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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 items.
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 LP's.
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 Record Co".
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 by KRLP-0000.

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 and performers.
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" Smith
 
 
  Soapy Smith  
 
"That 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 lead "
 
 
"Ballad of Saopy Smith"
 
     


All music and lyrics © Northland Music Co.