Nothing pointed to the fact that Rafael Perez would become a manager, label owner, and certainly not a music publisher. Born in Québec City, he got to publishing almost by accident, after a few crucial meetings that led him where he is today, namely the head of Coyote Records, one of Québec’s most interesting record labels – thanks to its unique flair and very diverse catalogue.
Want examples? First, there’s Karim Ouellet, who’s the reason it all happened, and then there’s Klô Pelgag, Alfa Rococo, Antoine Corriveau, Claude Bégin, Julie Blanche, Félix Dyotte, Millimetrik, Ludo Pin, Peter Henry Phillips, Webster, Francis Faubert, and many more who’ve found a home in Coyote Records, formerly known as Abuzive Muzik.
After receiving many important awards, Coyote Records now figures among the most influential players on Québec’s cultural scene. “Up until about 2010, I was working mainly in the hip-hop scene, and then I signed Karim Ouellet and changed my company’s name to Coyote Records, which was my dog’s name,” explains Perez. He started out as the manager of the hip-hop duo Sagacité back in 2006, before creating Abuzive Muzik and becoming the main reference point on Québec City’s hip-hop scene. This jack-of-all-trades is still based in La Vieille Capitale.
“Karim Ouellet marks the beginning of Coyote Records as we know it today, which is to say a more generalist record label that is open to all musical genres and where hip-hop still has its place,” says Perez. “We do it all: electronic music, reggae, rock, pop, folk. We built a roster that’s quite diverse and we also publish all kinds of works in many networks these days. We champion styles that are popular in commercial networks, but we’re still very active in alternative networks.”
A total neophyte when he started out, Perez thought he was headed for a career in the restaurant industry and ended up being one of the most important players in the Quebec record industry, respected by his peers and passionate about his work. He learned on the fly, motivated by boundless determination and an undying love of music in all its many guises.
“At first, I had no idea what music publishing was,” says Perez. “One thing lead to the next, I started looking into it, and into artist management and concert production. I took up classes offered by ADISQ, I bought many books on the topic, and slowly but surely, it turned into a passion. That’s when I entered the wonderful world of Québec’s music, production and publishing. But to tell the truth, when I started out I was treading in uncharted territory; I didn’t have a single clue about what SOCAN, SODRAC, SOPROQ, Musication, SODEC or the Fonds RadioStar were about… There were so many players it made me dizzy!”
Ever humble, Perez admits he still has a lot to learn, but his unique insight has so far helped him navigate tactfully and strategically through a period of rapid change – where what was true yesterday won’t be necessarily true tomorrow.
“It’s obvious there’s going to be turmoil, but with time and the appropriate legislation, the music world will experience a golden age again.”
“Coyote Records’ core business is publishing,” he says. “Selling records is increasingly difficult and it certainly isn’t going to get any easier. It’s not our strength, in any case. But when it comes to publishing, we’re doing quite well. In other words, we’re a publisher with added value, and not the opposite, as is the case for other record labels.”
No matter what, the Coyote Records boss remains down-to-earth, and has a clear vision of his trade and the challenges he faces; he’s well aware that it won’t be a walk in the park.
“Many challenges await the industry,” he says. “Traditional media, which are a major source of revenue for creators and publishers, are mutating. As is the case for the record industry – to which people are turning their backs in favour of digital and streaming – I think listeners will move away from traditional radio and towards internet and satellite radio. This transition will no doubt have a significant impact on the revenue streams of creators. The same goes for television.
“Therefore, the way we compensate those people will gradually evolve, even though it’s not always as fair as it should be. It’s obvious there’s going to be turmoil, but with time and the appropriate legislation, the music world will experience a golden age again. In the short term, it’s likely going to be difficult for creators and publishers, but I’m confident it will get better in the long run.”