Editorial Avenue - Daniel Lafrance, winner of the Publisher of the Year Award at the Montréal SOCAN Gala 2017.

Editorial Avenue – Daniel Lafrance, winner of the Publisher of the Year Award at the Montréal SOCAN Gala 2017.

Daniel Lafrance’s is a forward thinker who seldom looks back. When ask to recount his career path, he’s a man of few words. What stimulates Lafrance clearly lies ahead. Making Éditorial Avenue ever more active, relevant and versatile has been his modus operandi since he founded the company in 2000.

Daniel Lafrance’s ties to the world of music go back to 1969, when he was a musician in a jazz combo, and many other things. Early on, Lafrance played such roles as album producer, venue booker, artist manager and music publisher, while also taking on distribution and promotion duties. “That’s how I learned the ropes,” he says. In 1976, while he’s a member of Solstice, Lafrance also produced Conventum, L’Orchestre Sympathique and Pierre Moreau. Although he played less and less, he kept himself busy being a Jack-of-all-trades for various artists, including Francine Raymond and UZEB.

But when UZEB split up in 1992, Lafrance opted to focus entirely to publishing. “I decided to go all-in and do what I like most,” he says. “When I look back now, I think I really had a visionary moment.” Lafrance left for France alongside Daniel DeShaime to develop a rights management software called Ze Publisher! which was bought by more than 50 European music publishers.

“Being a music publisher is being a developer, first and foremost”

Éditorial Avenue

When Rosaire Archambault and Michel Bélanger contacted him in the year 2000 to offer him the opportnity to run a new publishing company, Lafrance accepted the challenge posed by Éditorial Avenue, and moved back to Québec. From that point on, his man-wearing-many-hats career path served him more than well. “When you accompany an artist from the get-go, when they generally are without a manager, it’s quite useful to have a perspective on record contracts,” he says. “You’re in a better position to advise them and negotiate on their behalf, when necessary. In short, it gives you a wider scope on artist development. And being a music publisher is being a developer, first and foremost.”

Looking to head Éditorial Avenue, Lafrance came back to Québec with a desire to re-invent the music publishing model. He set up preference pacts, a way of doing things inspired by his stay in France. These contracts bind an artist and the rights to their songs over a period of time in exchange not only for advances, but also for musical instruments and other work tools.

“Obviously, you need to be financially solid to offer such contracts.,” says Lafrance. “But the objective is to support the artist and bring them what they need to reach their full potential. We take risks here. And that when it becomes interesting. It’s to our advantage to sign young artists looking for that kind of support. That’s where a publisher can make a real difference, at that stage. Later on, they get more experienced and many artists, nowadays, leave publishing houses to become publishers themselves. It’s a global trend. However, those artists often come back for rights management services, an expertise they don’t have.”

For Lafrance, success is a multi-faceted thing. Publishers can be satisfied with critical success or with a one-radio-hit artist, whereas a record company might find that situation dire because a radio hit doesn’t necessarily translate into music sales. “To be a publisher, you need to be in for the long run,” he says. “We don’t operate in the here and now, like record labels. We’re visionaries.” A publisher’s support also applies to supporting their artists’ career paths, such as was the case for Jason Bajada, Aliocha and Matt Holubowski, all of whom recently took part in a songwriting workshop in L.A.

For all of his vision, Lafrance is not a fan of tight yearly plans. Éditorial Avenue doesn’t have catalogue acquisition, artist signing or European sub-catalogue targets. “We don’t really control the number of catalogue signings,” he says. “It’s quite like real estate. Some years are good and we get nice offers. I’m thinking, for example, of the acquisition of such catalogues as those of Claude Léveillée, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Marcel Lefebvre’s – the ’70s Luc Plamondon – Laurence Jalbert, or Jean Lapointe… But I never set a number of signing per year.”

What he does have a say on is the diversification of his activities. This year, Éditorial developed two new sectors: a neighbouring rights department and international rights clearance. The latter’s latest negotiation was for Nintendo Japan to clear the rights for songs by Katy Perry and Taylor Swift for two video games.

It’s these new playgrounds that re-kindle the flame in Lafrance’s eyes. “I want to be here at Éditorial in five years. In 10 years,” he says. “As a matter of fact, I hope to work until I’m 90, if my health will let me. Because all this isn’t actually work, for me.”

