Recorded music is important because it evokes human emotions.

Sound reproduction has shifted from mechanical to electromagnetic to digital forms

Music videos have revitalized the sagging recording industry.

The recording industry depends on radio to promote new music

Payola, censorship and home dubbing are continuing critical issues for the recording industry.


Since 1970 the CRTC has required that Canadian stations play 30 percent Canadian content between the hours of 6a.m. and midnight.

At first there was not much Canadian content to play.

It was hard to fight the machinery of large U.S. Record distributors.

Canadian music has only recently been able to escape this negative mythology.

Also, the 30% CanCon requirement was not consistently measured at all times of the day.

In 1994, a two-year study showed that most Canadian music was being buried after 10 p.m. on weeknights and early in the morning on weekends when fewer people listened to the radio.

Songs by America, Jennifer Warnes, Joe Cocker and Rod Stewart are considered Canadian because these singers record music written by Canadians.

Bryan Adams songs from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves "Everything I Do, I Do It For You, and other songs on his album Waking Up The Neighbours were not considered Canadian because he co-wrote them with a British song writer.

CRTC amended the Canadian content requirement to allow Canadian singers to work and write with foreigners, but only applied to songs written after 1991.

Have the Canadian content requirements worked?

The regulations had two general objectives:

  1. to promote Canadian culture
  2. to help strengthen the Canadian music industry.

So what does the lyrical content of CanCon say about Canadian culture?

The Canadian music industry is stronger today than it was in 1970.

There has been a rise in popularity of Canadian artists and songs throughout the 1990s.

But a closer analysis of the songs shows that these songs had fewer Canadian signifiers in the lyrics.

EXAMPLE: The Wreck of the Edmund Fitgerald by Gordon Lightfoot

Shania Twain, Alanis Morissette.


Culturally the words and music of a song signify something outside of themselves.

Music is a potent form of human expression that can mobile hearts and minds.

Thin about national anthems, religious hymns and love songs.

For better or worse, these powerful effects are magnified by the technology of sound recording.

Released in 1984, "We Are The World" was the fastest climbing record of the decade. Four million copies were sold in six weeks. Profits fromn the record, produced by big-name entertainers who volunteered, went to the USA for the Africa project.

Within six months $50 Million in medical and financial aid was en route to drought-stricken parts of Africa.

Canadian artists formed Northern Lights and recorded "Tears Are Not Enough" in the spring of 1985 to help.

The power of recorded music is not a recent phenomenon.

WW1 "Over There", and other records reflected enthusiasm for American involvement.

There were also dozens of anti-war songs.

Our own Guess Who "American Woman" symbolized Canada's stormy relationship with the U.S.

Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" was environmentally conscious before it became the norm.


Elvis Presley helped pave the way for American racial integration.



Recorded music has the power to move people to war, peace and love.

It also reflects human values.

The Persian Gulf war even had protest music. The Rolling Stones "Highwire", a single released two weeks ahead of the U.S. led ground war in Iraq, blamed the war on the industrialized world's greed for oil.


The Recording Industry, as with all mass media, has been built on technological advances and breakthroughs, beginning with Thomas Edison's mechanical phonograph. Today, the technology is all electrical and digital.

Vibration-Sensitive Recording

1877 Thomas Edison applied for a patent for a talking machine, using the trade name, Phonograph, which was taken from the Greek Words meaning "to write to sound".

Electromagnetic Recording

Magnetic Tape was developed in Germany and used to broadcast propaganda in WW11.

In 1945 American troops brought the t4echnology home and Ampex began building recording and payback machines.

Vinyl Recordings and Microgrooves

Peter Goldmark, chief engineer at Columbia Records, was listening to a 78-rpm recording of Brahms's Second Piano Concerto. The concerto was divided into 6 discs, 12 sides. Fed up with flipping discs, Goldmark calculated a slower spin with narrower grooves.

1948 the long-playing record was introduced which contained up to 25 minutes of music.

The Stereo and Digital Revolutions

For 101 years, the heart of sound recording was analog recording where continuous waves were inscribed physically on a disc.

Digital recording revolutionized the recording industry by capturing sound waves at millisecond intervals. Then each wave was logged in computer-language as an isolated on-off binary number.


"Volatile" describes the economic history of the music industry.


The recording industry received a big boost in 1913 when a dance craze hit North America.

Then WW1 songs became popular, further fueling demand.

The boom continued through the early 1920s, but 1924 sales of records and record players dropped 50% as radio stations drew customers away.

Then came the 1929 stock market crash. The jukebox helped keep the recording industry and keep the public interested in recorded music.


1950s produced stars like Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash and The Beatles pushed the record industry to unprecedented profitability.

Record sales outpaced even movies by the mid-1970s.


Rock in Roll in Canada consisted of Paul Anka and Burton Cummings, Neil Young, Blood Sweat and Tears, Joni Michell.

1990s Byran Adams, Shania Twain and Alanis Morisette.


1996 MARKED THE 25TH Anniversary of the Juno Awards, named after Pierre Juneau, who was head of the CRTC when Canadian content regulations were implemented.

Every year in October, nomination forms are sent out to members of the Canadian Association of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) asking for nominations in a number of categories.


Record companies released extraordinary hits in the late 1970s.

The "Rumours" album by Fleetwood Mac sold 13 million copies.

EXAMPLE: "Grease" and "Saturday Night Fever" did spectacularly.

1979 produced no megahits and teenagers were plugging into video games.

In addition, n oil shortage sparked huge increases in the price of petroleum, a raw material needed in record manufacturing.

Many companies had over-expanded, and now had to cut back.

The industry retrenched by:

  1. Layoffs.
  2. Contracts became rarer
  3. Focused Marketing releasing fewer records
  4. Fewer artists under contract
  5. Inventories were reduced throughout the distribution chain.


SOURCE: Abridged version of Chapter three from:

Vivian, John and Maurin, Peter. (1997). The Media of Mass Communication. Allyn and Bacon Canada. Scarborough, Ontario.