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October 31, 2012

Feature CBC champions new medium for Canadian music

Canada’s public broadcaster is working to stay relevant in the age of digital music. Brendan Kergin

Ω Arts & Entertainment Editor CBC may be the grandfather of broadcasters in Canada, but it’s not quite ready to yell at kids to get off its damn lawn. In fact, with CBC Music, it seems to be inviting kids over to its lawn to sit around and listen to music.

The website hosts 30,000 artists and 150,000 songs, according to Pratt. What makes CBC Music different than something like MySpace is not the amount, quality or genres of those uploading music, it’s that there is curation. “I think we saw a pretty unique spot for ourselves in the marketplace,” Pratt said. Something we feel CBC has had a core strength at, in a lot of different areas throughout our history, is

genres of music who are choosing all the songs and scheduling them,” Pratt said. “It’s not a random mix of songs; it’s very much a curated and programmed station.” Radio 3

Radio 3 is still a big part of CBC Music. Started in 2000 as a web-only broadcaster, it has been constantly evolving. Now What is it? broadcasting on SiriusXM and podcasting, it had The online music been the preferred service launched in a site where artists February, though uploaded their muits roots go back sic. Now it plays a further. more auditory role In that short pewith shows and riod of time it has hosts. Craig Norris integrated its past is one of those onincarnations into a air personalities, much more varied and has a band of and vibrant online his own. music scene. —Craig Norris, CBC Music “When someSteve Pratt, dithing new comes rector of digital along, people wormusic for CBC and ry about new things, you know? Radio 3, said the goal of the site context and curation.” He added that if you look at ‘Oh, I don’t understand this.’ and service is to connect Canadian fans with the music in where the music universe is go- Like when CBC Music came a unique way – moving away ing, the services that are devel- along and everyone thought it from traditional broadcasting to oping are simply unlimited juke- was swallowing Radio 3, but that wasn’t really the case,” Norris something only the internet can boxes. “One of the biggest challenges said. “There wouldn’t be a CBC deliver. “We have 48 web radio sta- with that is figuring out what Music without Radio 3.” Pratt agreed, describing Radio tions on there, whereas we have to listen to and what music is one [CBC] Radio 2,” Pratt said. good… It’s our job as CBC to 3 as a place for CBC to figure “So we can’t please everybody help Canadians make sense of out how to be relwith one radio station. We have that and find the good stuff and evant as a public broadcaster onRadio 3, which is another really provide some context to it.” Radio 3 is the central stream to line. terrific music service, which is “Radio 3 has designed to focus around Cana- the station with hosts like Craig Norris or Grant Lawrence play- been a huge, dian independent music. “For lots of people that’s won- ing bigger artists in the bigger huge part of backbone indie music the derful, but genres, which of CBC Music. if that’s not includes sing- Radio 3 has had your thing e r - s o n g w r i t - quite a long hiswe haven’t ers and gui- tory now: it’s been able to tar, bass and over 10 years of do anything d r u m - b a s e d reinventing itself else about it. over and over,” he said. bands. There’s been Norris said, as a musician, he There are a whole bunch nearly 50 addi- sees Radio 3 in a different way. of music that’s “I think about my band, and I tional streams important to covering less think ‘Holy sh*t, if Radio 3 had Canadians that popular styles existed when we were starting we haven’t such as ba- 22 years ago, oh my god, things been able to roque, classic would have been so much differshowcase until soul and ab- ent,’” Norris said. we had CBC “We will never take credit for original. Music for it.” “The rest anyone’s success, but there are While CBC of [the online bands that will tell you, like Two Music is relaservices] are Hours Traffic, or even guys like tively new, it’s m u s i c - o n l y Dan Mangan, who no one was had a strong CBC’s Steve Pratt channels, but playing outside of campus radio. start with muthere are ex- Campus radio is great regionalsicians up- —PHOTO COURTESY FLICKR perts in those ly, but we’re like a campus radio loading music. CREATIVE COMMONS

“...we’re like a campus radio station that is on steroids, in a good way.”

station that is on steroids, in a good way.” R3-30 is a weekly countdown show hosted by Norris that includes the most popular songs on CBC Music using internal metrics, some interview clips and a second countdown discussed online the week before. “A chart show is a pretty great concept because you know you’re getting the best, the top 30 songs,”

Norris said. “The music we play on the R3-30, by and large now, it’s the music that is more accessible. It’s a really good gateway to getting into maybe some more adventurous music. “And to that end it has been gangbusters.” Music now

Neither man takes credit for the music that’s being produced right now. Both admit CBC Music wouldn’t have good songs to play were it not for the people creating that auditory art. “It starts with … the advent of highquality home re cording and the fact —Craig Norris, CBC Music that now bands can record pretty kickPratt said. “If you want an entry ass sound and records with amp point coming into a world of mu- simulators and mike simulators sic that you may not be familiar and they can record those in their with, being able to hear a top-30 is rehearsal hall,” Norris said. “That a great way to bring people in the alone is going to keep this sort of flow of creativity. It’s so much easdoor.” Norris agreed, suggesting that ier to work.” “Personally, I feel like we are the concept of a countdown is something that is easier for new in a really nice golden age of Canadian music where there is just listeners to get into. “The format of a countdown is a ton of great stuff coming out very mainstream FM radio. To that from all over Canada in really end it’s really accessible. People wide variety of genres and a lot go ‘Oh, I know what this is,’ even of it even defies being able to put though they may not necessarily it in a traditional genre,” Pratt know any of these artists or songs, said. “It’s just really creative at least it feels like they get it,” work and amazing music.”

“Personally, I feel like we are in a really nice golden age of Canadian music.”

ON THE COVER: Alanna Bekkering fires a ball into the box during her PACWEST player of the year-earning season. The team is now off to the national championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I. trying to improve on their fourth-place finish of last year. — PHOTO BY ADAM WILLIAMS

October 31, 2012  

The October 31, 2012 edition of The Omega

October 31, 2012  

The October 31, 2012 edition of The Omega