On Thursday, June 20, 2024, at a ceremony during the 35th edition of the Francofolies de Montréal, the Association professionnelle des éditeurs de musique (APEM), in collaboration with SOCAN, presents Rosaire Archambault, one of the architects of Québec’s modern music industry, with the Christopher J. Reed Award. The honour is given to “a person who is engaged in their professional community, who respects creators and copyright, and whose contribution to the music publishing world is known and appreciated.”

“My friend Christopher was a charming man. That’s actually one of the reasons why I’m accepting this award – I truly liked Christopher. I’m so not the type who seeks awards and recognition,” said Archambault humbly, despite this being his second award in less than a year.

In October 2023, ADISQ honoured him with the Industry Homage Félix Award. recognizing his decades of service “for my career at Archambault, on the distribution side, on the retail side, and then all my years at Audiogram with Michel Bélanger,” the music industry veteran summarized. “I was a distributor, a record dealer, a producer, a publisher, all trades that support music creation.”

Indeed, the entrepreneur also left his mark in the publishing world, by co-founding Editorial Avenue, as well as being a member of the SOCAN Board of Directors for many years. “I was elected on the Board of [SOCAN precursor organization] CAPAC [the Composers Authors and Publishers Association of Canada] in 1983,” says Archambault. At the time, he’d just become the CEO of the Maison Archambault founded by his great-uncle, Edmond. “I sat on the CAPAC Board when it became SOCAN,” following the merger of the former organization and the Performing Rights Organization of Canada (PROCAN) in 1990.

After the invitations to sit on these Boards, Archambault transformed the record label Disques Sélect, founded in 1959 by his father – who had also founded the Alouette imprint seven years earlier – into a record distribution venture. “My dad had also founded Éditions Archambault,” he recalls. “In 1975, I was just graduating from business school, but I had no clue what was going to happen to me. All I knew was that my dad wanted me to work with him. Disques Sélect was one of the first record labels to record songwriters, composers, and recording artists from Québec, like Pierre Létourneau, Jean-Pierre Ferland, Robert Charlebois, Hervé Brousseau, and so many more.

“He was a producer, but he was also a publisher. Jean-Pierre Ferland, who just passed away, his first songs – “Ton visage,” “Les fleurs de macadam,” “Avant de m’assagir” – were all published by Éditions Archambault.” Years later, Rosaire recommended to his friend, and business partner in Audiogram, Michel Bélanger, that he become a publisher as well. “Why? Because he already was, ultimately,” says Archambault. “He was a producer, he went to the studio, acted as the artistic director for many albums he was producing,” so working in music publishing was a way to support developing artists even better.

The veteran was on the frontlines of the professionalization of the music publishing trade, as he founded Éditorial Avenue with his partner Michel Bélanger, who hired publisher Daniel Lafrance – who, in turn, founded APEM. Archambault is adamant: “APEM has given Québec’s music publishing its letters of nobility,” he says. “Let’s face it, publishers in the past – I’m talking back my father’s time, and even before that – were often not paid by the producers. Talk to old-timers like me; it was horrible, there was no education on what copyright was. The proper music publishing trade didn’t really exist, and there was a need to create an association. Daniel did it, and we’re all thankful” that he contributed so much to making the role of publishers, and its importance, understood.

According to Archambault, “music publishing was, for a long time, the odd one out of our industry. But ultimately, everyone came to understand that music was no longer going to be marketed on a physical medium, that we would no longer be merchants of pieces of plastic, and that it was going to become a business that revolves around rights. Everyone started fighting for their rights on all fronts – copyrights, neighbouring rights, etc. Everyone started wanting to get a bigger piece of this pie that is the revenues coming from streaming, and everyone knew we would need to find a more honest way to distribute those revenues.”

The fight is far from over, and the businessperson knows it. “Québec’s Francophone music industry is in danger, and I’m not the only one who thinks so,” he says. “You know it yourself: la Chanson Québécoise has had much better times, and right now, it’s really not the best of times for it. Streaming giants have to invest in Québec’s Francophone music, but it’s more than that: there’s still a lot of music being created, but it needs to be heard, which brings us back to the role of radio, and its diminishing audience. We’re in the streaming era, and playlists, and we need to stoke the desire of everyone in Québec to sing in French, and listen to Francophone music.

“When I received the Félix award last fall, I gave a speech. The last sentence of that speech was: ‘Thank you for taking care of our industry – it’s fragile.’ I’m not here to tell people what to do, I’m just asking them to be careful!”