Allan Slaight, a Canadian rock ‘n’ roll radio pioneer, and one of Canada’s most vital and relentless music, arts, and health philanthropists passed away on Sept. 19, 2021, at the age of 90, at his Toronto home.

Slaight combined his strong entrepreneurial skills with his with his vast knowledge of radio to create Canada’s largest privately-owned multi-media company, the Standard Broadcasting Corporation. He was one of the greatest boosters of Canadian music in the history of the industry: he helped build long-standing Toronto radio stations CHUM and Q107, and supported the JUNO Awards, Canada’s Walk of Fame, and Canadian Music Week – all of which have named awards and funds after him.

Slaight also ran Global Television in the 1970s, and in the 1980s took over Standard Broadcasting, where he remained for decades. He also had his own radio broadcasting company, Slaight Communications, and in the early 1990s, he was a part owner of the Toronto Raptors. The Slaight Family Foundation and Slaight Music, now run by his son Gary Slaight, have supported charities related to health care, at-risk youth, the arts, music, international development, and social services. The National Arts Centre in Ottawa says the Slaights have been especially supportive of emerging artists, as well as the centre’s Indigenous Theatre, and #CanadaPerforms, a pandemic relief fund for professional Canadian artists.

Born in 1931, Slaight began his career as a touring magician, before following his father into the media business. At age 16, he hosted his own late-night jazz radio program, Spins and Needles, at CHAB in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. He moved to Edmonton in 1950, and by 1956 had worked his way up to National Sales Manager at CHED. Then the fledgling CHUM Radio in Toronto hired him to turn around its poor fortunes, which he did: Slaight’s programming, promotions, and business skills turned CHUM into a household name in the city.

In 1970, he established Slaight Communications and bought radio stations CFGM in Toronto and CFOX in Montréal. In 1977, he launched a new rock ‘n’ roll FM radio station, Q107, in Toronto. In 1985, Slaight Communications sold CFGM and Q107, and purchased the Standard Broadcasting Corporation, which he developed from seven radio stations to a national network of more than 50 outlets. In 2007, the Slaight family sold Standard Broadcasting to Astral Media.

Slaight also served as a trustee of Women’s College Hospital (1978-1982), a director of the United Way of Greater Toronto (1979-1987), a director of the Shaw Festival (1982-1988), a governor of York University (1986-1987), and a director of the Festival of Festivals (1989-1993). He’s an inductee into the Broadcast Hall of Fame, the recipient of an Honorary Doctor of Commerce from Ryerson, a Member of the Order of Canada, and the recipient of the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award for his contribution to the growth and development of the Canadian music industry.

SOCAN mourns the loss of this great Canadian music innovator and champion, and extends its condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and all of those he’s helped throughout the Canadian music ecosystem, arts community, health and wellness sector, and social services arena.

The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (CSHF) is pleased to announce the song induction for the rock classic, “What About Love,” which rose to international fame as one of the most successful hits for the band Heart.  The song was one of three written by Toronto bandmates Brian Allen and Sheron Alton, with Jim Vallance; and although it was infamously left off of Toronto’s third album, it would ultimately become one of their greatest songwriting achievements.

The song induction will air on Global Television’s The Morning Show on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, presented by the CSHF to the team of Allen, Alton, and Vallance, along with a special appearance by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Ann Wilson.  As part of the virtual presentation, Toronto-based singer-songwriter SATE will perform the iconic song live from El Mocambo.

“‘What About Love’ goes to show that there’s a story behind every great song,” said Nicholas Fedor, Director of the Hall of Fame.  The song not only changed the trajectory for Heart, marking their first hit out of the gate with Capitol Records, but ironically became a hit after Toronto disbanded. Jim Vallance continued his highly successful hit-writing partnership with Bryan Adams, Aerosmith and many others.

Allen, Alton, and Vallance co-wrote the song in 1982 to fit a title that Vallance suggested, and the band recorded a demo, but later voted to leave it off their third album.  Allen remembers, “We had an overage of repertoire… and thought it didn’t fit with the others… it was all about fit.”  The band members voted on ballots tossed into a hat, and “What About Love” didn’t make the cut.

Vallance explained, “I thought it was quite a good song, but unfortunately they decided to leave it off the album. So the demo sat on a shelf for a few years.”

