SOCAN presented a “Cookin’ Beats” panel with JUNO Award-winning, multi-platinum-selling producer and instrumentalist Akeel Henry  at the SOCAN-sponsored 2023 edition of IMSTA FESTA, a free, one-day music tech conference, presented by the International Music Software Trade Association (IMSTA), and held in the Rogers Communications building at Toronto Metropolitan University on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023.

Henry has produced or co-produced Jazmine Sullivan’s “Hurt Me So Good” and  John Legend’s “Splash” (featuring Ty Dolla $ign & Jhene Aiko), among others. He’s toured with Daniel Caesar and executive-produces buzzing Canadian R&B act LOONY. Young beat-makers, producers, artists, and industry personnel packed the room for the panel, moderated by SOCAN Creative Executive, Black Music, Lord Quest. Henry demonstrated some of his techniques, offered a look into his creative process,  and provided the crowd with tips on how to raise their production game.

Lord Quest also conducted an interview for the panel “AI in Music” with Illmind, a two-time Grammy winner and multi-platinum-selling producer who’s worked with artists such as Kanye West, J Cole, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Beyoncé & Jay-Z, and many more. Illmind founded “Blap-Kits,” a series of beat-making tools available for music producers; hosts the weekly podcast Illmind Put The Loop On; released the first ever sample pack NFT; and built a metaverse recording studio for virtual reality meet-ups. He discussed the already profound impact of AI on the music industry, from the rapid generation of melody ideas to mentoring aspiring musicians; how he deploys AI to transform a demo vocalist’s voice into that of an artist, opening up exciting possibilities for pitching songs to that artist; and his newly-developed AI clone ChatBot, known as BlapGPT.

In a coup for IMSTA FESTA, the keynote speech was delivered by Noah “40” Shebib, the producer for all of Drake’s albums, and co-founder of his OVO Sound label. Shebib boasts an impressive tally of 18 Grammy Award nominations, securing two prestigious wins. He’s also lent his production talents to the likes of Lil Wayne, Alicia Keys, Beyoncé, and Jamie Foxx.

SOCAN Creative Executive, East Coast,  Houtan Hodania also presented a SOCAN 101 panel, Music Rights and Royalties, during IMSTA FESTA 2023.

In a wide-ranging, free-form discussion, Grammy- and Academy Award-nominated songwriter, composer, producer, pianist, and recording artist Stephan Moccio shared his demo recordings, stories, and insights with a crowd of about 100 aspiring music creators and music ecosystem representatives, at a Masterclass presented by The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF), on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023, at the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto.

Moccio was joined by SOCAN Creative Executive, Film/TV & Visual Media, Gagan Singh, who moderated the event, which was co-presented by RBC Emerging Artists, in association with Ontario Creates, and supported by SOCAN and SOCAN Foundation.

Moccio played recordings that illustratively segued from the solo-piano-and-voice demo versions of his most famous music to the final recordings of it, including those for “Wrecking Ball” by Miley Cyrus, “Earned It” by The Weeknd, “A New Day Has Come” by Céline Dion, and “Daylight Saving” by Seal. He also demonstrated the evolution of those compositions – and others, including the Rogers Sports Network themes for NHL Hockey and Blue Jays Baseball, and the CTV theme for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics – by playing snippets of them on a grand piano, in the various styles assumed as he developed them.

Among the stories he shared was the one about how he co-wrote “Wrecking Ball” with Sacha Skarbek and Maureen “Mozella” McDonald. “Mozella was supposed to get married, but she called off the wedding that week, and almost didn’t show up to the writing session,” said Moccio. “Sacha had the pre-chorus idea, and we came up with the verse, but we were stuck for the chorus.” Moccio presented a delicate melody for it, that was later turned into big, dramatic piano chords. “Mozella spent the next three hours completing the lyrics for it, which was painful… She played it for her friend Miley Cyrus, who was going through her own breakup, and Miley loved it… My piano, which Mozella originally sang to, ended up being the final piano on Miley’s recording.”

Moccio also told the story of how, while studying at the University of Western Ontario, he attended a Céline Dion concert, introduced himself to her manager René Angélil, and asked to meet Dion. Backstage, he boldly told the singer that he planned to write her a hit song. Exactly a decade later, Moccio – with Aldo Nova – co-wrote Dion’s “A New Day Has Come,” a record-breaking hit that topped the Hot AC charts for 21 weeks in 2002, and was the title song of both her album and Las Vegas residency show.

Moccio said that passion and dedication are required to fulfill and complete that kind of 10-year artistic vision. As with “A New Day Has Come,” when he was inspired by David Foster’s theme for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics theme, he was determined to compose one as well – and 22 years later, he did. The same passion and dedication was in effect for the first TV theme he landed, for CTV’s the Camilla Scott Show. The 26-year-old Moccio was working three daily jobs – one as a house producer at Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada, and two as a lounge-bar pianist, at both the Four Seasons Hotel and Centro Restaurant in Toronto – when he cold-called a CTV producer and asked about pitching a theme song. When they agreed to give him a shot, he spent countless late-night hours recording, and endlessly refining, his demo in a small, camped apartment. But when it was accepted, his first SOCAN cheque after that was for about $17,000 – which he promptly re-invested into his career.

