THINK TANK: The North American College and Community Radio Chart (NACC)

For as long as I remember I’ve loved Radio. As a kid I used to call up my local Top 40 DJ to request songs and after high school I went to a broadcasting college. In my sophomore year I staged a 97 hour-long-broadcast to raise money for charity. It involved me staying awake for almost a week while playing music, organizing interviews and collecting donations. I loved every minute of it and it became so successful it was picked up by local TV outlets. I’ll never forget watching Tom Gibney refer to me as “the marathon man” on the 6 o’clock news. Why did I bother with all of that? Well, mostly because I thought it would be fun. I love radio and I love a challenge. I was also 18 at the time and pretty much anything seems like a good idea at that young age. [Read more...]

THINK TANK: Developing Artist Programs

There are some trends we're not quite sure about, like the current fascination with koji rice, virtual reality headsets and tie dyed shirts (yes, sadly, they're back again). One trend we really like here at Frontside is that of the various developing artist programs that are popping up seemingly everywhere at Canadian radio. [Read more...]

THINK TANK: What is Hit / Non-Hit?

Sitting around the Frontside office recently, the topic of the old CRTC hit/non-hit regulation came up, and more specifically, the question of what it actually was and why it still exists for a select few stations across the country.
But first, let's get a little history lesson happening on FM radio and how the current situation came to be.   In 1973, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission floated out the proposal that English-language commercial FM stations should be distinctive from what was being offered on AM. After what, one would have to assume, would be much bureaucratic wrangling, new policies were finally announced in January 1975 that would ultimately change the way FM stations were allowed to operate starting that September.   Some of the new rules that Program Directors and Music Directors had to take into consideration were: [Read more...]

Think Tank: The Next #1

Here’s a fun fact. As of Monday August 18th, 2015. It’s been 78 weeks (19 months) since a Canadian Artist has been #1 at Active Rock in Canada. During the same time period, 5 different Canadian Artists have spent a combined 15 weeks at #1 in the USA. — Theory of a Deadman “Angel” - 1 week - (peaked #11 Canada) — Three Days Grace “I Am Machine” - 6 weeks - (peaked #5 Canada) — Nickelback “Edge of a Revolution” - 2 weeks - (peaked #3 Canada) — Three Days Grace “Painkiller” - 4 weeks - (peaked #3 Canada) — Pop Evil “Torn to Pieces” - 2 weeks - (peaked #5 Canada) (Full disclosure, Frontside works with both Theory Of A Deadman and Pop Evil) Back in Canada we’ve come close a few times since Sam Roberts “We’re All In This Together” topped the charts. We’ve seen the following hit #2: The Glorious Sons “White Noise” (March 2014), The Trews “What’s Fair Is Fair” (May 2014), Theory Of A Deadman “Drown” (July 2014), The Glorious Sons “Lightning” (March 2015), and this week, The Glorious Sons “The Contender” hit #2 as well. (Full disclosure, Frontside works with both Theory Of A Deadman and The Glorious Sons) Why is this the case? [Read more...]

THINK TANK: Market Focus – Toronto

With so many people set to descend on Toronto for Canadian Music Week, we thought it would be a good time to examine the Hogtown radio scene again. It's been a while since we last drilled down on some of the specifics in the market (July 2012 to be exact), and with so many changes happening in the intervening years, a refresher seemed apropos about now. [Read more...]

Think Tank: The American Active Rock Influence, or Lack Of…

Traditionally speaking, the US Active Rock radio chart had a huge influence on what was played on Canada’s Active Rockers. But in the 4th quarter of 2014, there is as big a disparity as we’ve seen in recent memory. As of this week’s chart (Nov 3rd) only 30% of the records on the USA Top 30 even appear on the Canadian Top 30. That’s 10 songs total that are crossing the border, and not surprisingly, they are songs that belong to some household names like Foo Fighters, AC/DC, Nickelback, Three Days Grace, Seether, Black Keys, Slash, Bush and Weezer. Really, the only outlier is UK newcomer Royal Blood with their breakout single “Figure It Out.” At a glance, it might seem preposterous for that to be the case, but upon further review the pieces fit together pretty well. For starters there are some songs that are simply transitioning their way to the Canadian chart. Godsmack, Vance Joy and [Read more...]

Is It Can-Con?

It’s the question I’ve been asked at least once a week for the 15+ years I’ve been in the promotion game. “Is my single Can-Con?” The answer I generally give is. Possibly. The reason I’m always hesitant to simply concede an affirmative Can-Con status based on the loose information a manager or label provides me stems from a general misunderstanding of how that status is reached within the music industry. My misgivings are generally rebutted with “it’s close enough, no?” But in the Con-Con game, close enough doesn’t cut it. Here’s why. If you tell a radio station that a song is Can-Con and they play it under that guise, they’ll count it as such in their “promise of performance” report to the CRTC. As you know, the very existence of the Canadian Content law is for radio stations to play a minimum of the percentage of Can-Con they promised in their broadcast license application to the CRTC (which is renewed, on average, every 7 years). If a station fails to meet that clause in their license they face fines and possibly revocation. As you can imagine, like any of us with laws in society, stations generally play exactly the required amount of Can-Con, with perhaps a razor-thin buffer. Just like how you drive faster than the speed limit, but not quite fast enough to get you a ticket (hopefully). [Read more...]

What Went Where — Wrapping-up the Bell / Astral Asset Sale Extravaganza

Over the past year-and-a-half, we've thought -- and written -- about the then-impending ownership changes that were looming across the country (The Evolving Landscape of Canadian Radio Ownership from October 2013, along with the earlier February 2013 piece Changes Are Coming). Let's have a look at how things played out. First, a quick recap to freshen the memory: Bellmedia had paid $3.4-billion for the assets of Astral Media (various radio outlets & specialty TV channels) but needed to shed ten radio stations in order to stay within the CRTC's market ownership guidelines, while Newcap Radio announced their plans to sell off their Alberta-based holdings during the same time-frame. The fates of dozens of stations (and their staff) were up-in-the-air. Even though Newcap Radio eventually mothballed their Alberta divestiture plans (reportedly unable to find interested buyers), they did become a major participant in the Bell asset sell-off, picking up five properties in Toronto and Vancouver for the tidy sum of $112-million. The big question now becomes, what are they going to do with their new assets? [Read more...]


Our semi-regular series of market explorations continues this month with a look at Halifax, the largest population centre in the Maritimes and the 13th largest radio market in Canada, with 10 commercial stations that, according to the CRTC's 2012 Statistical and Financial Summaries report, generate $21.7-million in revenue Perhaps one of the more unique pieces of radio trivia about Halifax is that since 2009, all 22 of the commercial, non-commercial and campus signals servicing the region broadcast on the FM band only. While AM is still an active and ongoing concern elsewhere across the country, the wholesale migration away from AM in Halifax may be the the way of the future elsewhere, especially in light of the increasing operational and maintenance costs associated with keeping aging AM transmitters on the air. [Read more...]