Thanks to some submissions from Wide Mouth Mason fans, we’ve added dates to the Gigography section, including links to fan-generated content for recent gigs at the Shell Theatre’s Performance Series on February 17th and the Thunder Bay Blues Festival on July 9th! If you have content you’ve created that you’d like to see on the site or gig memories you’d like to share, contact the Chef de mission!
Lyrics for Wide Mouth Mason’s 2011 album, No Bad Days, are now on the website. In the future, we may consider adding a fan component from the Wide Mouth Mason Fan Network that would allow fans to contribute and access guitar tabs for various Wide Mouth Mason songs. If this is something that would be of interest to you, let us know by commenting below! Got guitar tabs to contribute? Send it to our Chef de mission!
Songwriters get pitiful amounts as streaming offers tiny royalties
Writers of today’s hits earn as little as $20 for every million streams by online listeners
By Deana Sumanac-Johnson, CBC News
Posted: May 06, 2016 11:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 06, 2016 11:15 AM ET
They’re the brains that create the songs you love, but don’t expect songwriters to be able to make a living by writing hits that get millions of plays on streaming services.
“I’ll get a cheque in the mail for $20 for a million streams, and that just makes absolutely no sense to me,” says Canadian songwriter Luke McMaster, who’s penned hits for the likes of Rihanna and recently had a song he co-wrote get a million streams on Spotify.
McMaster is not alone. Though copyright laws vary from one country to another, the sentiment among songwriters is uniform: a hit song, when streamed, will buy a pizza, but not support a family.
American songwriter Kevin Kadish, who co-wrote the body-positive anthem All About That Bass with Meghan Trainor, complained to the U.S. Congress that he received $5,679 US for a song that had 178 million streams.
Songwriter Michelle Lewis recently revealed that she received a $17 US cheque for co-writing Wings, a hit for the British girl group Little Mix that had three million streams on Spotify.
Because they’re not celebrities in their own right, the songwriters’ problems have received less publicity than, say, Adele or Taylor Swift’s beefs with the streaming services.
“The songwriters have the least sort of leverage to be able to stand up for their rights,” says Toronto-based entertainment lawyer Safwan Javed, who also sits on the board of the Songwriters’ Association of Canada and behind the drum kit of the band Wide Mouth Mason.
“We’re in the Wild, Wild West situation with respect to how music is distributed these days and the role of various players play within that chain.”
Who gets the money?
The “players” he mentions are the streaming services (Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora, etc.), music labels and music publishers that typically represent songwriters and collect royalties on their behalf.
Historically, songwriters and music publishers made a small portion of profits anytime a song was sold or played on the radio. But copyright laws written decades ago could not have predicted the birth of streaming, where music is neither sold nor broadcast in a traditional sense.
Still, streaming services make money from advertising and paid-tier subscriptions — so why is so little of it ending up in the songwriters’ pockets?
“Spotify does contribute 70 per cent of our revenues to rights holders, so that’s a really big part of how we’re paying back into the industry, and we paid over $3 billion to the rights holders,” says Nathan Wiszniak, label relations specialist for Spotify Canada.
But just who the “rights holders” are is open to interpretation. Record labels have managed to strike deals with streaming services that enable them to take a slice of the profit anytime an artist’s song is played. But songwriters and music publishers — owners of the rights to the song’s music and lyrics — are not part of those deals.
“They have no system actually in place, for dealing with and assessing who are their stakeholders, who are the rights holders, who are the writers and who are the publishers,” says Javed.
“They haven’t done a very good job at proactively going out there and figuring out who they need to license the works from and pay for those uses.”
Fair trade music
Different people propose different solutions to the problem. In Canada, songwriters’ associations have petitioned the Copyright Board to adopt laws that better protect the rights of music creators. South of the border, songwriters have launched a $150 million US class-action lawsuit against Spotify as a reimbursement for lost royalties.
But Javed believes a quicker and more meaningful solution is in the hands of music lovers.
“I’ve really lost a lot of faith in the governmental sector doing something to fix this.”
Instead, he’s a proponent of Fair Trade Music, a campaign that seeks to certify streaming services, record labels, even album releases, that fairly compensate all music creators.
Fair Trade Music has tens of thousands of signatories around the world, and Javed believes ethical-minded consumers will gravitate towards it the way they do to fair trade coffee.
But for Luke McMaster, there’s no time to wait. A singer in his own right, he’s now touring to promote his new album — an option for him, but not for many other songwriters.
