SOCAN welcomes the passage of Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, by the Senate.  

Streaming has grown significantly in recent years, but Canadian songwriters and composers have not received their fair share of this growth. Foreign streaming giants have enjoyed unfettered access to Canadian audiences and now, thanks to C-11, they will have to help support our cultural community and our Canadian songwriters.  

The Online Streaming Act sets the stage for the promotion and support of Canadian songwriters and composers, said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. We all benefit when our cultural policies reflect and encourage the Canadian experience and the creation and dissemination of Canadian stories and songs. 

This law is of crucial importance to the success of Québec music culture,” says Alexandre Alonso, SOCAN Executive Director of Québec Affairs. “Our data shows that Québec music creators are having difficulty reaching audiences on digital media, and Bill C-11 will encourage the promotion of their incredible work. 

Bill C-11 delivers on the promise of the Minister of Canadian Heritage, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, to regulate online streaming services while excluding its application to individual content creators.  

On behalf of its more than 185,000 members, SOCAN warmly thanks Minister Rodriguez for his leadership, and assures him of its continued support on any project that will support the growth of Canadian cultural industries. SOCAN also thanks NDP and Bloc Québécois Members of Parliament for their support on this very important issue. 


Gordon Lightfoot 1960s

Lightfoot in the 1960s

Legendary singer-songwriter and SOCAN member Gordon Lightfoot, whose work spanned more than 60 years, has died at the age of 84, on May 1, 2023. His exact cause of death wasn’t immediately available, though he had been suffering from emphysema, and reports say he died peacefully, of natural causes.

“Gordon Lightfoot was one of the greatest Canadian songwriters to ever put pen to paper, and lyrics to music,” said SOCAN CEO Jennifer Brown. “His music not only helped define the 1960s and early 1970s, but has proven itself true for all generations, everywhere in the world. SOCAN was privileged to count Gordon Lightfoot among our most celebrated members. He’ll be truly missed, and his songs will continue to be cherished by music lovers for as long as people listen to music. He’s an indelible part of the Canadian national spirit.”

Among countless honours, Lightfoot received the Governor’s General Award, and was inducted into the Order of Canada.  He also earned the SOCAN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 (and four other SOCAN Awards), as well as 17 JUNO Awards, four Grammy nominations, and was inducted into both Canada’s Walk of Fame and The Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame. Lightfoot is also in the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, and at the 1986 JUNO Awards, he was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame by his friend and musical colleague, Bob Dylan, who has always complimented Lightfoot’s songwriting skills. His radio hits in the U.S. have earned five No. 1s, five Top 10s, and 13 Top 40 hits; In Canada, he’s earned 16 No. 1s, 18 Top 10s and 21 Top 40 hits.

Lightfoot’s vast catalogue includes such all-time classics as “Early Morning Rain,” “If You Could Read My Mind,” “Carefree Highway,” “Sundown,” “(That’s What You Get) For Lovin’ Me,” “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and “Canadian Railroad Trilogy,” to name just a few. His songs have been covered by Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Neil Young, Rose Cousins, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Anne Murray, Sarah McLachlan, Barbra Streisand, Harry Belafonte, Jane’s Addiction, Lori Cullen, Glen Campbell, Toby Keith, Eric Clapton, and many more.

Gordon Lightfoot, Early Morning Rain

Click on the image to play the Gordon Lightfoot video “Early Morning Rain”

Lightfoot’s songs are poetic in language but realistic in content, and his clear, resonant voice and often minimal backing (of electric bass and acoustic lead guitar) only add to the listening experience. In the mid-1960s, he broke out as a folk songwriter, but his work in the 1970s cemented him as a key figure – alongside James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Carole King, and several others – in the singer-songwriter movement of the era.

While Lightfoot’s more personal songs of romantic relationships gone wrong (like “Sundown,” “If You Could Read my Mind,” and “Carefree Highway”) have always resonated with a global audience, his distinctly Canadian historical-narrative anthems (like “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” and “Canadian Railroad Trilogy”) capture our unique national heritage and spirit, and resound even more strongly in Canada.