Fast-forward three years later to 1985. As Allen told FYI Music News, “I played the demo for ‘What About Love’ to Mike McCarty, then at ATV Music Publishing.  He stopped the cassette partway through and said, ‘I think I could work with this one.’”  McCarty sent it off to the producer for the rock group Heart, who happened to be in search of a strong single for their next album.  Since Heart’s first album had been produced in Canada, and the Wilson sisters had lived in Vancouver for several years, the song from three Canadian songwriters was an easy fit.

Heart recorded a version that was very close to the original demo, and as Ann Wilson described it, “My job was to take it and bring out the strength in it.”  And she did just that. Wilson’s powerhouse vocal, with an especially emotive chorus and heartfelt cry, “What about love?” re-plays in the listener’s mind long after the song ends.

The single enjoyed 12 weeks on the Top 40 charts, and became Heart’s first Top 10 hit in five years. In addition to garnering BMI and (SOCAN precursor organization) PROCAN awards, “What About Love” catapulted the multi-platinum selling album Heart to great success, as it earned a Grammy nomination, and rose to No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart in Canada.

As Brian Allen later laughed, “One of the smartest dumb things I ever did was voting that song out of the album!”

Toronto themselves didn’t release the original “What About Love” until 2002, when Solid Gold Records added the track as a bonus on their re-issued Get It On Credit album.  Guitarists Brian Allen and Sheron Alton had four platinum albums with Toronto. Allen is a sought-after producer, has been an executive with SOCAN, a major-label A&R Vice President, and currently serves as a Director on the Board of the Country Music Association of Ontario.  The multiple award-winning Jim Vallance is one of Canada’s pre-eminent songwriters, and is the composer behind numerous international hits with Bryan Adams, and other top artists.

Following the virtual induction presentation on Sept. 23, “What About Love” will take its place in the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame’s permanent home at the National Music Centre in Calgary, which features a celebrated catalogue of inducted songs that fans can listen to, in addition to displays, exclusive artifacts, and one-of-a-kind memorabilia celebrating Canada’s greatest songwriters and Inductees.

On Sept. 14, 2021, Music Publishers Canada and the RBC Emerging Artist Project presented a free online panel on the European Union Copyright Directive, as part of Canadian Music Week’s “Virtual Voices” series.

The hour-long online discussion featured John Phelan, Director General, International Confederation of Music Publishers, who spoke in depth with Axel Voss, Member of the European Parliament and Lead Negotiator for the EU Copyright Directive.

The directive seeks to enforce copyright compliance in the digital music space by requiring all “online content-sharing service providers” (essentially, user-generated-content platforms) to obtain authorizations from rights holders to provide the public access to copyright-protected works uploaded by the platform’s users.

Unless an online content-sharing service provider can demonstrate that it has made “best efforts” to either license copyrighted videos and songs in their users’ uploads, and take down infringing content and ensure that the song, video, or other creative work isn’t infringed upon again, the platform will be liable for copyright infringement.

While the EU directive is just a starting point in a rising tide of regulatory changes worldwide, the conversation also examined many possibilities for fairer renumeration from platforms using music as their main business model.

The imbalance is caused mainly by the “safe harbour” provisions, which big platforms used to disqualify themselves from legally complying with responsible music licensing. These provisions are applicable only to passive hosting sites, such as internet service providers.

According to Voss, there’s still time to correct that imbalance. In fact, the comprehensive EU Copyright Directive has been adopted by many of the 27 EU-member states, which will bring into force national laws to comply with it.

Similarly, in Canada, Bill C-10 – which died on the Order Paper once the 2021 Federal election was called – sought to regulate the digital global streaming platforms, to ensure Canadian creators are supported, fairly represented, and remunerated for their work when it’s used by online broadcasters, including user-generated content services.

Eventually, by making copyright reform an international effort, Voss explains, these corrective actions will ensure a “brighter future for the music industry.” He also adds that the EU Copyright Directive promotes building more trust, and encourages platforms and creators to work together, while allowing for more transparency.

When asked about the contentiousness surrounding Article 17 of the EU Copyright Directive as a hindrance to right of expression, censorship, and net neutrality, Voss explained that it’s a misunderstanding. In fact, Copyright Reform directives want platforms to use more copyright-protected works. They can legally use copyrighted music if they pay creators fairly. Directive 17 promotes mutual respect and obligations between the platform using the music and the creators of that music.

It’s clear that copyright reform is important and an integral part of international legislation. It clarifies big-tech obligations, and “future-proofs” compliance when new services come up, providing a clear legal landscape for user-generated-content services.

To learn more about the EU Copyright Directive, click here.