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To celebrate the launch of Windows10, Microsoft is launching a really exciting campaign, #UpgradeYourWorld. I’m really excited to have my very first guest blog post on this site – my 12-year-old daughter Hannah Alper has been asked to help spread the word because everything about #UpgradeYourWorld fits with my, and her, vision of changing the world.

Here it is, and take it away, Hannah.

My blog and everything that has grown out of it, is founded on the idea that we can all make a difference every single day and that all of the things that we can do – big and small – add up make a difference in the world. Through my work with Free The Children and We Day, I have grown to understand that change is urgent locally and globally. When we come together as a community to share and celebrate the change that we are making, we inspire others to join us in their own way. These things are all part of Microsoft’s #UpgradeYourWorld.

#UpgradeYourWorld is a new year-long initiative to celebrate those who inspire and empower others, led by Microsoft’s vision to help people achieve more through technology and in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.

The #UpgradeYourWorld initiative has a few different components and ways for you to get involved and share the ways in which you are taking action to #UpgradeYourWorld.

1. Social Media

Share what you are doing to make a difference in the world – locally or globally – on social media. Remember – everything makes a difference and no act is too small to share. Are you working with an organization that helps people? Do you do random acts of kindness daily? Share them and don’t forget to use the #UpgradeYourWorld hashtag and tell @WindowsCanada  so that all of our actions add up. Microsoft will bring a few of these ideas to life in the coming months.

2. Help choose #10

Microsoft is investing ten million dollars to support global non-profit organizations. They have selected 9: CARE, Code.org, Keep a Child Alive, Malala Fund, Pencils of Promise, Save the Children, Special Olympics, The Global Poverty Project, and The Nature Conservancy. They are looking to us to choose #10.  Starting July 29th, you can vote for the 10th non-profit to receive $500,000 in funding from Microsoft here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/upgradeyourworld/

3. Go Local

In addition to these global non-profits, starting in September, Microsoft will be crowdsourcing nominations for 10 non-profits in each of the following 10 countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. The 100 local winners will each receive a cash investment to support their work to upgrade the world. Stay tuned and share your pick to receive this generous help.

This is a great video from Microsoft to launch #UpgradeYourWorld. I love this: Making our neighbourhoods, communities…there has never been a better time to make a difference. #UpgradeYourWorld


Cool fact: Around the world, tens of thousands of Microsoft employees will participate in the Upgrade Your World initiative by taking a day off to volunteer to upgrade their community, many of them on July 29, in celebration of the Windows 10 launch.

I’m a big user of Windows for school and for my blog, presentations and speeches and I’m excited about the new Windows 10. There are a lot of cool new features and the upgrades are based on feedback and input that they have collected from more than 5 million Windows Insiders. It’s a free upgrade if you’re already using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Phone here: http://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/windows/features


Cards Against Humanity announced today that it has partnered with the prestigious Chicago Design Museum to release the “Design Pack,” an expansion pack of 30 fully-illustrated cards created by world-class designers.

The 30 contributing designers interpreted George Carlin’s infamous 1972 monologue, “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television” for the pack; they include: Milton Glaser (I ♥ NY), Susan Kare (the Apple Macintosh), Erik Spiekermann (MetaDesign), Paula Scher (The Daily Show), Art Paul (Playboy), Debbie Millman (Design Matters), Scott Thomas (Obama for America), Jessica Hische (Daily Drop Cap), Matthew Hoffman (You Are Beautiful), and legendary printmakers including Jay Ryan, Yann Legendre, Olly Moss, Mike Mitchell, and Sonnenzimmer.

“In our increasingly politically correct culture where the desire to protect people’s sense of identity is paid for by reducing people’s freedom of expression, I commend any chance an artist gets to fully express themselves,” said Kelly Carlin, George Carlin’s daughter, before adding: “This shit is great!”

All profits from the Design Pack will benefit the Chicago Design Museum, a grassroots, not-for-profit gallery that exhibits contemporary design. Similar non-profit packs by Cards Against Humanity have raised nearly three million dollars for non-profit partners DonorsChoose.org, the Wikimedia Foundation, and the Sunlight Foundation.

“The Chicago Design Museum has been my dream for the last five years,” said museum co-founder Tanner Woodford. “With this pack, we will become a sustainable part of Chicago’s design culture for years to come.”