 


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Catherine MacLellan and Tara MacLean grew up together, consider themselves family, have the same job, and by coincidence, both had the same goal for 2017.  They desperately wanted to spend the whole summer in the place they love and call home, Prince Edward Island.   And independently, they both came up with the same solution.  They each spent the summer presenting theatrical shows on the Island, both of which proved to be huge hits with audiences, and career highlights for each singer-songwriter.

Who wouldn’t want to spend the summer on P.E.I.? Especially with its coastline covered in amazing beaches, its many restaurants out-doing each other, serving up all manner of seafood delicacies, and a relaxed, life-is-good attitude everywhere.  Even with tens of thousands of tourists arriving from all over the world, it’s still surprisingly un-crowded.  But you can’t stay at the beach all night, and those tourists are always looking for some evening entertainment.

Catherine MacLellan

Catherine MacLellan (Photo : TC/Dave Stewart)

MacLellan lives in P.E.I. year-round, and is always faced with a dilemma. She loves being home, but has to leave for most of her work, especially touring the summer festival circuit. “Living in P.E.I., you want to be here as much as you can,” she says. “Especially in the summer, because you wait all winter long for the summer… Somebody like me, who’s touring all the time, never really gets to enjoy it.”

MacLean had a different problem.  Although she was born and raised in P.E.I., life had taken her to Salt Spring Island, BC, to raise her family.  She’d actually gone on hiatus from music in 2008, but was feeling the urge to start performing again, her three kids having grown a little older.  Also, she felt the call of home, especially after her grandmother had taken sick, and wanted to be around her family.

It’s not surprising that they both came up with the same plan.  MacLellan’s father, Gene, and MacLean’s dad, Marty Reno, were best friends and musical partners from 1971 on.  Marty backed Gene on his tours, they made a gospel album together, and had a band together, Refuge, in the ‘80s.  The families have always been close, and even lived together for a time in Burlington, ON, when the girls were little.   “I remember sitting at their feet so much, just listening to them sing together,” says MacLean.  “It seemed to be that they always had their guitars out.  Their music was the first real music that I knew, that moved through me.”

Prince Edward Island’s arts scene is as vibrant as its weather, and every small hall on the Island has been turned into a cultural space, with theatre groups, cèilidhs (traditional Irish/Scottish community dance parties), comedy troupes, music acts offering no shortage of entertainment for the tourist trade.  MacLean and MacLellan both came up with bold plans to each combine their music skills with a night at the theatre.  Even though they both made their names as songwriters, MacLean for her adventurous solo albums and pop songs with the band Shaye, and MacLellan for her own JUNO Award-winning folk music, for these shows, they’re performing the classics of other songwriters.

“She sends people to my show, and I send people to hers. It’s a family business we got going here!” – Tara MacLean

MacLean is paying tribute to the great songwriters of the East Coast, who influenced her, like Ron Hynes, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Sarah McLachlan and Lennie Gallant.  In a show called Atlantic Blue, playing at the Guild Theatre in Charlottetown, she and her band perform songs by each artist, along with short films she’s prepared to tell their stories.  Just right for East Coast music fans, and tourists ready to learn about some local heroes.

“It’s been half and half, locals and tourists,” says MacLean. “There’ve been people coming up from the southern States.  Most of my career was spent touring the U.S., so it was really wonderful to see that people were still devoted and would make the trip.”

Tara MacLean

Tara MacLean (Photo : Sarah MacPhee)

Across the city at the P.E.I. Brewing Co., MacLellan has been performing If It’s Alright with You – The Life and Music of My Father, Gene MacLellan.  For years, Catherine avoided her father’s legacy, wanting to make her own name in music.  More recently, she finally felt ready to explore his work and created the show (and an album of the same name), which features his iconic hits – “Snowbird” and “Put Your Hand in The Hand” –  and tells his life story through anecdotes and photos.  Catharine was only 14 when her dad passed away in 1995, so she shares her search for him with the audience.

“They go in with no expectations, and think it’s kind of interesting that my dad wrote these big songs,” says MacLellan. “That might be all they know at that point, but by the end they seem to come out with a clear picture of who he was, and they’re interested in that story. For me, it’s great to talk about his accomplishments and the funny little path he trod all the way along. But at the end, my dad took his own life, and to be able to talk about mental health is really important.  So that has been really resonating with people.”