Lightfoot was born in Orillia, ON, taught himself to play guitar as a youth, and began performing with a folk group called the Teen Timers, then took up drumming, and singing with a barbershop quartet. After high school, he moved to California to study composition, and sang for awhile in a big-band jazz group. He returned to Toronto, and in 1960, joined a vocal group chorus on the TV show Country Hoedown. Lightfoot formed a singing duo with Terry Whalen, the Two Tones, who played at the Mariposa Folk Festival, and released an album in 1962. Wanting to pursue a solo career, he then moved to the U.K. and hosted an eight-week BBC-TV series, The Country & Western Show. He’d started to play occasional solo dates, and had a hit in Ontario with “Remember Me (I’m the One).”

Gordon Lightfoot, If You Could Read My Mind

Click on the image to play the Gordon Lightfoot video “If You Could Read My Mind”

In 1963, he discovered Dylan and began to write songs in a new, more personal style. Folk duo Ian & Sylvia heard Lightfoot performing in Toronto, and enjoyed his songs enough to add some of them to their repertoire. They also brought Lightfoot to the attention of their (and Dylan’s) manager, Albert Grossman, who signed the young singer-songwriter to a deal. Several artists began to have hits covering his songs, like Peter, Paul & Mary (“Early Morning Rain” and “(That’s What You Get) For Lovin Me,”) and Marty Robbins (“Ribbon of Darkness”). In 1966, Lightfoot signed a recording contract with United Artists, and from 1967 to 1969, he recorded four studio albums and a live LP for them. He became a major star in Canada, releasing hit singles and headlining an annual, sold-out concert series at Toronto’s Massey Hall – where he played more than 170 times, more than any other performer.

In 1970, his contract with United Artists expired, he broke with Grossman, and signed a new record deal with the Reprise label. His first album for them, Sit Down Young Stranger, spawned a long-overdue U.S. hit, “If You Could Read My Mind.” It reached the Top Five of the pop charts, and after the album was re-titled If You Could Read My Mind, the LP also reached the Top 10. In 1971, he released Summer Side of Life, and in 1972, Don Quixote and Old Dan’s Records, but he had to temporarily stop touring when he was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. In 1974, he returned with the album Sundown, which included the title song and “Carefree Highway,” both of which became major hit singles, and his next two albums would also feature pop hits: Summertime Dream included “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” and Cold on the Shoulder included “Rainy Day People.”

Gordon Lightfoot 1970s

Lightfoot in the 1970s

The 1975 “best of” compilation Gord’s Gold featured new re-recordings of 10 songs from his days at United Artists, and 12 of his more recent hits of the day. He continued to record and tour regularly, and his annual run of performances at Massey Hall confirmed his large and loyal audience. Lightfoot began playing benefit shows for various charitable concerns, including world hunger and the environment, and tried his hand at acting, appearing in the 1982 films Harry Tracy and Desperado, and playing a country singer on the American TV series Hotel in 1988.

Lightfoot experienced a creative revival in the 1990s, recording two of his best-reviewed albums in decades, 1993’s Waiting for You and 1998’s A Painter Passing Through, but in 2002 he suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was in a coma for six weeks, and in the hospital for three months. He survived the illness, and in 2004 released Harmony, an album he’d begun working on before he fell ill; by the end of the year, he was back on the road. Lightfoot experienced another health scare in the fall of 2006, when he suffered a minor stroke that cost him some mobility in his right hand, but within six months he was able to play guitar again and continued to perform on a regular basis.

In 2012, Lightfoot released All Live, a collection of recordings from his many appearances at Massey Hall. He toured regularly into the late 2010s, and released the double-disc collection The Complete Singles 1970-1980 in 2019. After discovering a set of demos of unreleased songs, written in 2001 and 2002, Lightfoot recorded 10 of them, accompanied only by his acoustic guitar, for 2020’s Solo –  his first studio album in 16 years.

Lightfoot is survived by his wife, Kim; six children — Fred, Ingrid, Galen, Eric, Miles, and Meredith; and several grandchildren.

On behalf of its more than 185,000 songwriter, composer, screen composer, and publisher members, SOCAN offers its sincerest condolences to Gordon Lightfoot’s family, friends, loved ones, and fans all over the world.

For an in-depth look at Lightfoot’s life and work, play the CBC Gem documentary, Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind.

Gordon Lighfoot, Mariposa Folk Festival, 2022

Lightfoot playing live at the Mariposa Folk Festival in 2022. (Photo: Brad Ardley)

The great Paul Piché will be inducted to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame on May 7, 2023, during the SOCAN Gala held, once again, at Montréal’s La Tohu. Paul Piché has become one of the most influential songwriters on the Québec music scene. A free-thinker, poet, and standard-bearer of protest song, Piché sings as much about love as he does about social issues close to his heart, such as the preservation of rivers, and Québec’s sovereignty.

