Music

In Canada: Thomas Rhett Hosting CCMAs and ‘Houdini’ Co-Writer Wins SOCAN Song Award

Country music is having a major moment in Canada, and the CCMA Awards is getting one of the genre’s biggest stars. Thomas Rhett will host the Canadian Country Music Association’s annual award ceremony on Sept. 14, 2024 at Rogers Place in Edmonton. And the American star will be joined by a homegrown star in the making, Alberta singer and actor MacKenzie Porter.

This year’s awards take place during a big time in Canadian country, with major festivals popping up across the country and new bridges being made with Nashville.

In addition to topping the Billboard Country Airplay chart 20 times, Rhett also has 16 No. 1 hits on Canadian country radio, so he’s a natural choice to cross the border to host Canada’s biggest country music awards.

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“The way Canadian fans have embraced me throughout my career is something I never take for granted,” Rhett tells Billboard Canada. “Every time we come there, we are blown away by the energy they bring and the love they have for country music.”

Travelling between Canada and Nashville, Porter is also making a big splash on both sides of the border. With 900 million streams already, she’s got a new album, Nobody’s Born With a Broken Heart, coming out on April 26 on Big Loud Records.

“I personally think this year is going to be the best show yet,” she continues. “Canadian country music has never been better, and having the show in Alberta, home of country music, feels very fitting!”

CCMA president Amy Jeninga says they carefully selected the hosts “based on their significant contributions to the Canadian country music community,” with Rhett’s major Canadian fanbase playing “a crucial role in our country music ecosystem.” Plus, two of his band members are Canadian musicians, she notes. 

Porter, meanwhile, is a great representative of Alberta’s country music scene, she says. She’s also a woman making waves in a genre that is typically overrepresented by male artists. 

Nominations and programming have yet to be announced, but the CCMAs will get a lead-in from Country Music Week 2024, which kicks off in Edmonton on Wednesday, September 11.

The CCMAs will air on Saturday, September 14 at 8 p.m. ET on CTV, CTV.ca and the CTV app. – Richard Trapunski

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Canadian Songwriter Tobias Jesso Jr. Earns SOCAN Award for Dua Lipa Hit

Tobias Jesso Jr. made a small splash as a solo recording artist, including a spot on the 2015 Polaris Music Prize shortlist for his album Goon, but he’s spent close to the last decade focused on writing for others. He’s seen major international success, including winning the first ever Grammy for Songwriter of the Year. 

Jesso Jr. now has a huge repertoire of hits, contributed to songs by Adele, Miley Cyrus, Harry Styles, XXXTENTACION and more. Last year, he sold his goldmine catalog to Hipgnosis Song Management

Now, he’s getting some recognition in his home country again, specifically from Canadian performance rights and royalty-collecting organization SOCAN. On April 5 in L.A., Jesso received a SOCAN No. 1 Song Award, for co-writing Dua Lipa’s “Houdini.” This smash hit topped the Billboard Hot Dance/Electronic Songs chart for 14 weeks, starting in Nov. 2023, and it has earned more than 380 million plays on Spotify, and more than 104 million views on YouTube. – David Farrell & Richard Trapunski

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More Than 10% of the Most-Streamed Songs in Canada are by Canadian Artists

According to a new report, of the 1,000 most-streamed artists in Canada, 113 are Canadian. Laying a Foundation for Success, published by Music Canada — the association representing major music labels in Canada — takes a look at Canadian streaming data to determine whether Canadian artists are getting heard. Studying the 10,000 most popular artists in Canada in 2022, economist Will Page finds that 889 were Canadian. Of the 10,000 most popular songs, 1,013 were Canadian.

At the upper echelons of popularity, the trend holds: roughly 10% of the thousand most-streamed artists and songs were Canadian. Canadian artists like Tate McRae and Charlotte Cardin outranked popular American stars like Selena Gomez on that list. Other Canadians amongst the 1,000 most-streamed artists include country singer Josh Ross, Punjabi-Canadian artist Karan Aujla, pianist Alexandra Stréliski and singer Lauren Spencer Smith.

“In a world where fans can listen to any artist, from any country in the world, and with nearly every recorded song at their fingertips, listeners are choosing Canadian music,” says Music Canada CEO Patrick Rogers.

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Of the 889 Canadian artists amongst the top 10,000, roughly 75% perform in English, while 20% perform in French. Page notes that the third most-popular language segment is Punjabi music, which is also the fastest-growing music language in the country, and accounts for 3% of the 889 musicians.

Recorded music revenues in Canada have doubled since 2014, when Spotify launched, and are now as high as they were before the launch of iTunes in 2004. Page notes that according to consultancy MIDIA, Canadian recorded music revenues could soon hit a billion dollars for the first time.

The government is preparing to implement Bill C-11, the Online Streaming Act, which became law last year, and Page’s report recommends some policy changes. One is the “Mandate, Don’t Dictate” approach, which would entail moderate government interventions such as requirements that Canadian artists be indexed highly on playlists, or that streaming services pay into the Canadian music industry in the same way as radio broadcasters.

Ultimately, for every one stream within Canada, Page writes, Canadian artists are getting roughly 10 abroad. Any government music strategy should focus on helping Canadian music thrive on the international stage, he says. – Rosie Long Decter

Last Week In Canada: Tegan and Sara Lead Campaign Against Anti-Trans Policies

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