While both SOCAN members admit to enjoying a bit of beach time, what’s really been satisfying is the complete success of each show.  “It’s been everything and more, it’s been so wonderful, and the audiences have given me such great feedback,” says MacLean.

“We started this not knowing if people were even going to like the show, and then people have been coming back two and three times to see it,” says MacLellan.  “It’s been sold out since July, and it looks like it might be until the end of the run [in early October].   It’s pretty exciting, and I just feel so grateful.”

The Guild has already announced it will be bringing back MacLean’s show for 2018.  MacLellan hopes to do the same, and also plans to tour the show to the rest of the country this fall, and the spring of 2018.

And no, there’s no semi-sibling rivalry going on. “I love that Catherine is doing the show as well, and it just feels so good to know that we’re both home,” says MacLean.  “She sends people to my show, and I send people to hers. It’s a family business we got going here!”


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At a time when some Québec recording industry players are aggrieved by an industry that’s undergoing a paradigm shift, with whole sectors being quickly struck down, other resourceful producers have turned instead to multiple options introduced by the new era. Among them, Montréal’s Jean-Phi Goncalves – along with a few major supporters – stands out with his XS Music sound design company. Although this “post-hierarchical” way of working leaves many wondering, the “small music box with the big sound” is a towering presence in Québec’s current musical landscape.

Jean-Phi GoncalvesThe new project was created in 2011, at a time when Goncalves was taking a break from his stellar Beast venture, and was releasing a final album with the Montréal-based electro-jazz band Plaster. It came about when Goncalves was recruited to score Filière 13, a feature film directed by comedian/actor Patrick Huard, whom the composer had met on the set of the Tout Le Monde En Parle television talk show. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Everything fell into place pretty naturally from there,” says Goncalves. “I’m not someone who needs to follow a more or less specific plan. In the sort of vibe that was happening at that time, there were opportunities, and I seized them. That’s roughly how things went.”

There is no doubt in Goncalves’ mind that all of his different projects are inter-related: “Plaster and Beast made people a bit more aware of what I was doing,” he explains. “It opened the doors to this new world – and I’d say that even today, these remain reference points in the minds of many people.”

Now for the killer question: Did the music creator morph into a businessman? “I’m not a businessman,” he says. “I’m a full-time music-maker and a part-time manager. Let’s say I devote 25 per cent of my time to administration, and 75 per cent to making music.”

How is the creative approach inside a band different from that of a client pitch? “When I’m creating music for a project, whatever it may be, specific constraints and parameters define the creative approach,” says Goncalves. “This is either a challenge or an issue, depending on how you look at it. There are times when this becomes quite beneficial, because I strongly believe that we are our own worst enemies, in terms of putting up barriers…

“If you’re writing music for an ad, they often approach you with very specific elements, when they’re not downright asking for music pieces that inspire them… So, sometimes this makes things easier and helps you hit the bullseye more quickly, while at other times the parameters that have been chosen aren’t necessarily the right ones, and direct you towards something that’s not always optimal. It really is a double-edged sword.”

Goncalves signed on as  music director of part three of Cirque du Soleil’s tribute series, Stone, which was dedicated to the repertoire of Luc Plamondon (following Hommage à Beau Dommage in 2015 and Tout écartillé, dedicated to Robert Charlebois, in 2016). This was after writing the original music of Cirque Éloize’s iD show a few years ago, “Jeannot Painchaud started the ball rolling with me and the circus,” he says. “He liked Beast and wanted something with a modern sound. One thing lead to another, and they approached me for the Beau Dommage show, which delivered beautiful results.”

Realizing that a new album could come out of the Plamondon experience, Goncalves describes it as one of the nicer mandates of his professional career. “Obviously, a context such as that one is something pretty ideal,” he says. “Being basically a music show, the music is placed at the forefront, and this puts additional pressure on me, and really stimulates me.”

Without ruling out an eventual return to a conventional stage music project, Goncalves is increasingly delighted with his new role as a studio rat. “Touring is a fleeting thing,” he says. “In the studio, however, it’s more tangible, it’s listenable. It’s almost like building a house: there’s something more solid, and that’s what’s really got me hooked.”


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