“We love the Chicago Design Museum because it has a grassroots origin similar to our own,” said Cards Against Humanity co-creator and pack contributor Max Temkin. “They’ve gone from a Kickstarter project to curating the most exciting design shows in the world.”

“Our research shows that today’s youths don’t like to read anything with words, so here’s just a bunch of pictures,” said Cards Against Humanity co-creator Ben Hantoot. “Frankly, I’m glad they’ll never read this press release.”

“We’ve been out of ideas for two years,” said Cards Against Humanity co-creator Eli Halpern. “Maybe people will like this? Who knows. Fuck it.”

“The Design Pack is being published at a critical moment in the museum’s trajectory, and will allow us to expand our efforts to strengthen design culture and build community in Chicago and beyond,” said Woodford.

The designers contributing to the pack include: Laura Park, Shawna X, Chad Kouri, Susan Kare, Yann Legendre, Paula Scher, Jay Ryan, Mike McQuade, Paul Octavious, Erik Spiekermann, Max Temkin, Debbie Millman, Art Paul, Simon Whybray, Mike Mitchell, Scott Thomas, Matthew Terdich, Jez Burrows, Jason Polan, Jessica Hische, Cody Hudson, Nick Adam, Matthew Hoffman, Magdalena Wistuba, Anna Mort, Eric Hu, Olly Moss, Tanner Woodford, Milton Glaser, and Sonnenzimmer.

The Design Pack is available through at designpack.org, or at the Chicago Design Museum, Block Thirty Seven, 108 N. State Street, 3rd Floor.

Cards Against Humanity is a party game for horrible people. It is the top-selling, best-reviewed, and most-wished-for toy or game on Amazon.com.

The Chicago Design Museum strengthens design culture and builds community by facilitating the exchange of knowledge through dynamic experiences.


Slaight Music – champion and prime supporter of the Canadian music industry – announced the August 1st kickoff of “It’s Your Shot 2015”, Canada’s premiere songwriting and artist development competition. The contest, which is open to all musical genres, encourages artists to submit a song and/or video to www.itsyourshot.ca for a chance to win a Grand Prize valued at $50,000.

The “It’s Your Shot 2015” competition is one of the many initiatives put forth by Slaight Music—a company focused on discovering, developing, inspiring and supporting Canadian recording artists.

Each year, Slaight Music partners with one of Canada’s record labels to support this initiative.  The winning artist this year will receive distribution, radio promotion, publicity, and marketing support via MapleMusic Recordings, along with a professional photo session, a professionally written biography, the development of an artist website, social network pages and an opportunity to perform at a high-profile musical event in 2015.

Ali Slaight, Slaight Music Talent Development Coordinator comments, “It’s Your Shot is something I look forward to every year, and being the curator of the Top 25 gives me the opportunity to go through all of the submissions on my own; discovering so many talented and gifted artists during this process over the last few years is what truly excites me. Winning this competition is a giant step towards a successful musical career for any emerging artist and we can’t wait to hear what the entrants to ‘It’s Your Shot 2015′ bring this year!”

Tony Tarleton, GM of MapleMusic Recordings/Fontana North adds, “Both myself and the team at MMR/Fontana are really excited to be a part of the It’s Your Shot competition again.  We look forward to working closely with Ali and the Slaight Music team to help deliver yet another great artist to the marketplace. This is such a well-run competition in every aspect and we can’t wait to see and hear what’s to come!”

Past winners of the “It’s Your Shot” competition include: Liz Coyles (2011) who had a Top 20 hit with her debut single “Butterflies”; 2012 winner, Hamilton’s Thought Beneath Film, Jillea (2013), from Saint John, NB, whose debut single and EP are due for release via Universal Music Canada this year and 2014’s winner Sam Drysdale. “The team at Slaight Music is exactly what every artist hopes for early in their career,” says Drysdale.  “A group of people genuinely looking to foster and assist up and coming talent.  Forget the numbers and the dollar signs, being a part of the Slaight Music family is the real prize; and taking the chance to enter their It’s Your Shot competition has been the most important career move I’ve ever made.”

The competition will run from August 1st to October 31st with the winning submission announced mid-December.

The Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) Board of Directors announced today that Robert Ott will receive the 2015 Leonard T. Rambeau International Award. This CCMA Award of Achievement recognizes an individual who has demonstrated extraordinary effort in assisting the aims and initiatives of the Canadian country music industry internationally.

“Robert Ott’s persistence and devotion to the acts he has worked with, along with his forward-thinking approach to music publishing, has benefited Canadian artists by putting them on a global scale and offering them new opportunities. His ability to innovate the Music Publishing model, along with his passion for the business of music, has built one of Canada’s most enduring companies. Robert’s long-time support not only of Canadian country music, but also the CCMA, is undeniable. He is an exceptionally worthy recipient of this CCMA Award of Achievement,” said Chair of the CCMA Board of DirectorsBrian Hetherman.

Robert Ott is the co-founder, Chairman & CEO of ole, one of the world’s largest independent music publishing and rights management companies. Ott founded ole in 2004 and has operations in Toronto, Nashville, New York and Los Angeles. The company boasts a team of over 100 experienced industry professionals focused on acquisitions, creative development and worldwide rights management. Before founding ole in 2014, Ott led BMG Music Publishing Canada for seven years.

Through ole, Ott has concluded over $450M USD in acquisitions and controls a catalogue of over 45,000 songs and 60,000 hours of TV/film music across all genres. The company remains steadfast to the creative development of its 100+ staff songwriters, legacy writers and composers, and adding value to its catalogs and client catalogs. ole is unwaveringly committed to being the best and most innovative global destination for world-class songwriters, composers and talent management, and the first choice music source for creators in all media. ole’s current and legacy Canadian roster includes Gord Bamford, George Canyon, Dean Brody, and Johnny Reid, and the company has had a hand in over 230 Canadian cuts and more than 46 Canadian singles since 2013.

“I am very honoured by this recognition from my colleagues and peers in the CCMA,” said Ott.  “As Canadians, we have to take our aspirations to the world in a unique way in order to be heard.  That’s what makes Canadian talent so special. I look forward to many more years of supporting the CCMA and Canadian Country Music around the globe.”

ole has won the CCMA Award for Music Publishing Company of the Year for eight consecutive years (2007 – 2014), and is nominated again this year. BMG Music Publishing Canada also took home the award five times while Ott was General Manager. Ott is a five-time past President of the Canadian Music Publishers Association (CMPA) and currently sits on the Board of Directors of CMRRA and SOCAN.

The 2015 Leonard T. Rambeau International Award will be presented to Ott during a private industry event held during Country Music Week, which takes place September 10 – 13 in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Visit ccma.org for event information.

The Leonard T. Rambeau International Award was titled after its namesake in 1995. Mr. Rambeau was an influential artist manager and a critical behind-the-scene figure in the development of the Canadian music industry internationally.

Ahead of September’s release of Crosseyed Heart, his first record without Mick Jagger and co. since 1992, the guitarist has spoken exclusively in Mojo Magazine’s new issue. During the rare audience with “The Human Riff”, Richards confirmed that while he’s emerging from his band’s shadow for the autumn, he’ll be back recording with The Rolling Stones soon.

“Will we record and tour again? I think we will,” he tells MOJO’s Pat Gilbert. “We’ll do this year, then go into the studio.”

Apparently, plans for the band’s first full album sessions since the recording of 2005’s A Bigger Bang, were in the works before the band even took to the road in North America for their recent Zip Code tour.

“I know Mick wants to record again – he blurted it out in a meeting: ‘It’s about time we went back and recorded.’” recalls Richards. “I was like, ‘We’re here to talk about a tour, right?’ So that will be interesting. End of the year.”

Via Mojo Magazine

Streaming music service Pandora just hit a major milestone: The company surpassed $1 billion in revenue in the 12 months ending with June 2015. This is the first time Pandora has hit that threshold in 12 trailing months. The company now expects to generate between $1.175 billion and $1.185 billion for the full year of 2015.

The news came as part of Pandora’s Q2 1215 earnings results, which saw significant gains on a number of fronts: Revenue for the quarter came in at $285.6 million, up 30% from the same quarter in 2014. Advertising generated $230.9 million, which also represents a 30% growth year-over-year. Listening was up 5%, totaling 5.3 billion hours during the quarter.

