The news everyone dreaded finally arrived late on Nov. 15, 2023: Karl Tremblay, the frontman of one of Québec’s – and France’s – most revered bands, Les Cowboys Fringants, passed away at the age of 47, after a long battle with prostate cancer. “With an indescribable sadness, we announce the passing of Karl. He was an exemplary warrior in the face of illness, and a role model for us all. We wish to thank everyone who’s shown us love over the past years; your support has made us stronger,” wrote Marie-Annick Lépine, his life partner and fellow bandmember, alongside Jean-François Pauzé and Jérôme Dupras, on their social networks.

Born on Oct. 28, 1976, Karl Tremblay met his Cowboys Fringants sidekick and the band’s main songwriter, Jean-François Pauzé, at the age of 18. Their creative partnership gelled rapidly between 1995 and 2000, while they wrote songs and performed in bars and brasseries in and around the Montréal suburb of Repentigny, and independently recorded three albums: 12 grandes chansons, Sur mon canapé and Motel Capri.

It was the start of an exceptional career in the Québec music world, but also the beginning of an unprecedented love affair between the band and their audience. Their fan base was loyal, passionate, and inspired, thanks to the band’s heartfelt portraits of everyday characters – that the audience identified with as much as the more political and social protest songs they wrote. That reputation became undeniable with the release of their album Break Syndical (2002) that included the song “En berne,” which immediately became the anthem for a whole generation of disillusioned youth. They followed with a string of successes over some 15 albums, while the group’s popularity was on a meteoric rise, both at home and in France –  where the Cowboys, until very recently, were stadium fillers.

The news of Tremblay’s health issues in July of 2022 was devastating to the group’s fans. Despite it all, Tremblay and his bandmates weren’t going to give up that easily. Despite multiple cancellations and postponements of concerts due to his medical treatments, they were able to make one last round of dates that lasted just over a year, culminating with their performance at the Festival d’été de Québec on July 17, 2023, in front of 90,000 listeners. The audience enjoyed every moment of the highly emotional show, which served as the farewell to a man who forever marked the history of popular music in Québec.

The whole SOCAN family extends its most sincere condolences to the members of the Cowboys Fringants, to Karl Tremblay’s family, to the entire team at La Tribu, the Cowboys’ record label and booking agency, and to all those who had the honour of meeting, even briefly, this true giant of Québec’s musical ecosystem.

Mais au bout du ch’min, dis-moi c’qui va rester
De la p’tite école et d’la cour de récré
Quand les avions en papier ne partent plus au vent
On se dit que l’bon temps passe finalement
Comme une étoile filante

— “Les Étoiles filantes,” Les Cowboys Fringants

[freely translated]
But at the end of the road, tell me what will be left
Of grade school and its playground
When paper planes don’t catch the wind anymore
And we tell ourselves that good times, in the end
Are as fleeting as a shooting star


SOCAN is taking the next step in delivering more for our members with the announcement of our new, strategic partnership with technology provider Spanish Point Technologies. This relationship will significantly improve our processes, our data quality, and how we work together to serve our members. The arrangement aims to provide more efficient, timely, and accurate music rights and royalty services to our more than 185,000 songwriter, composer, and publisher members.

After much research, SOCAN selected Spanish Point Technologies for its extensive knowledge and experience in the music industry. Having developed software that uses many common industry standards, their team has a thorough understanding of our business, and what’s needed to achieve even better results for our members.

Spanish Point’s Matching Engine technology will allow SOCAN to tackle several current operational challenges. It will help us standardize and streamline various aspects of our operations, including multi-rights repertoire management, usage ingestion and matching, and distribution processing. It will create a more seamless flow of data and information between processes, and with our members. And it will allow for more flexible royalty distribution schedules, and provide our members with an even more user-friendly portal.

Spanish Point technology will replace existing repertoire management, distribution processing, and member portal functionality.  It’s going to allow us to spend more time supporting our members, and less time supporting our technology systems.

A number of leading collective management organizations around the world are already working with, or currently on-boarding, with Spanish Point in various capacities, to standardize their back-office processes, including data management. By using the same system as other music rights organizations, we’ll benefit from collaboration on best practices, and evolve as an industry to build better systems together, with a company committed to delivering improvements specifically for collective management organizations.

A full team of dedicated staff at SOCAN will support the transition to Spanish Point. The work being done by the team, like data clean-up, is aligned with and supports progress in current processes as well. During the implementation of Spanish Point technology, SOCAN will continue to work on the issues that are important to our members. The implementation of Spanish Point’s Matching Engine product will take place between now and July of 2025.

Members will receive regular updates via e-mail, and interested members can join us for drop-in meetings every four months with key executive staff, to receive project updates, understand next steps, and provide feedback on the decisions that will directly impact them.

Spanish Point’s technological expertise, combined with SOCAN’s member-centric strategy, aims to set new standards for excellence, as we work to revolutionize our service to members, endeavour to deliver royalties more efficiently, and change the way we work together. We’re poised to deliver a new era of efficiency, accountability, and member satisfaction.

On Nov. 14, 2023, Québec Cinéma revealed the list of nominees for the 2023 Iris Awards. Twelve SOCAN member screen composers are finalists in the Best Original Score and Best Original Score – Documentary categories.

The 2023 nominees for Best Original Score are:

  • Christophe Lamarche-Ledoux and Mathieu Charbonneau, for Viking – Publishers: Bravo Musique Éditions inc. / Meloscope
  • Daniel Bélanger, for Confessions – Publishers: Christian Larouche Marketing / Achille Cassel Édition
  • Dominique Plante, for Les chambres rouges
  • Martin Léon, for Tu te souviendras de moi – Publisher: Christian Larouche Marketing
  • Viviane Audet, Robin-Joël Cool, and Alexis Martin, for Arsenault et Fils – Publisher: Idea3 inc.

The nominees for Best Original Score – Documentary are:

  • Delphine Measroch, for Humus
  • Gervaise, for Gabor
  • Maxime Lacoste-Lebuis, for Au-delà des hautes vallées
  • Olivier Alary and Johannes Malfatti, for Twice Colonized
  • Walker Grimshaw, for Dear Audrey – Publisher: Cineclef Publishing

Stéphane Lafleur’s film Viking is the most honoured, with a total of 18 nominations. Other films dominating the tally include Monia Chokri’s Babysitter, with 14 nominations; Pascal Plante’s Les chambres rouges with 13 nods; Francis Leclerc’s Le plongeur with 12 of them; and Rafaël Ouellet’s Arsenault et fils, which is up for eight Iris Awards.

The 25th edition of the Gala Québec Cinéma will be broadcast live on Noovo and on Dec. 10, 2023. The Gala Artisans, where the musical awards will be presented, will be held on Dec. 7, 2023, at Studio TD in Montréal, and will be hosted by Fabiola Nyrva Aladin.

For the full list of nominees, access the Gala Québec Cinéma website. Congratulations and Good Luck to the nominees!