“It is a function of who you are, it’s almost like breathing, so I’m not going to stop writing songs,” he says.
“But for myself and a lot of my peers, it’s making it a lot more difficult. I have friends in the industry, some of the most talented people I have known, that have just given up.”
This August 19, 2016, Wide Mouth Mason will be taking part in the Vancouver Island Exhibition. Visit the VIEX website for further details! Tentative show time is 9pm.
This summer, Wide Mouth Mason will be visiting Spanish, Ontario’s COME ROCK N ROAR SPANISH music festival on Saturday, August 13, 2016. Tickets for this event, that also features a number of Canadian rock bands, are available through Ticket Break.
Recently confirmed is an upcoming Wide Mouth Mason gig on September 12, 2015 in Port Alberni, British Columbia. Details on the performance will be added to the Tour Dates section of the site as known and confirmed. As always, please check with the venue as to doors and set times!
Just confirmed are two additional dates for Wide Mouth Mason in Gravenhurst, Ontario on July 30 and Edson, Alberta on August 2. Details to the shows will be added as confirmed. Please check with venue as to confirmed ticket prices and set times.
Wide Mouth Mason is pleased to announce two gigs in Summer 2015. In July, Wide Mouth Mason and Big Sugar put on a 2015 version of Big & Wide in Red Deer, Alberta. Come August, find Wide Mouth Mason rocking the fields near Lake Minnedosa, Manitoba! Details on tour dates will be posted in the next little while once known and confirmed.
WMM can’t wait for hometown club show
In a convenient twist of reverse engineering, it’s Wide Mouth Mason’s 2009 album that is setting the tone for how the band is charting its future sound.
Live at Montreux captured the band sizzling in jam mode at the legendary jazz festival, with expansive solos and improvisations. The same approach informed Wide Mouth Mason’s No Bad Days album.
“It was very much a rock format but with a jazz philosophy to it where the framework of the song would be a suggestion,” guitarist Shaun Verreault said recently.
“The songs on No Bad Days are meant to be elastic, so a lot of that can come out.”
The band likes to keep things fluid in its live show. If something from a song they were listening to on the way to a gig sticks, it could well end up as a reference in the middle of their set – surprising each other as much as the audience.
“We call it the shapes we’re throwing each other,” says Verreault. “There’s a little bit of trying to raise eyebrows that you haven’t raised before.”
Verreault admits wondering if the band would remain viable after he and drummer Safwan Javed parted ways with original bassist Earl Pereira and added Gordie Johnson from Big Sugar. But the evolution continues. When Wide Mouth and Big Sugar are on the same bill, they become Big and Wide, with as many as eight players on stage.
Verreault keeps busy in music producing other artists, writing songs with and for other acts and collaborating coast-to-coast from Vancouver with Newfoundland musician Chris Kirby via Skype.
“It makes it so we have a lot of different things to draw on when we get together to play and get together to write.”
Verreault is looking forward to the homecoming and doing a classic Saskatoon club show, its first at the Capitol Music Club.
“I try and get back as much as I can. A bunch of my family is still there.”
He likens it to looking through the window of your elementary school, literally or metaphorically.
And speaking of family, Verreault’s two-year-old daughter Layla seems to have inherited some musical DNA. She already has her own pink Stratocaster, but she really likes playing with her dad’s guitar. Recently, she plugged it into an amp on full blast and, in Verreault’s words, “just railed it.” He thought she’d be scared and crying. Instead, “she was jumping up and down, smiling, and going ‘loud!’”
Wide Mouth Mason
with the Acronyms
Friday at the Capitol
Wide Mouth Mason has confirmed a September 26, 2014 gig at The Capitol Music Club, a venue situated in the hometown of Wide Mouth Mason’s Shaun Verreault and Safwan Javed… Saskatoon, Saskatchewan! Opening for Wide Mouth Mason will be the Acronyms, with Wide Mouth Mason currently set to take the stage around 11:30 p.m. that evening. Check with The Capitol for further details on tickets, doors, and set times.
Just confirmed is an upcoming Wide Mouth Mason live performance at KerrFest 2014, a street festival held at Kerr Village in Oakville, Ontario. This all-ages event runs all day, with Wide Mouth Mason’s performance currently scheduled for sometime in the evening hours. As always, Wide Mouth Mason asks that interested attendees please check with event organisers for specific set start and end times.