The induction will be presented by Julie Snyder, while Pierre Kwenders, Ingrid St-Pierre, and Stéphanie St-Jean will perform during the evening.

Piché contributes to our musical heritage with an impressive collection of songs, including several classics – “Heureux d’un printemps,” “Mon Joe,” “Y’a pas grand-chose dans l’ciel à soir,” “L’escalier,” “J’aurai jamais 18 ans,” “J’appelle,” “Car je t’aime,” “Ne fais pas ça” – songs that are as much campfire classics as cover material for young artists.

Released in 1977, his debut album À qui appartient le beau temps? sold more than 100,000 copies, and is now considered one of the key Québec albums of the ’70s. Music heavyweights like Serge Fiori, Alain Lamontagne, Pauline Lapointe, and several members of Beau Dommage helped to create it. His next two albums, L’escalier and Nouvelles d’Europe, were huge popular successes, and Piché followed them up with a live double-album, Intégral, recorded at Montréal’s Le Spectrum, on which he re-visits his entire repertoire.

In 1988, he released Sur le chemin des incendies, an album that gave us some of his most memorable hits such as “J’appelle,” “Un château de sable,” and “Car je t’aime.” The next year, he embarked on his so-called Tour of Montréal, that saw him play one show in each of the five most important venues in the city: Club Soda, Le Spectrum, Théâtre Saint-Denis, Théâtre Outremont, and Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts. Two years later, in addition to concluding his tour with a recording broadcast on Radio-Canada’s Beaux dimanches, Piché participated in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste festivities on the Plains of Abraham and on Île Sainte-Hélène, in front of more than 200,000 people. In the fall of 1993, he released L’Instant, an intimate and mature album where love is front-and-centre, but where the people of his homeland are not to be outdone. Then, in August 1994, he was invited to participate in the special event La Symphonie du Québec, presented during the FrancoFolies de Montréal, where he performed a few songs accompanied by a symphony orchestra.

In June 1996, Piché released the double “Best Of” album L’un et l’autre, which went Platinum; then, on the ninth day of the ninth month of 1999, he released his ninth album, Le Voyage, containing nine songs.

The spring of 2000 saw Piché’s return to the stage; accompanied by guitarist Rick Haworth, bassist Mario Légaré, Jean-Sébastien Fournier on keyboards, and Pierre Hébert on drums, he played a dozen cities in Québec, before taking over Le Spectrum in Montréal and Le Capitole in Québec City.

In 2002, he cycled 550 km to deliver a letter to Québec’s then-Premier, Bernard Landry, whom he successfully convinced not to build mini hydro-electric power plants on Québec’s rivers. Piché is also one of the spokespersons for the Adopt-a-River cause, and he celebrated the International Year of Water with J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle, a politically charged show presented in 2003 at Métropolis in Montréal, alongside Luck Mervil, Richard Desjardins, and Daniel Boucher.

In 2004, he released Paluche 3.14, a bold project that saw some of the biggest names on Montréal’s electro-urban scene re-mix some of Piché’s great classics.

Piché published his first book, Déjà vu, in 2007. Starting from an observation about the cyclical nature of fashion trends, he draws a parallel with the recurrence of political impulses, whether left- or right-leaning. The book’s intent is to clear the ground of the collective unconscious through the passage of time.

In 2009, Piché completed a series of intimate concerts, during which he performed some of the new songs he was considering recording. Love, friendship, death, and social comment are at the heart of these songs, which appeared on his 10th album, Sur ce côté de la Terre. Following the release of what has so far turned out to be his last album of original songs, Piché embarked on herculean six-year tour, that concluded in 2015.

Two years later, he undertook what he called the Célébration des 40 printemps to mark the 40th  anniversary of the release of his first album, À qui appartient le beau temps? He played great shows at the Bell Centre in Montréal and at the Centre Vidéotron in Québec City, alongside artists such as 2 Frères, Safia Nolin, Éric Lapointe, Vincent Vallières, Koriass and Les Trois Accords. The response from the public was such that he was asked to tour throughout Québec. Piché will tour this show for three years, inviting different artists to play and sing with him onstage at each show. The very last performance of this tour was scheduled at Place Bell in Laval on May 20, 2020, but the pandemic forced its postponement; it was then re-scheduled for May 20, 2022.