Moccio was at pains to explain that despite what it might look like, he’s had far more “misses” than hits. As an illustrative example, he played three different, high-end video commercials, with three different musical variations of his theme – all created independently, at his own considerable expense –  that he pitched to Air Canada for a huge branding campaign. Despite a great reaction at the pitch meeting, the company ended up not using it.

Among Moccio’s best insights and advice to music creators:

  • “Make sure your melody is reduced to the minimum amount of information required to get it across.”
  • “Achieving your dreams will depend on your ability to fund them.”
  • “Screen composing can provide invisible support for a pop music career.”
  • “Go get what you need; nobody’s going to give it to you.”
  • “Your audience will feel it if you’re making music for the right reasons.”
  • “Believe, believe, believe in yourself, and keep on doing it.”

ADISQ kicked off its awards ceremonies cycle with the presentation of the first two of three galas, where Québec’s music industry was gathered. A total of 45 Félix trophies were awarded during the Premier Gala de l’ADISQ, hosted by Sarahmée, as well as the industry awards gala, that took place at Montréal’s MTELUS and Place des Arts’ Piano Nobile, respectively, on Nov. 1, 2023.

Among the SOCAN members who stood out, Daniel Bélanger was the favourite with nine artistic and industry nominations. Unable to attend, he won three, including the coveted Album of the Year – Critics’ Choice and Album of the Year – Pop for Mercure en mai. Philippe Brach also won three trophies, two Félix at the Gala de l’industrie, and Album of the Year – Alternative at the Premier Gala for Les gens qu’on aime.

We met Richard Séguin in the press room just after he picked up Album of the Year – Folk for Les liens les lieux, and asked about his impressions of the win, and the pace of his songwriting.

SOCAN, ADISQ Gala, 2023, Richard Séguin

Select the image to play the French YouTube video interview with Richard Séguin (English subtitled version to come.)

Other awards were presented to:

  • Ginette Reno: Album of the Year – Adult Contemporary C’est tout moi
  • Matt Holubowski: Album of the Year – Anglophone Like Flowers on a Molten Lawn
  • Valaire: Album of the Year – Multilingual or Other Languages Jazz Futon
  • Francis Degrandpré: Album of the Year – Country Soir de quai
  • Anomalie : Album of the Year – Jazz Galerie
  • Shauit : Album of the Year – Indigenous languages Natukun
  • Alexandra Stréliski : Album of the Year – Instrumental Music Néo-Romance
  • Pierre Kwenders: Album of the Year – World Music José Louis and the Paradox of Love
  • Loud: Album of the Year – Rap Aucune promesse
  • Les Cowboys Fringants : Album of the Year – Re-interpretation En concert avec l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal
  • Les Trois Accords : Album of the Year – Rock Présence d’esprit
  • Le Vent du Nord, Le Quatuor Trad, Philippe Prud’homme : Album of the Year – Traditional Les voix du Vent avec cordes et piano
  • Jonathan Roy : Live Show of the Year – Anglophone Life Distortions Tour
  • Salebarbes: Live Show of the Year – Variety/Re-interpretations Salebarbes
  • Clay & Friends: Live Show of the Year – Multilingual or Other Languages AGUÀ
  • Ariane Roy: Video of the Year – Kundah

Premier Gala ADISQ 2023At the Industry Gala, the Félix award for Publishing Team of the Year, presented by APEM – who collaborated with ADISQ to reintroduce this honour after several dormant years – went to Third Side Music. Homage was also paid to Rosaire Archambault, former member of the Board of Directors of SOCAN and ADISQ, among others, for his impressive career. The late Guy Latraverse, another major contributor to Québec show business, also received a posthumous tribute.

Naomi won the $10,000 Bell Media Breakout Artist cash prize. For its second edition, the Collegial Song of the Year Award, a $5,000 cash prize, went to Gab Bouchard for “Dépotoir.” This prize was awarded by a jury composed of students from 19 cégeps in Québec.

A number of SOCAN members performed at the Premier Gala de l’ADISQ, including Ariane Roy, Bleu Jeans Bleu, Jay Scøtt and Mike Clay, Les Shirley, Les sœurs Boulay, Matiu, Shauit, Shreez, Zach Zoya, and Sarahmée, who hosted the event for the first time.

The show is available to watch online Nov. 3, 2023, and will be aired on Nov. 5, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. ET on Télé-Québec. This 45th annual celebration of the Québec music industry will conclude on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2023 at 8:00 p.m. ET with the televised Gala, once again hosted by comedian Louis-José Houde, and broadcast on ICI Radio-Canada Télé live from the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of Place des Arts.

For a complete list of the Premier Gala and Industry gala winners, access the ADISQ website.