Who said you have to get on a plane to experience the culture, food, and sounds of South America? If you’re a Vancouver resident and have an insatiable appetite for unique experiences, the city’s “Best Latin American Restaurant,” Baru Latino Restaurante, will be right up your alley.

Together with its award-winning food menu, music is at the top of Baru Latino’s ingredient list, providing an exceptional soundtrack for each customer experience. “Music creates the ambiance to complete the overall experience that we want to deliver to our customers,” says co-owner Rene Lafleur.

Satisfying appetites since 2009, the hip South American tapas-style restaurant is situated on Vancouver’s west side and owned by longtime Vancouver residents Lafleur and David Newis.

Using only sustainable and locally-grown ingredients, it only makes sense for Baru Latino to show the same commitment to Canada’s music community, by displaying SOCAN’s Licensed to Play sticker on their front door for each customer to see. “The sticker allows our customers to recognize our partnership with SOCAN and to understand that we use music responsibly,” says Lafleur.

“For too long, we’ve seen our music consumers and our creators as two separate entities,” says Jennifer Brown, SOCAN’s Vice President of Licensing. “Both need each other, and the Licensed to Play program – especially the window sticker – is a fun way to display that mutual admiration. By displaying the Licensed to Play sticker proudly, businesses affirm that they are putting music to work ethically and legally.”

Baru has a number of awards to boast about, including the annual Georgia Straight Golden Plate Award for “Best Latin American Restaurant,” which they earned in 2013. When asked if music is an essential aspect of Baru Latino’s customer experience, Lafleur says, “Absolutely!”

Next time you’re in Vancouver and in the mood for South American cuisine, coupled with the rhythmic sounds of Brazilian samba and bossa nova, be sure to drop by Baru Latino Restaurante.

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.

Inspiration and talent play a big part in any successful songwriting venture. But so, too, does luck, and being in the right place at the right time. Just ask Stephan Moccio.

The man who co-wrote “Wrecking Ball,” one of the biggest songs of 2013, might never have had a hand in composing the Miley Cyrus smash if he hadn’t kept an appointment in Los Angeles.

It was September 2012 and Moccio had been spending half of his time on the West Coast for work, leaving his wife and two young children behind in Toronto. Although he was extremely busy in L.A., he accepted an invitation to perform for the Canadian Olympic athletes in Toronto. Tempted though he was to stay at home with his wife and kids, and rest after the gig, Moccio flew straight back out West for a previously booked writing session.

“I didn’t know a thing about the other two writers [Sacha Skarbek and Maureen “MoZella” McDonald], but something told me I needed to go back and do it,” recalls Moccio, still amazed at how it all happened. “We met and there was great synergy in the room. MoZella had just cancelled her wedding and was very frail, but wanted to write about her experience. I’ll never forget the look on her face when I first played these chords on the piano. It was such an emotional moment and that melody, which I’d had hanging around, became the chorus. We knew as soon as we’d recorded the demo, with MoZella singing, that it was a special song.”

There were a number of ingredients that made the song special, Moccio continues. “It had the right tempo (60 beats per minute), the right key for a pop ballad (D minor), and the right message for a dark song about toxic love or a relationship gone bad,” he says. “We weren’t trying to write a hit, just the best possible song. We took the time to write a proper verse, pre-chorus and bridge, and to make it emotional and exciting.”

“We knew as soon as we’d recorded the demo that it was a special song.”

Luck came into the picture when MoZella, who knows Cyrus personally, was able to present “Wrecking Ball” to the singer. “Miley instantly fell in love with the song and recorded it a few weeks later with Dr. Luke and Henry Russell Walter, better known as Cirkut, producing. Miley’s vocal performance is staggering, I think. And my piano, which MoZella originally sang to, ended up being the final piano on Miley’s recording.”

“Wrecking Ball,” the second single from Cyrus’ Bangerz album, came out in late August 2013. By that time, Moccio and his wife had decided to move their family to L.A. and landed there a week later – just as news broke that the song was number one globally in digital downloads.

“It was quite an arrival,” he admits. “My friends at Universal Music Publishing said they couldn’t have dreamt up a better script for me.” A controversial video, featuring a nude Cyrus straddling a swinging wrecking ball, attracted 19.3 million views on YouTube in the first 24 hours of its release. That attention helped the song rocket to top the Billboard charts.

The singer’s even more controversial appearance on the MTV Video Awards, behaving in sexually provocative way with Robin Thicke, further boosted “Wrecking Ball” into the pop-music stratosphere. To date, the song has sold more than three million copies in the U.S. alone. At press time, its video had more than 511 million YouTube views. Twitter also extended the reach, as “Wrecking Ball” became the year’s most tweeted song.

Moccio’s life was caught in the song’s jetstream. “Things were suddenly moving at Mach10 speed,” he recalls. “The phone was off the hook crazy, so much so that I had to immediately change my number. I wasn’t doing anything differently. It was just that Miley’s recipe worked; she had brought our song to the world. Now a lot of other artists are looking at my catalogue and want a song by me. And everyone takes my publisher’s calls now.”

You might recognize Mike Campbell from his days on MuchMusic, hosting memorable shows like MuchEast and Going Coastal.  Now the owner of the historic Carleton Music Bar & Grill in Halifax, Campbell champions the East Coast music scene by supporting local talents and inviting them to play at his bar.

“As the name suggests, when we put The Carleton Music Bar & Grill together, we knew we were going to be about music,” says Campbell. “We have built a hard-earned reputation, in a city synonymous with music and musicians, as the best live venue in town – and we’re proud of that.”

Proud also to show their appreciation for Canada’s music creators, the Carleton is just one of 30,000 dedicated SOCAN licensed bars and restaurants across Canada to receive a window sticker as part of SOCAN’s Licensed to Play (L2P) campaign.

“Without music, we’d be just another joint on the street.”

“By displaying the Licensed to Play sticker proudly, businesses affirm that they are putting music to work ethically and legally,” says Jennifer Brown, SOCAN’s vice president of Licensing.  “They recognize that music adds value to the business and customer experience, and the sticker upholds support for those who create the music that they and their customers love.”

At the forefront of the Halifax music scene, the Carleton truly understands the importance that music plays in the overall success of their business. “We do live music, on average, five or six nights a week, and it is primarily responsible for whatever success we’ve achieved,” says Campbell. “We hire musicians and music lovers to our staff and they enthusiastically spread the word for us. Our customer base is one that wholeheartedly supports what we do and understands the importance of music in life.”

Among other things, the Carleton demonstrates their commitment to the music community by hosting various (SOCAN-licensed) events, including songwriting circles for the Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax Pop Explosion, and the popular Halifax Urban Folk Festival (HUFF).

“Without music, we’d be just another joint on the street — and we’re definitely not that!” says Campbell.

To learn more and become Licensed to Play, click here.