Canadian tunes marketplace titan Al Mair co-launched Attic Information

Alexander Mair was a titan of the Canadian music sector as an entrepreneur and a leader in the establishment and advancement of unbiased file organizations in this nation.Barry Roden

Al Mair was in his early 20s when he visited the New York’s Globe Honest in 1964. The exposition was officially committed to man’s achievement on a shrinking globe in an expanding universe. As a young person on the quick keep track of in the audio business enterprise, Mr. Mair later on explained the reasonable as “phenomenal.” Not even the skies had been restrictions in the place age.

In 1967, the Torontonian went to Montreal for the Common and International Exposition – Expo 67, as it was frequently identified. Judging it as even far better than the New York exhibition that had wowed him not prolonged prior to, Mr. Mair had an epiphany. “It certain me that Canadians can do just about anything that foreigners can,” he claimed lately, “and they can do it improved.”

The Canadian audio sector at the time was dominated by international-owned file companies and radio was dominated by British and American functions. Mr. Mair himself experienced worked in gross sales and advertising with Capitol and London Information. But by 1967 he was with Compo Business, Canada’s to start with unbiased file firm. 4 many years afterwards, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) imposed airplay laws that, among other matters, opened the doorway for extra Canadian labels that ended up owned and operated unbiased of the majors.

It was in that dawning era that Mr. Mair co-started Attic Information, which turned 1 of the biggest and most prosperous indie labels in Canadian background. From 1974 to 1999, Attic served start the careers of dozens of homegrown artists, such as Anvil, Lee Aaron, Maestro Clean Wes, the Nylons, Teenage Head and Triumph. Mr. Mair’s motto for the label was “think world wide, act community.”

Mr. Mair, a titan of the Canadian audio field as a savvy entrepreneur and an indefatigable figure in the establishment and development of impartial report corporations in this region, died of cancer on Nov. 25 at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Clinic. He was 82.

Terry Wilkins and Mr. Mair, suitable. Mr. Mair co-launched Attic Information, which turned a single of the biggest and most successful indie labels in Canadian historical past.Barry Roden

To pals and loved ones, he was a Facebook fanatic who considered in Buddhism and Hawaiian shirts. Enterprise associates keep in mind an intuitive, intense dealmaker and an advocate for homegrown artists and labels. “He was our chief,” reported Holger Petersen, founder of Edmonton-based Stony Simple Documents.

The grade-college report store clerk who produced it to mogul standing was awarded the Purchase of Canada this summer months. Among the achievements that acquired him the honour was his part in establishing the Canadian Unbiased Songs Affiliation (CIMA), a non-income trade association chartered in 1975 to depict the interests of the English-talking sector of the domestic business.

When Mr. Mair wasn’t operating in a management part with a assortment of associations or acquiring Attic Data off the floor, he seemed immediately after Gordon Lightfoot’s business affairs. From 1968 to 1976, he was normal supervisor of the star troubadour’s Early Early morning Productions. His position description was open up-ended.

In 1969, an American history label produced Early Lightfoot, a compilation of tracks the then-unfamiliar singer experienced recorded lots of several years previously. Because the crooned place tracks have been now out of trend, Mr. Lightfoot requested his enterprise supervisor to invest in up all the albums and damage them. Mr. Mair complied, having an axe to the piles of vinyl in a backyard. “Gordon borrowed the axe from me and took a number of swings himself,” Mr. Mair instructed The World and Mail soon just before his demise.

When Mr. Lightfoot’s friend and company affiliate Bernie Fiedler owed Income Canada a substantial sum, the Sunset hitmaker stepped in and presented to personal loan Mr. Fiedler the cash for the back again taxes. When Mr. Mair encouraged against the transaction, Mr. Lightfoot waved off the concern. “Write the cheque,” he mentioned.

“What about the terms?” Mr. Mair requested his boss. “No phrases,” Mr. Lightfoot replied. “Write the cheque.” Mr. Mair then wondered about the fee of curiosity. “No desire,” Mr. Lightfoot insisted. “Write the cheque.”

To Mr. Mair, a meticulous businessman who commenced his profession as a bookkeeper at Capitol Documents, the payment appeared reckless. But he wrote the cheque.

“I never held that towards Al,” Mr. Fiedler instructed The World. “He did a superior task for Gordon.”

The 1st office environment of Attic Records was in a residence owned by Mr. Lightfoot, but in the kitchen area, not the prime ground. The identify “Attic” was picked out by Mr. Mair and co-founder Tom Williams since it was a position wherever unforeseen treasures could possibly be found. Without a doubt, the business produced millions of bucks by exploring less than-the-radar Canadian acts who sold modestly but steadily. “As lengthy as you didn’t overspend in promoting, you could create a collection of these and do extremely, really very well,” said Kevin Shea, who labored in promotions at Attic.

According to Mr. Shea, his boss was a “chess grasp,” whose moves provided locating worldwide artists who had no distribution promotions in Canada. Licensing information by Jennifer Warnes and Weird Al Yankovic, for instance, paid out off very well for Attic. “If you picked up ample of these forms of projects, hits would arise,” Mr. Shea mentioned.

The label’s eclecticism was mirrored in a 25th-anniversary compilation that incorporated really hard-rock bombast (Triumph’s Magic Power), Leading 40 gold (Katrina & The Waves’ Strolling On Sunshine), a region-crossover hit (the Rovers’ Wasn’t That A Bash?), pure novelty (Unusual Al’s Amish Paradise) and a hip hop blockbuster (Maestro Contemporary-Wes’s Allow Your Spine Slide).

“The magic formula of survival for any history organization is a continuous move of item,” Mr. Mair explained this summer on the podcast Toronto Mike’d. “We took pictures with what we believed would be enjoyment.”