The news came as part of Pandora’s Q2 1215 earnings results, which saw significant gains on a number of fronts: Revenue for the quarter came in at $285.6 million, up 30% from the same quarter in 2014. Advertising generated $230.9 million, which also represents a 30% growth year-over-year. Listening was up 5%, totaling 5.3 billion hours during the quarter.

Via Variety

Last month, leaked documents revealed that the music distribution platform SoundCloud has plans to join Apple Music, Tidal, Spotify and the others to feature its own multitiered subscription service. SoundCloud co-founder and CTO Eric Wahlforss has officially confirmed these rumors, revealing that the platform will launch its subscription service later this year.

While Wahlforss refused to give up any details of the subscription service, according to the leak, the first tier would provide an ad-free experience for subscribers, with the ability to listen to audio and download a limited amount of music. The second tier, dubbed “SoundCloud Full Catalog Subscription Service,” would then give subscribers the ability to have unlimited access to its music.

SoundCloud has more than 100 million tracks, and is especially popular among the electronic dance music genre since many DJs are known to release mixes on this platform. In comparison, Spotify has just over 30 million songs, and Tidal has 30 million songs and 75,000 high-quality videos.

Via TechTimes

Yahoo and Live Nation’s ambitious undertaking to live-stream a concert per day for a full year (dubbed Yahoo Live) finished its first run on July 14, and the results are in: The program logged 135 million live streams from 225 global markets, with a largely millennial audience that spent an average of 24 minutes with each stream.

Though that averages out to roughly 369,000 viewers per concert, Yahoo Live is returning for a second year with a slight shift in focus — instead of one concert per day, live streams will be staggered to three or four per week to better maximize Yahoo and Live Nation’s marketing support.

Via Billboard

MusiCounts hosted a special event in Toronto yesterday to celebrate the talent and leadership of the 2015 Fred Sherratt Award recipients. I was proud to be one of the several music industry people in attendance, offering well wishes and a short (ok, long) version of my own story. This year’s celebrations included a visit to Universal Music Canada, a tour of the Bell Media headquarters and an industry Music Mixer where the recent graduates had access to insight and experience from a range of executive-level music industry professionals in attendance. Award-winning broadcasting pioneer Fred Sherratt was onsite to congratulate the 12 recipients who were selected from post-secondary music programs across the country.

“It’s a great honour to celebrate these awards,” said Fred Sherratt. “It was inspiring to see so many promising young graduates getting very impactful advice from industry leaders who have made a great name for themselves in the music world. I know there is a bright future ahead of all 12 recipients.”

The annual award was first launched in 2008 in partnership with Bell Media and named in honour of award-winning innovator Fred Sherratt. It recognizes the outstanding achievement, talent, and leadership of graduating music program students and aims to assist the recipients in their transition from school to career. Each student awarded received $2,500 and a trip to Toronto to attend an educational day of networking and touring top Canadian music industry institutions.

“This scholarship program represents that crucial juncture between music education and the path to future JUNO Award winners,” said Allan Reid, President & CEO, CARAS/The JUNO Awards & MusiCounts. “Without the support of Bell Media for a program like this to exist, we wouldn’t be able to provide this kind of high-end experience that helps to open doors for promising prospects that represent the future of the music industry.”

The 2015 MusiCounts Fred Sherratt Award recipients are:
Trevor Dubois, Fanshawe College – London, ON
Mitchell Gomes, Harris Institute – Toronto, ON
Philip Gosselin, The Banff Centre – Banff, AB
Nicolas Lajeunesse, Musitechnic – Montreal, QC
Brandon Liew, MacEwan University – Edmonton, AB
Tyler Martin, St. Francis Xavier University – Antigonish, NS
Liam Masil-Mitro, Humber College – Toronto, ON
Phillip McLean, The Art Institute of Vancouver – Vancouver, BC
Justin Miniaci, Trebas Institute – Toronto, ON
Rachel Peacock, Red Deer College – Red Deer, AB
Elijah Quinn Larsen, Selkirk College – Nelson, BC
Jonathan Tobin, Capilano University – Vancouver, BC

Fred Sherratt is a broadcasting pioneer who was instrumental in building CHUM, served as Vice-Chairman of the company from 2000-2003 and prior to that held a number of roles including Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. He was inducted into the Canadian Association of Broadcasters Broadcast Hall of Fame in 1995, in 1993 received the Ted Rogers Senior / Velma Rogers Graham Award for his “pioneering spirit and contribution to the broadcasting system”, and in 2008, received the Ontario Association of Broadcasters’ inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award and was also honoured by CARAS in 2009 with the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award.

MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity associated with The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS) and the Canadian Country Music Association (CCMA) is helping to keep music alive in schools and communities across Canada by putting musical instruments into the hands of children that need them most. MusiCounts’ mission is to ensure that children in Canada, regardless of socio-economic circumstances or cultural background, have access to music programs through their schools and communities. MusiCounts achieves its mission through its Band Aid Program, the MusiCounts TD Community Music Program, the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award, Scholarships and other music education initiatives. MusiCounts is funded by many of Canada’s most dedicated corporate citizens including and especially Bell Media, TD Bank Group, SiriusXM Canada, the Slaight Family Foundation, Music Canada, Vista Radio, and Morningstar Canada. MusiCounts has been supported since inception by Sony Music Entertainment Canada Inc., Universal Music Canada, Warner Music Canada Ltd., JUNO Songwriters’ Circle and JUNO Cup. Since MusiCounts’ establishment in 1997, nearly $8,000,000 has been awarded in support of music education in Canada. These funds have benefitted over 700 schools and communities from coast to coast, supported over 300 post-secondary music program graduates and honoured 10 extraordinary music teachers through the MusiCounts Teacher of the Year Award.

BreakOut West has revealed its full lineup for this year’s festival, and it’s a big one – featuring 60+ artists across multiple genres, showcasing the very best in emerging Western Canadian talent.

Here’s the full-lineup for BreakOut West 2015:

36? (AB), Acres Of Lions (BC), Alex Mahé (AB), Annette (SK), Attica Riots (MB), Belle Plaine (SK), Bend Sinister (BC), BESTiE (BC), Blake Berglund (SK), Boreal Sons (AB), Carmanah (BC), Chris Henderson (SK), Claire Ness (YT), Close Talker (SK), Dee Erin Band (MB), Def3 (SK), Delhi 2 Dublin (BC), Digawolf (YT), Economics (SK), Evil Ebenezer (BC), Fish & Bird (BC) Gay Nineties (BC), HUMANS DJ Set (BC), Immaculate (BC), Iskwé (MB), Isobel Trigger (BC), JPNSGRLS (BC), Kytami (BC), Leela Gilday (NT), Leeroy Stagger (AB), LONGNUS (BC), Luca Fogale (BC), Matthew Lien (YT), Me and Mae (BC), Mark Takeshi McGregor (BC) , Mike Edel (BC), Paul Cournoyer (AB), PEP (Piano and Erhu Project) (AB), PORT JUVEE (AB), Ridley Bent (MB) , Rococode (BC), Ryan Boldt (SK), Ryan McNally (YT), Sam Weber (BC), Samantha Savage Smith (AB), Sarah MacDougall (YT), SAVVIE (BC), Sc Mira (MB), Sea and Sky Duo (BC) , Shred Kelly (BC), Stella Swanson (BC), The Bennett Sun (YT), The Kerplunks (BC), The Matinee (BC), The Midnight Sons Band (YT), The Noble Thiefs (MB), The Nu:BC Collective (BC), The Pistolwhips (SK), The Provincial Archive (AB), The Treble (MB), The Tumblin’ Dice (BC), The Wet Secrets (AB), Towers and Trees (BC), Transit (AB), Two Bears North (AB), Tyler Hornby (AB), Victoria Baroque Players (BC), Weird Party (BC) and Yes We Mystic (MB).

BreakOut West has also announced that the CBC’s Grant Lawrence will be hosting their 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards Gala, and that Tanya Tagaq, The Harpoonist & The Axe Murdered, Annette, Sarah MacDougall and NoMeansNo are among the nominated artists slated for performance at the Gala.

Ticket and registration information:

Wristbands: This year, a wristband for all shows can be purchased at Rifflandia’s website, as all BOW showcases will be included in the Rifflandia weekend pass.

Full delegate registration: This year, it also includes the Festival showcases + access to Rifflandia shows, and can be picked up at breakoutwest.ca. The full delegate package also includes a ticket to the WCMA’s.

Earl bird registration for the 2015 Conference kicks off today until August 10, full details on what that entails over at breakoutwest.ca.