence, and the slow swirl of being on a merry-go-round. Ross attributes the magic of the video to the communal efforts of their friends, who participated in the shoot. Friendship and community are vitally important to Ross, but in contrast to the speed of their success, finding safety in that kith and kin has come far more slowly.

For those of Ross’s fans whose vulnerabilities aren’t yet cushioned by an accepting community, they acknowledge that it can be a long process – one that requires “trial and error, purpose and intention.” For anyone feeling isolated, Ross offers these words of advice: “Be patient and kind. If you’re kind, and you make a real effort to support the community that you want to be a part of, then it’ll work out.” After a reflective pause, they add that it’s important to allow everybody their own humanity, while also maintaining one’s own boundaries.

Such wisdom has been hard-earned, through Ross’s lived experience. It’s as if they’re speaking softly from their soul to themself, while also facilitating the humanity and healing in others. Which is how their sad songs, to which everyone can relate, can land hope in the hearts of those willing to receive the message.

On May 7, 2023, Jean-Pierre Ferland will receive the Cultural Impact award at the Gala SOCAN, at La Tohu, in Montréal, for his song “Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin.” We invite you to take a look behind the scenes of the creation of this iconic song for a whole generation of Quebecers.

Bell Centre, May 9, 2003. Two-thirds of the way through a Ginette Reno concert, Jean-Pierre Ferland steps on stage to duet with the evening’s star on “Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin” (“A little higher, a little further”). The concert was part of a series that celebrated Reno’s decades-spanning (‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s) career and hits, and Ferland’s appearance took on the air of a major event in and of itself.

As I sat in seat 5, row M of section 123, I thought to myself that the surprise guest could also show up during the next night’s concert, where her hits of the ‘70s would be performed. It is, after all, during that decade that the singer made Ferland’s classic song hers. But there was no chronological mistake, since the song was indeed written in the sixties.

The song, a true monument in the “Chanson Québécoise” catalog, has, it turns out, quite an uncommon story. It’s a song that was a hit twice, with two different titles, and many, many singers, and its very meaning has evolved with time.

“I wanted this song to be an anthem for hope. A song is the reflection of the songwriter’s mood.”

How does a homegrown hit come to be? Sometimes, they’re born on foreign soil. “It was composed and written in a small hotel room in Paris’ eighth arrondissement,” Ferland recalls.

Jean-Pierre FerlandBack in 1969, the singer-songwriter was signed with Barclay Records. “Un peu plus loin” was its original title. It would become the title song of the upcoming 1969 album, which also contained “Les femmes de 30 ans” and “Qu’êtes-vous devenues?

It would also be featured on the greatest hits compilation launched three years later – Les grands succès Barclay de Jean-Pierre Ferland – but it wasn’t released as a 45 rpm single, and was overshadowed by Ferland’s other hits at the time. “Je reviens chez nous,” the 45 launched in June of 1968, became a huge hit and his signature song. Then came the album Jaune, in December 1970, which firmly established Ferland’s output in the ‘70s.

The artist, however, has a different explanation for the the lack of initial success for “Un peu plus loin.”

“The song didn’t get to have much of a solo career,” he says. “When I first recorded it, it was with a large orchestra. But that didn’t work. When we started singing it in a more pop, and sometimes even rock, way – after re-recording it in 1972 – that’s when people started noticing it.”

In the meantime, it had also found its way onstage. Renée Claude, who’d been singing Ferland’s songs since 1962’s “Feuille de gui,” frequently sang “Un peu plus loin” during her shows. But the song’s true renaissance would come during the 1975 St. Jean-Baptiste Day (Quebec’s “National Holiday”) celebrations in Montreal.

On June 24th – which also happens to be Ferland’s birthday – of that year, he was the star of a free concert on Mount Royal that also featured Ginette Reno, Renée Claude, Emmanuelle, and many more.

“Ginette was just back from her foray in the U.S.,” remembers Ferland, who the previous year had recorded the duet “T’es mon amour, t’es ma maîtresse” with her. “She felt like her trip was somewhat of a failure. She’s the one who asked to sing “Un peu plus loin.” She thought it was ‘a good song for (her) comeback.’ I asked Renée Claude if she minded letting Ginette sing it. Renée was incredibly generous to agree and the rest, as they say, is history.”

The rest, in this case, is a mythical interpretation of “Un peu plus loin” by Ginette Reno in front of hundreds of thousands of people. That night’s rendition became epochal, and is still flabbergasting to this day.

That is also the exact moment where Ferland’s song took on a whole different meaning, where it transformed into something else in the collective mind. What was, at first, a song about broken love, became a whole people’s anthem for hope and emancipation in a tense political context.

“Contrary to popular belief, it was a song about breaking up,” confirms Ferland. “I’d just lived through a painful breakup and it was my own personal way of finding solace. But I also didn’t want it to be overly sad. I wanted it to feel like a hymn to hope. One story ends and you move on. A song is the reflection of the songwriter’s mood. Yet, a song can have several layers of meaning: revolutionary song, love song, dream song…”

Ironically, Ferland never thought “Un peu plus loin” would become a hit, but that was before he sang it alongside stellar signers such as Reno, Mireille Mathieu and Céline Dion.

“I never thought it could become a hit. No more than ‘Le petit roi,’ for that matter. But I knew all along, however, that ‘Je reviens chez nous’ would be a huge hit.”

Nowadays, the song is known as « Un peu plus haut, un peu plus loin. » It’s been inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Goes to show a song can, through time and popular recognition, not only become a major pop song but even change titles.