The pleasurable stopped in 1999 when Attic was bought by a consortium headed by political pollster and Tragically Hip co-supervisor Allan Gregg and merged into a firm that arrived to be termed the Tune Corporation. Mr. Mair continue to experienced a job with the Attic label inside the new firm, but he was quickly pushed apart. “He was not incorporated in the meetings they had,” stated Mr. Shea, who documented Attic’s heritage in the liner notes to the label’s 20th-anniversary box set.

Tune Corp. filed for personal bankruptcy in 2001. Master recordings when owned by Attic were sold at auction warehoused product was destroyed. Although Mr. Mair made out effectively fiscally from the sale of Attic, the subsequent collapse of Tune was a key blow.

“It wasn’t how he needed to see it finish,” Mr. Shea explained.

Mr. Mair’s job in the new music enterprise had started in earnest when he was employed by Capitol Records to maintain track of royalty payments. He promptly moved into product sales and then around to advertising. Though his bosses acknowledged his talent, they weren’t rather confident what to make of the substantial-electrical power upstart who drove a pink convertible with a created-in history participant. Any buttoned-down brass who identified Mr. Mair as the long run would not have been erroneous.

Alexander Mair was born in Toronto on Sept. 29, 1940, the only son of Donald Mair and Florence Lillian May perhaps Mair (née Brobyn). His father worked at the agricultural machinery maker Massey Ferguson his mom ran a boarding household. At 10 a long time outdated he started purchasing 78 RPM documents using his lunch income. The initially history the hungry little one acquired was (How Significantly is That) Doggy in the Window? by Patti Website page.

Mr. Mair, pictured with Unusual Al Yankovic, accredited history by Yankovic for release in Canada.Courtesy of Attic Documents

Listening to a Philco radio, he identified distinct-channel stations WUFO in Buffalo and WOWO in Ft. Wayne, Ind. “Both stations opened my ears to a large amount of tunes that was not out there in Canada, at minimum on radio but probably in history stores, if you located the correct report retail outlet,” Mr. Mair told Cashbox Magazine Canada.

He was quickly working at a record retail store himself and manufactured even much more income as DJ at local dances all through the earliest days of rock ‘n’ roll. He skipped school to see Blackboard Jungle, a 1955 movie that showcased the groundbreaking Rock Close to the Clock by Invoice Haley & His Comets. “That just blew me absent,” he later on recalled.

Publish significant college and after a two-12 months stint at Capitol, he worked at the Ontario department of London Documents for a stingy manager who was bizarrely reluctant to give the label’s documents away to radio stations for airplay. In his week-lengthy tenure there, a disappointed Mr. Mair was fired and rehired 2 times and last but not least quit.

A stint at Compo Firm (which a long time later on became Universal Songs) was a considerably greater expertise. There he labored with Mr. Lightfoot – the beginning of an eight-calendar year association that finished two yrs following Mr. Mair co-started Attic. “Gordon could not deal with the level of competition of a single of his individuals advertising and marketing other functions,” Mr. Mair advised Maclean’s journal in an edgy 1978 profile of the singer.

To finance the Attic Records startup, Mr. Mair mortgaged his property and Mr. Williams (who earlier ran promotions at Warner Audio) offered properties he owned. Even further funds from investors elevated $300,000 in overall. Though Mr. Williams was the charismatic general public deal with of the new label, Mr. Mair, with a really serious façade and the title of president and main executive officer, was the brains of the procedure and a skilled, diligent networker on an global amount.

Attic artists earned gold, platinum and multiplatinum awards from Holland, Japan, Canada and the United States. In 1980, the label gained the Canada Export Award from the federal authorities.

Mr. Mair was a business manager with a “curious” managerial model, according to Mr. Shea. “He would go away Write-up-it Notes on computer system displays that study ‘See me.’ We would giggle, but we were being terrified. We didn’t know if we had accomplished anything improper or if we were heading to be congratulated.”

A receptionist remembers Mr. Mair’s problematic handwriting. “At initially I could not make out any of it, not even just one letter,” claimed Velma Barkwell, now a tunes supervisor with East End Music Productions. “Then I began to shift the page all over, tilt it to the appropriate, the remaining, upside down. I was established to learn this language. Sooner or later, I figured out the letters one by a single, and immediately after that it was like remaining equipped to browse code.”

More than the class of a many years-extensive vocation, Mr. Mair performed a distinguished part in a large wide variety of Canadian songs market businesses, volunteering his appreciable abilities to the Modern society of Composers, Authors and Audio Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) the Basis Assisting Canadian Expertise on Recordings (Variable) and the Nationwide Aboriginal Songs Association.

When Mr. Mair was inducted into the Canadian Audio Industry Hall of Fame in 2014, he asked a female label operator to perform the induction speech. “He noticed that there ended up extremely number of gals business people in our sector, and that was a little something he needed to enable adjust,” said Shauna de Cartier, founder and president of Six Shooter Data.

In retirement, Mr. Mair would frequently fulfill previous business enterprise associates for lunch and ice product at the pub Shenanigans in midtown Toronto. “At some level, they took the chocolate sundae off the menu,” said Steve Waxman, onetime Attic vice-president of radio promotion and publicity. “But he held buying it and they held earning it for him and his attendees.”

Mr. Mair was offered his Get of Canada medal in his hospital home days in advance of he died by Ontario Lieutenant-Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell, in recognition of his “visionary and enduring contributions to the Canadian new music sector.”

He leaves his companion, Guiling Han, and her daughter, Rachel his son, Sebastian Mair daughter, Jennifer Mair sister, Lillian Richards granddaughter, Sophie and previous wife, Virginia Mair.