Jodie Ferneyhough has done a lot of growing up since assuming the managing director’s job at Universal Music Publishing Canada nine years ago. In 2001, he took his seat at his first CMPA board of directors meeting feeling every inch the impostor. “I knew who most of the players were and I looked up to them,” he recalls. “They were established business people and here I was, this punk-rock, indie guy with ripped jeans. I was completely terrified. For the next few years I’d say to my wife, ‘One of these days somebody’s going to figure out that I really don’t know what I’m doing.’”

After five years spent learning the music-publishing ropes at peermusic Canada, Ferneyhough felt he was ready to “raise my game and play with the big boys, but I had to grow up a lot, get respect on the boards, get noticed, have a positive voice.”

Today, Ferneyhough can comfortably claim to have done all of the above. He has held it together for UMPG Canada during a period when music sales have been eviscerated and radio play eroded. He sits on the boards of SOCAN, the SOCAN Foundation, the CMPA (presently in his third term as president) and CMRRA. “I took on the SOCAN Foundation board because I wanted to learn what it was, to really understand what they do. I want to have a complete picture of all the bodies I belong to,” he says.


“I go to Ottawa a lot for the CMPA. Right now we’re lobbying for changes to Bill C-32. It’s not what I signed up for but it’s become a big part of my job and it’s important. The climate has become so challenging for music publishers and creators and we have to fight for every crumb.”

Ferneyhough started in the music business on the distribution side (stocking shelves), before moving into artist management and then on to music publishing. He’s made a lot of friends and seen a lot of good people fall down for want of a benefit plan, something few indie enterprises are in a position to provide. So he’s throwing his weight behind a pet project called the Unison Benevolent Fund, an operation he hopes will be able to provide health insurance and emergency relief to people in the music business who find their backs against a wall.

“SOCAN was instrumental in helping us get started,” says Ferneyhough. “It’s not just for musicians — it will be for managers, booking agents, roadies, independent professionals who have dedicated themselves to the business but who don’t have access to low-cost health and dental insurance. Right now, we’re trying to build awareness and raise seed money; our goal is to come up with $1-million by 2011.” For more information, visit