|| Northland Music Publishing
Co. is a member of SOCAN,
which is a legal entity association organized to protect the interests
of Canadian songwriters and publishers, and to collect public performance
royalties pursuant to the Canadian Copyright Act; and is also a member
of CMRRA, who manage the issuance of mechanical licenses and royalty
collections for Northland Music's recorded catalogue of works. Northland
Music was originally set in motion to hold, promote, and manage Al
Oster copyrighted musical compositions, and as a spin-off, Tundra,
Klondike, Alkon, and Frontier were the record label companies organized
to produce, promote and market Northland Music Co. recorded products.
Subsequently Northland Music also contracted other song writer's material
in to it's catalogue of works, such as some of Hank Karr's compositions,
Vern Charlton, Shirley Field, Lucy Dixon, Jimmy Duplesis, etc.
Following is some interesting history pertaining
to Al Oster's development of Northland Music and its predecessor Klondike
Record Co. in his own words. Unlike other young eager artists
Al has always retained control and all rights to his original music.
"When I first started writing songs back in the early 1940's
I dreamed of having a record playing on a juke box somewhere in a
restaurant. I wrote several songs but didn't know how to go about
putting them on a record. The first song I had published was called
"After Tonight" and it was published by a USA publishing
company after I sent the $25.00, and it was recorded by an African
blues singer. They sent me a horrible 45 RPM record of the song, which
I happily lost somewhere. No royalties were ever paid. Then I wrote
several cowboy songs in Alberta while singing as "Calgary Slim"
in Calgary. But I didn't know how to get them recorded. I knew how
to get them into a publishing company, but since I never received
any money from the publishing company for "After Tonight"
I was somewhat concerned about letting any more songs go. I was warned
about "song sharks", and that made me wary of signing any
more publishing contracts, and giving money to them for the glory
of having a signed contract in my hands.
Then came "The Yukon". I wrote several songs and went down
to Vancouver to talk to the owner of a well established record company.
He liked my songs but said they were too localized, being about the
Yukon, and he might have difficulty in recovering his investment.
There were two songs that he was very interested in, and he wanted
me to be at a certain place the next morning for a recording session
with Ray Griff playing organ accompaniment. I wasn't impressed with
that kind of musical arrangement. I didn't show up.
I then went to Empire Music Publishing Company to see about them publishing
some of my songs, because that's where Keray Regan was getting his
published. The manager wanted all of the songs, so I agreed to sign
over two which were "Next Boat" and "Midnight Sun Rock".
While there I also picked up the Yukon agency representative for all
"Fender musical instruments" and other wholesale musical
The I went and rounded up some old musician friends I knew in Vancouver
being Walt's Frank, Bill Mallet, and a drummer, and I bought a good
Tanberg tape recorder and microphone, and we went to Walt's home and
recorded all the songs that were on my first LP album called "Yukon
Gold". I took the original tape recordings from the Tandberg
recorder and went to a recording studio on Broadway in Vancouver and
converted the Tandberg recordings to a 15 IPS master recording, and
I also bought the Berlant Concertone that I still have, and on which
I recorded all my CBC radio shows in Whitehorse, and some of my later
I took the 15 IPS master back to Whitehorse and tried to figure out
what to do with them. I asked the CBC radio station manager and he
thought I should create my own independent recording label for a start
and pay for the first pressing myself, and then if everything went
well I should try to contact a record company. He suggested the LP
be called "Yukon Gold" because of the song "Yukon Gold",
which he considered to be an excellent song. He also advised me to
contact BMI Canada Ltd to register my songs with, and then when a
radio station played the songs I would get "performance royalties"
for the play. So I gave it quite a bit of thought and talking it over
with Mary, and we decided to call our recording company "Klondike
I then had to find a place that would make records and so from the
RPM music magazine publisher which I subscribed to I found several
places in Toronto, one of which was Quality Records. I contacted them
and was very lucky in making contact with someone in the firm that
really helped me a lot. I placed an order with him for 1000 LP's in
the name of Klondike Records, and we sold over 15,000 Yukon Gold LP's.
Klondike Records also produced "Northland Ballads", "Alaska
Star 49", and the "Alaska" double LP. We also formed
"Alkon Records" in Oregon and Washington, USA to handle
USA and Alaska sales.
Then after moving from Yukon to BC I changed the name of my recording
company to "Frontier Records", because I planned to write
songs about BC and Canada legends, and I thought the name Frontier
would be more appropriate. That's why my recordings and CD's now have
FRCD or FRLP as prelude letters to the CD production number, which
is 02(year) and 07 (production number). Before they were preceded
Northland Music Publishing Co.
Music publishing is a very complicated and difficult form
of entity to zero in on. When I first got into the music business
I knew absolutely nothing about it. I wrote a letter, which I still
have, as well as the reply, to the Canadian Music Publishers Association
asking information on how to form a publishing company, and their
very brief reply was "We don't provide that information. We
suggest you contact a lawyer". So I contacted BMI Canada and
they sent me the application forms to join their organization as
Northland Music and then I would receive the "publisher"
royalty as well as the "writer" royalties from them, and
I could also sign up other artists in my publishing company, and
get a percentage of their royalties as well. I had joined BMI after
writing "Midnight Sun Rock" and "Next Boat",
and have been a continuing member since around 1958.
And so Northland Music was born in 1960, and it controls the royalties
for all of my songs except for the two assigned to Empire Music.
As well it manages the copyrights of works by several other writers
I could write on and on about the learning problems with publishing
and recording contracts, and copyrights. I never saw a lawyer about
copyrights. I learned how to do it myself, both USA and Canada.
I bought books on music publishing, and sent for the Copyright Act
of Canada and the USA and read it several times to make sure everything
was right. Pretty dry reading I'll tell you."
|above: the death of Jefferson Randolph "Soapy"
night there was a meeting Frank Reid was standing guard
Soapy came to see them and play his highest card
He wondered how he'd come back..alive or maybe dead
He knew that they'd be there waiting to fill him full with
"Ballad of Saopy Smith"