An in­ter­view with the newly ap­pointed over­seer of the Juno Awards, Mark Co­hon.

Mark Co­hon is the new over­seer of the Juno Awards af­ter lead­ing the Cana­dian Football League for eight years

National Post (Latest Edition) - Financial Post Magazine - - COLUMNS&DEPARTMENTS -

Mark Co­hon’s friends think he’s a pretty lucky guy. Af­ter all, not ev­ery­one who loves sports gets to run a pro­fes­sional league as he did with the Cana­dian Football League for eight years. Near the end of his ten­ure as com­mis­sioner, the Saskatchewan Roughrid­ers pre­sented Co­hon with an elec­tric guitar with the team logo all over it. Turns out, that was a bit of fore­shad­ow­ing since on Sept. 29 he be­came chair­man of the Cana­dian Academy of Record­ing Arts and Sciences (CARAS), which is re­spon­si­ble for the an­nual Juno Awards that celebrate this coun­try’s mu­si­cians and MusiCounts, a mu­sic ed­u­ca­tion char­ity. As with the CFL, Co­hon comes on­board at a dif­fi­cult time. Mu­sic sales are slump­ing and the in­dus­try hasn’t been able to find a dig­i­tal model that works for both the cre­ators and the providers, with the lat­ter still get­ting the up­per hand. But, as Co­hon points out, mu­sic is still an im­por­tant part of our lives and he thinks he can make a dif­fer­ence, par­tic­u­larly in tak­ing the Junos to the next level. Right now, he has more ques­tions than an­swers, but he’s com­ing up with a plan. Just don’t ask him to sing.

FP Why did you want to take this on?

MC I’m pas­sion­ate about this coun­try. When I got a call about this, and it was ac­tu­ally through my con­nec­tion with Phil

King at Bell Media, which was our big­gest part­ner at the CFL, he said, “Mark, we want a new out­side chair for CARAS and we want some­one who is not part of

the mu­sic in­dus­try. We want some­one who can help us re­think and ex­pand the reach of the Junos. You did it with the CFL, you did it with the Grey Cup, do you want to do it with the mu­sic in­dus­try?” I was like, “It sounds awe­some.” There’s a great team here, a good board. I thought it would be a fun or­ga­ni­za­tion to try to make a dif­fer­ence with.

FP You’re join­ing at a very tough time for the mu­sic in­dus­try.

MC There’s clearly been a turn­ing point in the in­dus­try. The artists get mi­cro-pen­nies for the stream­ing of their songs, so what’s im­por­tant for them is be­ing in front of a ra­bid fan base and tour­ing. At the same time, the Junos are the pre­em­i­nent awards in this coun­try that celebrate Cana­dian artists, but are there ways we can grow it, im­prove it and make it an even big­ger event? I looked at that chal­lenge and thought Alan Reid, who is the CEO, has done a great job since he’s been here, but I think I can work with him and the board to make it even bet­ter.

FP How do you en­vi­sion your role?

MC There are great mu­sic ex­ecs around the ta­ble, from man­agers to agents to record la­bels to media peo­ple, so my job is to work with the CEO and the board to say, “Where do we want to be five years from now? Do we want the Junos to con­tinue to tour around the coun­try? Should we build a home for it? What can we do in the 150th year of our coun­try to make the Junos a big­ger part of that cel­e­bra­tion?” My role is to work with the board on strat­egy and also to open the doors to cor­po­rate Canada, dif­fer­ent lev­els of gov­ern­ment, that maybe they haven’t worked with in the past and use my con­tacts out­side the mu­sic in­dus­try to help fur­ther the Junos, Mu­sic Hall of Fame and MusiCounts — the three things that CARAS is re­spon­si­ble for.

FP You were just ap­pointed, but what are your thoughts so far?

MC For me right now, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing learn­ing more about the in­dus­try. It was just like with the CFL: you learn about the in­dus­try, you learn about the op­por­tu­ni­ties, you learn about the is­sues, and then within the first 100 days, you sit down with the team and say, “What should be our plan, what are the things we have to tackle?” At the CFL, I re­mem­ber my first 100-day re­port

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